Copenhagen: The fairytale capital of the world

(CNN) — As soon as on a time in Scandinavia, a region emerged where the Covid limitations that several other nations are continue to living below were completely lifted.

Denmark’s final decision to become the very first European Union member to fully unwind Covid-19 rules is thanks in significant element to the successful way local traditions of samfundssind or “social mindedness” have aided prevent the distribute of the virus.

With Covid passes no longer essential to enter places to eat and nightclubs, Copenhagen is open and prepared for business, its friendly citizens primed to welcome new and returning guests to take pleasure in its understated allure.

A fairy tale ending to a darkish chapter? It would undoubtedly be apt in the Danish cash exactly where several issues are as central to society as fairy tales. Especially people by Hans Christian Andersen.

A check out to the enchanting homeland of Hans Christian Andersen is certain to reignite one’s imagination.

Whilst the creator of classics these types of as “The Minor Mermaid” and “The Emperor’s New Clothes” died almost 150 a long time ago, his spirit is incredibly a lot alive in fashionable Denmark.

And anyone encountering performer Torben Iversen could be forgiven for imagining Andersen is really considerably alive in particular person.

Iversen, who can on a regular basis be located dressing and talking like Andersen, alongside with a band of fairytale enthusiasts have taken it upon on their own to retain the author’s stories alive for potential generations.

“Anyone has to act Andersen, to journey the planet to existing the tales,” claims Iversen, dressed in complete 19th century garb. “I you should not say to people ‘I am Andersen’. I enjoy Andersen for the reason that Andersen explained ‘to travel is to live’. I say to engage in is to dwell. So, which is what I do.”

Torben Iversen: “Constantly make your possess lifestyle a fairy tale.”


Iversen launched the Hans Christian Andersen Parade in 1988 and has taken his show, that includes 20 people from Andersen’s fairytales, all around the entire world. It’s back home in Denmark, however, where by he has picked out to continue on his perform, today conducting special guided excursions all-around the Andersen Museum in Odense, west of Copenhagen.

Andersen’s composing and tales are, claims Iversen, all about guaranteeing we retain our perception of question and imagination past the early yrs of childhood.

“I will explain to you that you shall constantly make your very own existence a fairytale. If you don’t forget that, that will be the most significant issue.”

The tales, in their harmony between gentle and dark, are element of the human spirit.

“[People] get vitamins for their lifestyle, for their head, for their contemplating, for their heart, for their emotions,” states Iversen of Andersen’s do the job. “Which is what art is all about, that is what lifestyle is all about, nutritional vitamins for your lifestyle.”

A day with a Viking

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Richard Quest discovers his internal Viking.


If tales of mermaids, bare emperors and princesses are deep in Danish tradition, then so too is the long and storied history of the Vikings. These marauders were dominant in the course of significantly of northern Europe during the early Middle Ages, traveling as far as Russia, Greenland and North America. Their pillaging has led to a reputation which endures to this working day, just one which has violence at its coronary heart.

It truly is a status that flamboyant artist, designer and photographer Jim Lyngvild is attempting to transform, attempting to shift perceptions and showcase the Vikings’ Norse beliefs and pagan rituals.

For Lyngvild, this is private. He is descended from Viking royalty and has the family members tree to confirm it. But his capabilities as a designer suggest he’s taken items to the up coming level, building his very own Viking castle and even a temple to the Norse gods which is, he says, the 1st to be built on Scandinavian grounds in a thousand yrs. It was done in 2016.

Denmark and Vikings are linked in history and lore. CNN’s Richard Quest finds himself transported when traveling to a modern-day-day Viking castle outside Copenhagen.

“My goal here in everyday living is to not endorse, which is the erroneous phrase, but to notify folks about aged Norse beliefs and Vikings. And make them significantly less stereotyped.”

“Vikings have been taken hostage by the stupidest of persons,” provides Lyngvild. “The Nazis utilised the symbols… So, I am torn concerning staying extremely proud of my inheritance, but also staying exceptionally knowledgeable that nothing evil will appear from it.”

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Jim Lyngvild life in his have Viking castle.


Lyngvild’s extravagant acquire on Viking heritage has seen him turn out to be a person of Denmark’s most renowned people today. He wears the clothing, he has taken on the spiritual beliefs and has designed magic all around this usually misunderstood portion of Danish history. But he has also invited Syrian refugees to a reconstructed Iron Age village in Odense to give them an knowledge of Danish lifestyle. It speaks to his singular technique to exhibiting off the most effective of Denmark.

“We have this extremely conservative, ‘you have to do this in a quite rigorous outdated way’ [approach]. But we also really like the cracks in the canvas in which the wild horses can run by means of,” he states.

Science demanding background

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DNA scientist Eske Willerslev has uncovered some surprises about Vikings.


Although Lyngvild’s proud acquire on Denmark’s Viking historical past is challenging stereotypes, new investigate implies that a lot of what we know about these plunderers and empire builders may well not be as concrete as the moment assumed.

Action ahead Eske Willerslev, a DNA scientist and director of the College of Copenhagen’s Centre for GeoGenetics. Eske, a previous adventurer who at the time led expeditions through Siberia and Greenland, has been blowing up a thousand several years of Viking heritage as a result of his slicing-edge study.

His function has revealed that Vikings were not just Scandinavians. Analysis of 400 skeletons from burial internet sites from throughout Scotland and Greenland has in reality located that numerous of all those buried experienced no Scandinavian genetic background, with some remaining locals and many others even obtaining connections to southern Europe and Asia.

“Of study course there are Scandinavians, Danes, that are Vikings, quite a few of them. But there are also Vikings that have no genetic ancestry coming from Scandinavia,” clarifies Eske.

It seems that Viking was a lot more of a work description, a way of life instead than a quirk of start. These skeletons had been buried making use of Viking rituals, with the very same swords and shields you’d be expecting to obtain in Scandinavia.

“Our total identification as Scandinavians… is centered on the Viking fantasy. But you know as a researcher, what is your goal? Your goal is to uncover out what essentially took place fairly than ‘what do we believe occurred or visualize occurred.'”

And Eske has 1 other surprise.

“[They] ended up fewer blonde and blue eyed than Scandinavians are now.”

It appears to be our preconceptions about this cornerstone of Danish heritage have been nicely and really blown out of the water.

A rebellious aspect

In a land of lengthy-standing ideals, even the rule breakers embody the essence of Denmark.

Copenhagen has developed a reputation internationally for its simplicity, consensus mentality and reasonableness. But that’s not to say it will not have a rebellious aspect. And nowhere is that a lot more in evidence than Christiania.

The Danish capital’s well-known freetown dates back to 1971, when a team of absolutely free minded settlers broke into the Bådmandsgade armed forces barracks and established up what has come to be a person of the world’s most famed experiments in collective living.

Through that time, Christiania has turn into identified for its no cost and easy approach to daily life, with critics highlighting problems with open drug use and the area’s links with organized criminal offense. Website visitors are warned not to just take pictures about its infamous Pusher Road, with a listing of policies noticeable to all those who enter this special corner of Copenhagen.

Given that 2011, having said that, the space has been owned by the Foundation Freetown Christiania, a group committed to protecting their way of life and the put they have called residence for 50 many years.

So, what makes it so alluring following all these yrs?

Tanja Zebell is a long time resident and continues to be committed to the cause of communal living and undertaking points in another way. Slipping by means of Christiania’s peaceful streets on roller skates, she is a photo of the rebel spirit that nonetheless endures in this article. She is passionate about the commune wherever she life and specially the artwork which adorn the area’s partitions. The graffiti, she clarifies, is all section of the appeal of the location.

“You appear at what is presently painted there, and then you question by yourself, ‘can I do this greater?’ If the answer is no, then you will not overpaint,” she claims, firmly.

This well mannered insurrection is specifically Danish in its sensibility. One aspect rebels, the other facet tolerates. Just one aspect pushes, the other facet acknowledges. It is what goes to make Copenhagen and Denmark at substantial these a heat and welcoming position.

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Ulla Terkelsen: “It is a really beautiful state.”


In the a lot less rebellious environment of a standard Danish bakery, globetrotting Danish correspondent and creator Ulla Terkelsen, is in a reflective mood. Ulla has labored and traveled all over the globe, but still has a deep affection for the put she called house for the first 20 years of her lifestyle. Like Tanja, she enjoys this metropolis.

“I believe it is a quite wonderful country. I imagine it is also a incredibly pragmatic, sensible nation,” she states around conventional Weinerbrod.

“When you are below, you are as if you’ve got stepped off the globe. The environment is unsafe and diverse and you phase off it and action into a very rather yard. Incredibly effectively-retained where by everything is sweet and awesome. But outside the garden gate, there’s a little something else likely on.”

Terkelsen states that, as she wanders the fairly cobbled streets of her property town, she grows emotional wondering of the connections to spouse and children and her previous, tapping into a broader perception of Copenhagen remaining a location to appear again to.

That sense is maybe greatest summed up in the fairytales which originate from these shores. The basic safety, enchantment and question of property, but with a twist in the tale, regardless of whether it can be in rebellious Christiania or the new science revealing the reality about the Vikings and Denmark’s previous. It is truthful to say that if you stop by Copenhagen, you can are living fortunately ever right after.

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