Travel Destinations

Monday, October 13, 2014

Odense: The Birthplace of Hans Christian Andersen

Statue of Hans Christian Andersen in HC Andersen Haven Odense Denmark
Hans Christian Andersen, the son of Odense.
Odense is the third largest city in Denmark, but to put that into a little bit of perspective, Odense has a population of just over 172,000, between that of Jackson, Mississippi and Fort Lauderdale, Florida.  There is one main reason to visit Odense, and that is Hans Christian Andersen.  Hans Christian Andersen is one of the most famous celebrities to ever come out of Denmark and Odense’s claim to fame is that Odense is the birthplace of Hans Christian Andersen. 

Hopefully everybody knows who Hans Christian Andersen is.  I grew up with his fairy tales.  But in case you need a reminder, he wrote The Little Mermaid, The Ugly Duckling, The Emperor’s New Clothes, and countless more. 

While Hans Christian Andersen only lived in Odense until the age of 14, at which time he moved to Copenhagen to seek his fortune, Odense is very proud of the fact that it is the birthplace of the famous author, and signs of Hans Christian Andersen can be seen around every corner of the city.

Hans Christian Andersen's Birthplace Odense Denmark
This little yellow house is where the famous Hans Christian Andersen was born.
The best place to get to know Hans Christian Andersen is the Hans Christian Andersen Museum, or as the Danes call it, H.C. Andersens Hus.  The Danes are on a first name basis with Denmark’s famous son and call him H.C. (pronounced hoo-see).  Hans Christian Andersen’s first home, where he was born and lived for two years, is incorporated into this museum.  But his birth home is just a small part of this very large museum dedicated to one important man.

Hans Christian Andersen Museum Entrance Odense Denmark
The modern entrance to the Hans Christian Andersen Museum.
While Hans Christian Andersen’s small birth home can be seen from the old town street, the entrance to the museum is actually in the back and is very modern.  Walking through the museum is literally like walking through Hans Christian Andersen’s life.  Many of Hans Christian Andersen’s personal possessions are displayed, like his hat and his dentures, along with explanations of what was happening in his life at the time, all in chronological order.  Seeing everything in perspective really helps illustrate the struggles he went through and how amazing it is that he eventually became so successful and so well-loved. 

Hans Christian Andersen's Passport Odense Denmark
Hans Christian Andersen's passport.
Visitors to the museum will also learn there was much more to Hans Christian Andersen than just his fairy tales.  He was also a poet and an artist and a traveler.  He was talented in the arts of paper cutting and drawing. 

Hans Christian Andersen was an avid traveler and believed travel was an important part of life.  He knew Europe better than many of his contemporaries.  One of his famous quotes is, “To travel is to live.”  He embarked on his first journey in 1831 and took his 30th and last in 1873, two years before he died.  He not only traveled through Europe, but also to Asia Minor and Africa.

Hans Christian Andersen's Nyhavn Room Odense Denmark
Reconstruction of Hans Christian Andersen's study from his Nyhavn apartment.
Hans Christian Andersen’s Childhood Home, where he lived from ages two to 14, is also open to visitors.  But beyond these two homes there are signs of Hans Christian Andersen everywhere throughout Odense.  Behind Sankt Knuds Kirke, Odense’s cathedral, is HC Andersen Haven, a park dedicated to the writer with a prominent statue of him.  On a sunny day you will see countless Danes lounging in the grass of this park.  Walking around Odense you will find Hans Christian Andersen’s profile worked into the sidewalk and they’ve even used him for the pedestrian street lights.

HC Andersen Haven Odense Denmark
Danes soaking in the sun in Odense's HC Andersen Haven.
There are a number of sculptures and street furniture inspired by Hans Christian Andersen's stories throughout town.  A great place to view some of Odense’s outdoor artwork is in the square in front of the Town Hall, which is also the perfect place to enjoy a licorice ice cream cone from the ice cream shop.

We stayed in Odense for two nights of our Denmark road trip so we could not only explore Odense, but also other parts of the island of Funen, including Egeskov Slot, the Hindsholm Peninsula, and Vikingemuseet Ladby.  We stayed at Hotel Plaza, a centrally located hotel in Odense within easy walking distance of all the sites we visited.  Hotel Plaza, built in 1919, is a good choice with spacious rooms and an included breakfast.  My favorite part of Hotel Plaza was the cozy downstairs lounge where we were able to enjoy some of Odense’s local beers.

Hotel Plaza Lounge Odense Denmark
Hotel Plaza's lounge, the perfect place for an Odense beer.
Our best meal while in Odense was dinner at Restaurant Under Lindetraeet.  Restaurant Under Lindetraeet is located in a charming house within Odense’s old town just across the street from the Hans Christian Andersen Museum. 

Restaurant Under Lindetraeet Odense Denmark
Restaurant Under Lindetraeet across the street from Hans Christian Andersen's birthplace.
If you are a fan of Hans Christian Andersen, you will not want to miss Odense.  The Hans Christian Andersen Museum along with Odense’s close proximity to other Funen not to miss sites makes a visit to Odense imperative.

Travel the World: Odense, Denmark's third largest city, is the birthplace of Denmark's famous fairy tale author Hans Christian Andersen.

Katherine Belarmino and Romeo Belarmino are the authors of Travel the World, a travel blog for the everyday working stiff. They work full-time in non-travel related jobs, but take every opportunity they can to travel the world during their limited vacation time.