Denmark, Kingdom of the Sea

With its white sandy beaches and fish-consumption to rival Japan (by a long chalk!), its colourful harbourside houses and rich history largely dominated by the Hanseatic League, Denmark is the most southerly picture postcard landscape in Scandinavia.

Danish “legends” of the celebrity kind, are certainly not thin on the ground in this global cultural landscape. But without doubt the most famous Dane is the one responsible for a very different kind of legend, or more precisely the fairy tale ... to be exact, a total of 156 short, original stories passed by word of mouth in the oldest of traditions, before being shared on a global scale, recorded for ever on paper. His name: Hans Christian Anderson, born in Odense in 1805, who left for Copenhagen to become an actor. There he was to publish his very first poems, of which some would become very popular in Denmark, though the author remained unknown. Rekindling the artistic genre of Charles Perrault and the Brothers Grimm, the creator of the Ugly Duckling and the Little Match Girl and also the Little Mermaid, he also became friends with Wagner and Dickens, as well as a familiar face in the Royal Court. His name now graces a prize awarded to the finest children’s literature ... you can also visit the Anderson Museum in Odense.

Encompassing Greenland at the other end of the earth and the Faroe islands, situated between Iceland and Norway, this is also Amber territory, which originated from fossilised tree resin from the banks of the Baltic Sea. It has been a popular export for thousands of years, mainly to Greece and Egypt. And as proof of its eco-commitment, Denmark has become one of the leading lights in wind energy and continues to experiment with the sustainable architecture of eco-districts. And last, but by no means least, Champagne is hugely popular in Denmark, to the extent that they wished they had invented it!

Journey of discovery | Published on: 13 June 2013
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