Treasures of Scandinavia & Russia

Arhus, Denmark

Friday July 25, 2008

From the Navigator

After departure from Warnemunde, the ms Rotterdam sailed in the Great Belt traffic lanes, heading north. The shallow waters of the “Belt” restrict the ms Rotterdam in her route and speed. After we embark the local pilot of Arhus we will continue into the port, guided by leading lights. These lights show us the middle of the approach channel, which is marked by red buoys on our port side and green buoys on our starboard side.

Welcome to Arhus

This large “Cat” water jet powered ferry preparing to load cars and tractor trailers

Arhus “or hoos” was established around 948 AD as a Viking settlement on the mouth of the river, which is the meaning of its name. With a population of approximately 250,000, Arhus is one of the busiest ports in Scandinavia and id Denmark’s second largest city. Geographical at the heart of the country and often regarded as Denmark’s cultural capital, Arhus typifies all that’s good about Danish cities: it’s small enough to get to know in a few hours, yet big and lively enough to fill both days and nights. Despite Viking-era origins, the city’s present-day prosperity is due to its long, sheltered bay on which the first harbor was constructed during the fifteenth century, and the more recent advent of railways, which made Arhus a nationally important trade center. Arhus divides into two clearly defined parts: the old section, and the less colorful sector. The old section, surrounded by the modern sector, is close to the cathedral and is a tight cluster of medieval street. Sondergrade is the city’s main street. It is a pedestrian thoroughfare that leads down into Bispetrovet and the old center, the streets of which form a web around the Domkirke, a massive, if plain, Gothic church. The area around the cathedral is a leisurely district of shops for browsing and enticing cafes.

Arhus is a college town and students set the tone. The city is lively and there are many cultural attractions. The best-known is the annual Arhus Festival, (first week in September), a comprehensive Northern European arts event. (Courtesy of ms Rotterdam’s daily program)

Our Visit

Since Barbara’s research indicated that this would be a “walking tour” city, we elected to do the city on foot. So we headed off the ship after a rousing morning welcome by an all girl city band. Our first stop, the visitor information center at the bottom of the gangway, proved to be extremely helpful, as one of the young ladies in the center provided us with an excellent city map, and a marked path to our first destination; Den Gamle By. Lorin and Bonnie had the same idea, so we saw them several times that day.

Den Gamle By (The Old Town) was founded in 19099 by Peter Holm as the world’s first open-air museum of urban history and culture. The houses and interiors come from all over Denmark. The houses are registered, dismantled, moved to Arhus and rebuilt in Den Gamle By, which today stands as a reinterpretation of a typical Danish town from the 1600s, 1700s and 1800s. Today Den Gamle By is the National Museum of Urban History and Culture and besides the houses and interiors, the museum has unique exhibitions of clocks and watches, clothes, and textiles, silverware and delftware, and toys. Den Gamle By is Denmark’s largest museum of the history of the last 500 years and is considered the leading open-air museum of urban culture in Europe. More than 350,000 people visit the museum every year. Den Gamle Bu is under the patronage of Her Majesty the Queen. (Courtesy of the Den Gamle By Miniguide)

It was a beautiful day for a walk and the distance to “The Old Town” was about a mile. We were fortunate by going early and beating the bus tours from our ship. After touring each building, we had plenty of time to chat with folks and just sit and observe the interaction between the “characters dressed in period clothing” and the “guests”. In one of the photos you will see one of three horse drawn carriages, providing that authentic “fresh country air” smell.

Buildings were built using this type of construction

One of the sources of “Fresh Country Aire”

Tobacco Barn
Barbara visiting with the “boatman”

Wife and Husband “in character – arguing”

The “parson” and his wish for a good day
The old windmill and tile roofs

Since our return to the ship was downhill, we could take our time and investigate more of the old sector, ending up at the Domkirke.


We finished our walk around 2 Pm in good time to make it back to the ship for the 3:30 Pm sailing.

A most beautiful street in the old sector

A view of city buildings from the town library

Arhus Cathedral

Impressions of Arhus

We found the people very friendly, we would definitely enjoy spending a few days there, however, one would need to bring a bankroll. The city was very clean. Something I noticed that escaped Barbara’s attention was all the young beautiful blond women on bicycles.

One thought on “Treasures of Scandinavia & Russia

  1. I would also highly recommend the town of Ribe which is south and west of Arhus. Ribe is the oldest town in Denmark, and much of the town center dates from the 1700’s. It is very easy to get a sense of what the typical Danish town of the period must have looked like.

    (Bedstefar = Danish Grandfather… a title I’m proud of!)

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