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- 1Hotel Bella Sky Comwell
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- 5Tivoli Hotel
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- 10Hotel Crowne Plaza Copenhagen Towers
- 11First Hotel Copenhagen
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Facts and information about Denmark
Denmark Denmark is a country made up of various territories and, in its European area (i.e. excluding the Fær Øer Archipelago and Greenland), it extends over more than 43,000 km2. Composed of a vast peninsula, the Jutland, that stretches northwards, as well as a myriad of islands (one of which hosts the nation’s capital, Copenhagen) the country is sustained by a constitutional monarchy. It borders on Germany to the south while, to the west, its shores are washed by the North Sea. The Skagerrak to the north and the Kattegat to the east divide it from Norway and Sweden respectively. THE VIKINGS Little is known about the (probably Scandinavian) origins of the Viking people. Their name may have been derived from vik which in ancient Norwegian meant the entrance to a fjord, or from vig, battle, or from vikja, the term used to name the desire to journey far. What is clear is that already in the eighth century the Vikings had settled in what is today Denmark and had already undertaken various raids on the nearby British islands. A high-spirited people of resourceful navigators, they were able to make their way to the far shores of Greenland and to take over French and German territories by force. Clear signs of their complex civilization have come down to us in the coarse brick architecture, the fortifications, and above all the many runic stones used as funeral monuments or as celebrations of particularly meaningful events. With King Gorm the Elder and his son Harald, the Vikings founded the first Danish dynasty whose most important rulers were Canute I and Canute II, both sovereigns of Denmark, England and Norway. After 1050 and the progressive decline of Viking power, these three countries found their destinies closely tied one to the other even though they were increasingly engaged in resisting attacks by German feudal lords as well as expansionism on the part of Germanic peoples. Great kings like Valdemar I, Henry VI, and Valdemar IV (thirteenth and fourteenth centuries) were faced with this pressing problem which they opposed with alternate successes and failures. But only Valdemar IV’s daughter, Margaret I who married King Haakon VI of Norway, succeeded in uniting these three countries under her rule, obtaining the unanimous support of the Scandinavian nobility and placing herself in a strong position with regard to the German enemies. The situation remained unstable but seemed to promise a solution in Denmark’s favor. MODERN DENMARK With the establishment of the Oldenburg family’s power, Denmark renewed its national identity and achieved centuries of magnificence and power. A dynasty that can rightly be considered the oldest reigning house in all of Europe, the family traces its origins back to the eleventh century while they have occupied the Danish throne without interruption from the mid fifteenth century. In fact, it was Christian of Oldenburg, son of Theodoric the Lucky and Edvige of Holstein, who ensured the success of his lineage by becoming sovereign of Denmark (with the name Christian I), Norway and Sweden as well as Count of Holstein and Duke of Schleswig. His reign marked the end of what is conventionally thought of as the Middle Ages in Denmark; under his descendants, the whole country would grow economically, culturally, artistically and even politically. Until, in 1849, Denmark received its first constitution with the support of Frederick VII. Since then the monarchy has always represented the real fulcrum at the center of Danish life. Today, in accordance with the new Grundlov (Constitution) approved on June 5, 1953, the monarchy, which is still hereditary, is called upon to exercise only executive powers while the unicameral Parliament performs the legislative functions and the courts form the judicial body. In 1953 the law excluding female succession to the throne was repealed and in 1972 the present queen, Margaret II, succeeded her father Frederick IX when she had just turned thirty-two. Today she is a true symbol of her country’s national identity. With her husband the Prince Consort Henrik (who is of French noble descent) she has two sons: Frederick, heir to the throne, born in 1968 a year after her wedding, and Joachim born in 1969. The royal family usually resides at Amalienborg. Here the deep affection that the Danish people feel for their Queen can be seen in the crowd (and not only of tourists) that comes every day at noon to see the magnificent Vagtparade, or Changing of the Guard. When the Queen is in residence in her apartments, this ceremony is solemnly marked by the music of a military band.
The official language is Danish which is derived from Germanic origins and is part of the eastern branch of the Nordic languages. Its particularly hard and nasal pronunciation makes this language seem apparently harsher and more “difficult” than it really is. German is still spoken in some areas of southern Jutland, in what was in ancient times the German domain of Schleswig, while farther north there are large enclaves of Swedish-speaking people.
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Constantly exposed to cool, damp winds from the west, Denmark is characterized by a maritime and temperate Atlantic climate. Only certain areas show a tendency towards continental weather patterns. The yearly rainfall is abundant and almost uniformly distributed, contributing to the thickness of vegetation and the great amount of fresh water that mostly forms in lakes. However, the hydrographic network is harder to define because of the country’s substantially flat morphology. The temperatures stay rather mild with cool summers and not particularly cold winters, although there are sometimes exceptions. The average seasonal temperature in summer is about 17-20° (July is the hottest month) while in wintertime the thermometer often shows several degrees below zero. Only in moments of particularly intense cold does marine ice form in the channels separating the archipelago islands, creating an evocative seascape.
Country and People
When the glaciers of the last Ice Age receded (around 10,000 BC), reindeer began to populate the extensive plains of the Danish peninsula and of the larger islands of the archipelago. They were soon followed by the first inhabitants, Nordic peoples who came to hunt these animals. However the first settlements of which we have real evidence coincided with primordial developments of agricultural and animal-raising techniques and date from the Neolithic Period (3000 BC). Over the centuries this primitive society progressed through the discovery of metals and was soon able to establish contacts with the more evolved cultures of the Mediterranean basin. The Neolithic peoples have left us great signs of their existence, such as megalithic tombs and the remains of village complexes. Instead the Iron Age (500 BC – 800 AD) has left us several interesting bodies that were uncovered in the Tollund and Grauballe peat bogs. They are so well-preserved that they allow us to reconstruct the physiognomy of the peninsula’s ancient inhabitants who, in many ways, had physical characteristics similar to those of the population today. However, the history of these lands extending towards the Scandinavian peninsula would find signs of a meaningful turning point in only in the sixth century AD with the invasion of the Danes. A people of Swedish origin, they brought with them their own social structures which included the centralization of power and the role of sovereign, thereby laying the foundations for the territorial and political unity that would be achieved under the Vikings.
Traditions and Culture
Visitors to Denmark are immediately struck by the great cordiality of the inhabitants who numbered over five million in the 1991 census and are concentrated mostly in the large cities: Copenhagen, Århus and Odense. The people’s remarkable openness towards outside contacts can be ascribed to ancient roots: they are directly descended from the Danes and the Vikings, resourceful Scandinavian peoples who for centuries gave themselves to navigation and to the conquest of new lands. And what must have been the open and proud faces, tenacious and bright, of the forebears can still be read in the modern Danes’ typical physiognomic features.
Denmark was formed by the sedimentary stratification deposited by the sea’s waters which continued to expand and recede for entire geological ages. This was the reason why the country developed in a substantially horizontal way, without any pronounced heights of note,and entirely surrounded and divided by the sea. Its landscape is at the same time varied and uniform, with wide expanses of sandy beaches and beautiful dunes interrupted only by the deep-gouged fjords and the magnificent expanses of rocky coasts. The vast cultivated areas which, with their warm chromatic tones, characterize the southernmost area of the country, are gradually replaced by lakes and heaths, peat bogs and expanses of trees from pines to blueberries, from dwarf willows to ivy. The dense woods still farther north are only a small reminder of what were once immense beech and oak forests that almost completely covered these magnificent lands but were decimated in intense exploitation and in the ever more pressing need to reclaim land for farming.