Aarhus proudly calls itself the smallest big city in the world, or maybe it is the largest little town on the planet 🙂 Anyway it is definitely not too large and quite pretty. Even when walking to the hotel from the railway station, we noticed the pretty pedestrian Stroget street with all the usual chain stores, boutiques and several huge shops. The Cathedral is seen practically from any point in town as well as the famous Rainbow observation deck on top of the circular AroS, Arts Museum. Though one can see plenty of the new immigration, with about 40,000 new faces, most of the citizens are clearly Danes. Their Viking ancestry is easily seen in the faces, in the very fair hair and in their height. Most people speak English; they are used to tourists. There are lots of students who study at the well-known University of Aarhus. Surprisingly, quite a number of young people are over-weight, in spite of their very active life style. All the streets are full of people busily rushing in various directions. Lots of cyclists whoosh by without bothering to honk politely as the Germans do, so one needs to be attentive.
It is rather easy to walk around in the center. The Cathedral was begun in the late twelfth century; it was mostly finished by mid-1300, then renovated and reconstructed several times. The initial design remained intact, with the red-brick facade and tall bell tower. Inside it is very impressive and quite ornate. There are many early frescoes which look quite touching and a bit naive, they obviously date back to the early period in the church’s construction before the whole Europe learned to depict people and draw real portraits from the Italian Renaissance masters. The Cathedral occupies a large area. Entrance is free.
It is a short walk to the harbor where one can watch some very large ships and enjoy the views of the fjord. Several old buildings survive to this day.
Returning to the city center one can walk along the many pedestrian streets window shopping or perhaps doing some real shopping. However the prices are rather high as compared to what we have just seen in the neighboring Germany. On the other hand, the per capita income in the country is very high; the fact that they use Danish Kroner adds to some confusion in the perception. What costs 135dkk is circa €15 by today’s currency exchange rate.
There are plenty of old houses with several streets preserved through the centuries in their original outlook. They are often surrounded by modern towering buildings which somehow blend in together into a charming cityscape.
The harbor, the Aarhus River and several canals all add charm and originality to this nice town. The climate naturally reflects the influence of so much water. It can be sunny literally one second and cloudy the next. Drizzle and quick showers may turn into downpours. In July the temperatures remain at the somewhat cool 18-20 C. One minute with the sun shining bright it is really warm, next minute it is cloudy with strong gusts of wind so you wish to put on a jacket. Fascinating!