This past week was Study Tour week for the Architecture & Design Summer students. It was a jam-packed week full of fantastic site visits, great food, and new friends – it was a week I won’t soon forget!
Our tour took place Tuesday through Saturday. We spent the first two days taking day trips, traveling to sites around Sjaelland and returning to Copenhagen at the end of the day. From Thursday to Saturday, we headed West: first to Kolding, then to Aarhus (stopping at notable locations along the way). Here’s the rundown!
Our first stop was one of Denmark’s most striking geologic formations, Møns Klint. Located on the Southernmost point of Sjaeland, the calcium and chalk cliffs gleamed against the blue-green Baltic sea at their feet. Millenia of erosion has left the shoreline of Møns Klint covered with small, smooth, spherical stones. The mineral-rich water leaves a dusting of calcium and chalk on the rocks when the tide recedes, and the water evaporates. Me and my classmates hopped right into the water, and had a blast taking a refreshing dip in the Sea.
From Møns Klint we headed to a truly magical place – Liselund Slotspark. This park features serene undulating green scapes and several small houses that enhance the park’s fantastical aesthetic. We had a group picnic at Liselund, and then stopped to sketch the site – an important practice for the Architecture & Design students!
Next, we stopped at Fanefjord Kirke, which is a traditional early protestant church originating from ~1500 C.E. We explored the church and stopped to sketch before we left for the day’s final stop: the Forest Tower.
The Forest Tower is a unique way to experience the forest of Denmark. The pre-rusted steel spiral guides you on a vertical journey through the forest, until your break through the canopy and are floating atop the trees with a 360 degree view of all of the land around you. The surrounding compound features a number of other attractions, including zip-lines and obstacle courses – if you love the outdoors, this is a great place to go and adventure!
The next day we headed North of Copenhagen to Helsingør! First, we stopped at Kronborg Castle, the setting for Shakespeare’s Hamlet. We walked around the moat that surrounded the perimeter of the building, where we were given a picturesque view across the Baltic Sea to Sweden.
We then walked next door to the Maritime Museum, a retired dry-dock that has been converted into a subterranean exhibition space by local architects, BIG. This museum is a truly unique experience, and well worth making the trip!
For lunch we walked over to Elsinor Street Food (adjacent to both Kronborg Castle and the Maritime Museum). Once we were refueled from the great food, we headed back South for our final stop of the day – The Louisiana Museum.
The Louisiana Museum of Modern Art is a gem on the Western coastline of Sjaelland. The museum itself is just as beautiful as the art it hosts, and the view to Sweden from its secluded garden just as impactful. No trip to Copenhagen is complete without a trip The Louisiana!
Thursday marked the beginning of our trip West towards Jutland. Our first stop was the town of Kolding, where we visited the Trapholt Museum and Koldinghus.
Trapholt sits atop a hill overlooking Kolding Fjord, and is host to a rotation of fantastic exhibits. We were fortunate enough to visit when an exhibition about Arne Jacobsen (one of Denmark’s most influential architects/designers) was being featured. After exploring the museum, we had a lovely, authentic Danish lunch of place (a fish local to Scandinavian waters), potatoes, and root vegetables while overlooking the nearby fjord.
Next, we headed over to Koldinghus Castle. The once-castle-now-museum sits atop a hill in the center of town and overlooks the entirety of its surroundings. The castle is a great example of adaptive-reuse, and features a number of exhibits that explore the history of Denmark in great detail. Most notably, there was an exhibit whose centerpiece was the retired throne for the Danish Royal family, which is made out of Narwhale tusks (believed to be unicorn horns when first constructed!). My study tour spent the evening getting dinner together and exploring the town – it was a blast.
On Friday I got up early to run around and explore Kolding Fjord. This was probably the most beautiful place I’ve had the pleasure of running, and it was a great way to get to know the area better. I finished my 13-mile run just in time for breakfast back at the hotel before we headed off to Aarhus!
On the way to Aarhus we stopped at two sites: The Jelling Stones and Moesgaard Museum. The Jelling Stones, dating back to the Viking ages are, as our professor says, “quintessentially Danish.” We stopped for a while to sketch – here’s mine!
The Moesgaard Museum is a monolithic structure that holds a vast collection of artifacts from around the world, including, but far from limited to, the preserved human remains of a Viking from 300 B.C.E. and the only preserved remains of a wooly mammoth. Focusing on Scandinavian History, the experience at this Museum was very memorable and educational – there was simply too much in the museum to mention in one paragraph!
Friday afternoon we arrived at our final stop: Denmark’s second largest city, Aarhus. We walked around the town, visiting the City Hall and the city’s capital district before heading to Aarhus Street Food. The food was great, but the company was even better!
Our last stop of the day was Aros Museum of Modern Art. This museum might be my favorite in all of Denmark. Featuring the Rainbow Panorama and an incredible array of modern and installation art, it’s easy to get lost in this building. Once the day’s touring finished, everyone on the tour got dinner, went around the town, and watched the UEFA Cup game before turning in to get a good night’s sleep before our last day on tour.
I kicked off Saturday with another early morning run. I ran 12 miles to the North of Aarhus along the coast. There was a refreshing rain that shrouded the city in a gray mist, but that didn’t stop me from running along the beach and enjoying the mystifying view! I made it back to our hotel for breakfast and got fueled up for another busy day.
Our first stop was Aarhus Crematorium Chapel, a beautiful concrete structure whose ambiance was only enhanced by the gray and rainy weather outside. We grabbed seats in the Chapel and sketched for the better part of an hour – it was fantastic.
Next, we headed over to Aarhus’s largest library and multi-media space, DOKK1. We got some coffee and explored the space before heading to a new development on the harbor front of Aarhus. The development features a bunch of food trucks, modern housing schemes, and most importantly, a harbor bath.
We headed out of Aarhus and stopped to explore the town of Ebeltofte on our way to a ferry which would take us and our bus back to Sjaelland. The waterfront town was incredibly picturesque, with some of the most pleasant streets I’ve experienced during my time in Europe. I even got to catch up with one of my professors from the last time I was at DIS, which was an absolutely amazing surprise – the connections you make at DIS are lasting ones!
Once on the ferry, everybody crowded around each other’s phones to watch the most important part of the trip – UEFA cup game. Denmark was playing the Czech Republic in the Cup’s quarterfinals, and, needless to say, it was a great time.
Whew – what a week!
Looking back, this was one of the most fun adventures I’ve ever had. Denmark may be a small country, but it has a huge heart. I feel incredibly fortunate to have explored new areas I’d never seen before, even though I’ve studied here before! It’s hard to believe the trip went by as fast as it did, but I’m looking forward to new adventures with all of the awesome people I got to know on this journey. On to the next!