Odense is the third largest city in Denmark with 144,636 inhabitants (2003) and the capital of the island of Funen (Danish: Fyn).
Odense (from Odins Vi, i.e. "Odin's Sanctuary") referring to old Norse mythology, is one of the oldest cities of Denmark and celebrated its 1000th anniversary in 1988. Saint Canute's shrine was a great resort of pilgrims throughout the middle ages. In the 16th century the town was the meeting-place of several parliaments, and down to 1805 it was the seat of the provincial assembly of Funen.
The city lies close to Odense Fjord on the River of Odense (Odense Å). It has a station on the railway route between Copenhagen and Jutland and Schleswig-Holstein via Korsør. A canal, 15 1/2 to 21 ft. deep, gives access to the town from the fjord.
The famous author and poet Hans Christian Andersen was born here on April 2 1805. A house in the old part of Odense has been turned into a museum with a large collection of his works and belongings. Also his childhood home is a museum.
Odense also features a museum honoring the classical composer Carl Nielsen, who was born near Odense.
Saint Canute's Cathedral, formerly connected with the great Benedictine monastery of the same name, is one of the largest and finest buildings of its kind in Denmark. It is constructed of brick in a pure Gothic style. Originally dating from 1081 - 1093, it was rebuilt in the 13th century. Under the altar lies Canute (Knud), the patron saint of Denmark, who intended to dispute with William of Normandy the possession of England, but was slain in an insurrection at Odense in 1086. The bishop of Funen resides here.
Kings John (Danish: Hans) and Christian II are also buried within the walls. Our Lady's church, built in the 13th century and restored in 1851-1852 and again in 1864, contains a carved altarpiece (16th century) by Claus Berg of Lübeck. Odense Palace was erected by King Frederick IV, who died there in 1730.
There is a theatre as well as a symphony orchestra, a zoo, and the Funen Village (Danish: Den Fynske Landsby) which is an open air museum with old houses typical for Funen.
The commercial national television company TV 2 is based in Odense.
The islands Funen and Zealand (Danish: Sjælland) were recently connected by the Great Belt Bridge (Danish: Storebæltsbroen). Probably still the second longest suspension bridge in the world. Cars drive on two bridges from either island to a small island approximately halfway. Trains ride on a low bridge and in a tunnel, the train ride from Odense to Copenhagen is 1 hour and 15 minutes.
Several large industries are located in or near Odense. Denmark's biggest shipyard, Odense Steel Shipyard owned by the A.P. Møller-Mærsk Group is situated in the neighbouring town Munkebo. The biggest sales auction of vegetables, fruits and flowers (GASA) in Denmark is situated here. The Albani Brewery brews the local Odense Pilsner amongst others.