Travel as a rejuvenating treatment
Located in the heart of Jutland, the continental part of Denmark, the small town of Billund has developed a specialty that many envy: the delight of families. With their Lego models, roller coasters, giant slides, wild animals and incredibly realistic dinosaurs, the region's amusement parks ensure the happiness of young and old alike. Such glories can only be enhanced by a few Vikings, fairy tale castles and a little mermaid.The whole world knows them. With Barbie and Playmobil, it is among the great classics in the realm of toys around the world. Since its creation in 1949, it has sold 327 billion copies. Such is its success that it has propelled the business that manufactures it to the top of the world ranking of toy manufacturers. We are talking about the famous Lego bricks, pieces of plastic which, assembled together, allow children to build everything they dream of, from the Pyramids of Egypt through medieval castles to Star Wars ships.
Millions of bricks
The Lego Group and its famous bricks were born in Billund, a small town of 26,000 souls in central Denmark. The company founded by Ole Kirk Christiansen has remained faithful to its hometown. Not only has the company kept its head office there, therefore ensuring Billund enjoys a degree of prosperity, but in addition, it was chosen to be the home of Legoland, an amazing amusement park which attracts almost two million visitors to the region each year. Opened almost fifty years ago, this small paradise that children enjoy as much as their parents, has developed ceaselessly and currently offers some 50 attractions across nearly ten different themed area.Roller coasters, pirate ships, panoramic train and monorail system will take up your day. But visitors especially come here for Miniland and its "miniature" replicas made of Legos. Around the world in eighty strides. There you can see Columbia Space Shuttle, an A380 and a Concorde at an airport, or even a Statue of Liberty of three meters high. You can discover the port of Copenhagen, the Egyptian temple of Abu Simbel and the giant heads of the Rushmore Memorial. Twelve meters high, the faces of US Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt required 1,500,000 Lego and 40,000 Duplo bricks. It is in fact one of the major creations in a park that, since its inception, has multiplied achievements of this kind, accumulating today the awe-inspiring total of more than 60 million bricks. Placed end to end, the Lego bricks would make a line 1,500 kilometres long, the distance from Billund to Verona.
Back to the real world for another family outing: one leading forty minutes outside Billund, to discover the zoo In Givskud. Lions, zebras, giraffes, monkeys, hippos, camels, elephant, zebu, bison: this Noah's Ark is home to over 700 residents. And you can also see some 40 dinosaur species… Actually, to be strictly accurate, they are faithful life-size reproductions. But these false Triceratops, T-Rex and Diplodocus are very lifelike!
The Viking spirit
Step outside of the world of childhood to discover one of Northern Europe's most beautiful regions: Southern Denmark. It was the cradle of the Danish nation since Ribe, a charming town located less than an hour's drive from Billund, is considered the first Scandinavian city, being founded at the beginning of the eighth century. Its long and beautiful history is apparent even today, in the centuries-old houses of the old town, in the docks of its small fishing port, or in the three belfries of its cathedral - the oldest in the country, since Christianisation of Scandinavia started at Ribes. It was still the time of the Vikings, those warriors and sailors feared throughout Europe. The city pays tribute to them through two institutions: the Viking Museum and the Viking Centre, a reconstitution of a village of the time, where you can chat and work with authentic (or almost) Normans.Of Vikings and their history, there is more to see at Vejle. In Jelling, a small village of this municipality of over 50,000 inhabitants, there are in fact two rune stones engraved in the 10th century at the request of the kings Gorm the Old and Harald Bluetooth, his son. The largest of these two stones bears a Christ on the Cross. It is thus considered as the "certificate of baptism" of the Danish people. But Vejle is not only famous throughout the country for this mineral monument: it is also renowned for its commercial life. Here, shopping is king. The town boasts over one kilometre of pedestrian streets featuring hundreds of shop-windows showcasing both national and international brands, as well as local crafts.
A fairy tale
From Billund, it is also easy to reach the Funen (barely 1h by road). This island is considered the green lung of Denmark, because of its extremely luxuriant nature. The Danish call it in fact "the Orchard island", or "the Garden of Denmark". But it is also very known by another name: "the island of castles". In fact, this island has the highest concentration of castles in the world. An outstanding architectural heritage, also featuring very many mills, remarkable villages and the historic heart of Odense, the island's capital and the country's third city, and one of its oldest also with over one thousand years in existence. This beautiful metropolis was the birthplace of the most famous Dane of all time: Hans Christian Andersen, creator of the Ugly Duckling, the Little Match Girl, the Princess to the Pea and, in particular, of the Little Mermaid and the Snow Queen.
Must-see in Billund and its surroundings :
Legoland resort : heaven for children and all those who have preserved their inner child. You can even sleep in the park, in a hotel decorated according to the toy brand's great hits.Lalandia : Scandinavia's largest water park is in Billund. Its huge dome covers wave pools, water slides, wild river…The island of Mandø : one of the islands on the Wadden Sea, a coastal sea that bathes west Denmark. For its wild, quiet landscapes…The castles of Funen : The island of castles is home to many wonders, such as Egeskov castle. This water castle surrounded by wonderful gardens and a small lake, is a magnificent building that looks like something right out of one of Andersen's tales, and is the home, among other attractions, of a vintage cars and motorcycles museum and the so-called "Dracula" crypt.The Hans Christian Andersen museum : together with the writer's childhood home, this museum is one of the many tributes paid by the city of Odense to her most famous child. For fans of the Snow Queen!
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