A weekend among installations, skyscrapers and gourmet destinations in a destination that rivals Copenhagen for liveliness and dynamism

To capture the spirit of Aarhus, the second Danish city that competes with Copenhagen for dynamism and liveliness, you need to look out at the Student Hause any Friday at midday of the University. It is the moment in which university students from all courses meet in one of the numerous bars set up outdoors to socialize, mixing ferments and ideas destined to become fuel and stimulus for the city.

Walkways suspended over the street, festivals that attract food lovers from all over the world, villages that reconstruct the city of the past, architecture projected onto that of the future. And, again, historic libraries that become hostels, automated car parks that swallow cars into their bowels to deliver them back to the exit and a town hall icon of democracy, built by Arne Jacobsen with Erik Moeller in full Nazi occupation.

Since 2018, Aarhus has been showing the world the way to stay young. Few other realities have been able to treasure the title of European capital of culture like this center of Jutland with 350 thousand inhabitants.

For at least six years, the "city of smiles" has been experiencing the long wave of a rebirth that starts from the colorful streets of the Latin Quarter and reaches up to the port area, where a visionary master plan has returned the waterfront to the citizens, populating it with designer residential architecture, gourmet bars and restaurants, Danish-style en plein air lounges equipped with trampolines, saunas and games for the little ones.

The eye of Aarhus, 44 floors for 142 meters.

The latest arrival in this city that grows with a smile is the Lighthouse by 3XN Architects. In an area, on the sea, where Iceberg already shone, the white and blue pointed residences designed by JDS Architects and CEBRA in collaboration with seARCH and Louis Paillard, and the Harbor Bath by BjarkeIngels, this 142-metre skyscraper nicknamed "the eye of Aarhus".

Awarded as the best vertical building in the world in its category (100 - 199 metres), placed like a lighthouse on the tip of the city looking across the sea, the skyscraper was created to give the new capital of architecture what it didn't yet have : a landmark accessible by land, sea and air.

"Taking inspiration from water, nature and the movements of the waves, the building reflects the diversity of the city and the differences between its inhabitants", says Samuel, the guide who accompanies us to discover it: "The new lighthouse is a cardinal around which to develop a compass of activities and social relationships".

To create Lighthouse, the canals were repopulated with tons of blue mussels, the leftover cement and stones were used to recreate a habitat suitable for marine fauna, they were planted 3500 algae of different species.

The eye of Aarhus is also its storytelling, which takes place in the basement of the building, about twenty meters under water, where the interactive exhibition Byen & Bugten tells how Aarhus has evolved on the strength of opposing forces such as technology and the relationship with the sea.

Den Gamle By, the colorful fake of the old city

The opposite of the modern city is the ancient one which comes to life in Den Gamle By, the widespread open-air museum, inaugurated in 1914, which gives life to a highly original and entertaining fake. Here, the news says, around three million visitors a year arrive to admire the houses rebuilt in retro style complete with post office and customs, school and theatre. There are ateliers and drugstores from the past, half-timbered facades and sloping roofs, horses, carriages and figures like in a Disneyland where Mickey and Minnie are the Danes of the last century.

Poetry about the sea, the infinite bridge

In its simplicity, The Infinite Bridge is the architectural installation on the sea which, in 2015, opened the season of works destined to transform the face of the city. Signed byGjøde & Povlsgaard Arkitekteris a circular walkway that unites water and earth in a single breath. In this ring of sixty meters in diameter you can walk freely, lie down, meditate after a run in the neighboring park, in continuity with nature.

Aros, Eliasson's rainbow and Mueck's boy

In 2007, when Olafur Eliasson won the competition for the rooftop of the Aarhus Museum of Contemporary Art, Facebook and Instagram did not yet exist and the word filter had nothing to do with with the option to observe reality from a personal perspective.

With the pretext of drawing something imaginative, the artist of Icelandic origin captures the spirit of the time that is beginning to emerge and creates this wonderful multicolor ring that changes the landscape from above the city.

Your Rainbow Panorama has, since then, been a fundamental stop on any trip to Denmark, but the entire museum is dotted with works that have become famous, starting with Ron's "boyfriend". Mueck, the disturbing and out-of-scale sculpture of an adolescent who changes expression, going from a grimace to a smile, depending on the perspective. Up to the light installations of James Turrell and, again, of Eliasson himself.

Street Food and the largest public library in Northern Europe

Set up in a disused bus depot, the Street Food Market in Aarhus is the ideal place to enjoy local cuisine as well as that from all over the world, hosted in the open-air and outdoor spaces that have become a center of city ​​nightlife.

Before leaving the city by car, a stop at Dokk 1 is a must, the largest public library in Northern Europe where foreigners become citizens by being able to access a number of services designed for tourists as well as who comes to stay here for work.

Between study and reading rooms and bars overlooking the sea for a total of 30 thousand square metres, the futuristic car park stands out where the car disappears on a lower floor to be returned, upon exit, automatically in another garage, recognized by the credit card with which we paid for the coupon.

Moesgaard, the museum for past civilizations

Classified among the green attractions of Denmark, the Moesgaard Museum designed in 2014 by Henning Larsen Architects is an architecture appreciated throughout the world for the roof that seems to take off from the hill that surrounds it host. About twenty minutes' drive from the city, the museum houses archaeological and ethnographic works, including the Grauballe Man, a mummified body dating back to 300 AD, preserved in perfect conditions, and exhibitions immersive that tells the story of ancient civilizations. In the summer, the museum's roof becomes a platform that can be used freely, while in the winter it is a snow-covered slope to cross with a sled.