I managed to visit the city of Aarhus just at the end of 2017, concluding its reigning year as the designated Culture Capital of the EU. I had wanted to visit the second biggest Danish city for a very long time while living here, but never managed to find the right time. Then when it was chosen to represent the EU as the top city for culture in 2017, my intrigue only grew as to what there was to see in Aarhus.
I talked to many people about it to ask them how they liked Aarhus as a city. I got many mixed opinions. Some people loved it, even more than Copenhagen. They thought it was a cozy and charming city and enjoyed the size of it. Others are rather indifferent, it's an okay city, but too small.
I was finally able to visit just after Christmas to make my own opinion of it. I was especially curious to discover what made it the culture capital. I realized that a lot of it had to do with the events that passed through the city in the given year, most of which happened prior to my visit. I was especially sad to miss the concert of Phillip Glass and the performance of Wayne McGreggor's Tree of Codes, performed by the Paris Opera Ballet, sets by Olafur Eliasson, and score by Jamie XX.
So my trip, while consisting of major FOMO (or really just the MO), instead required me to look at the aftermath of this year. It was the end of 2017, so I had to see what was left of its happening. Was it just a spark of creativity that came to Aarhus in 2017? Or has it been a lasting effect that has changed the city altogether?
This city's role as culture capital focused a lot on traditional Danish culture but also had a very progressive way of innovating under its city's theme of "Rethinking". Parallel to the changes in society, in technology, in globalization, culture and creativity must learn to adapt, which is the biggest premise of this theme.
Naturally, I wandered through the city. I discovered many wonderful areas and places. I had a very eerie early morning walk along the harbour, where it was nearly empty in this very industrial part of town. I'm drawn to the water everywhere I go, but it almost felt abandoned, except for the single family that had taken their kids to come play in the puddles. I then also noticed the Dome of Visions, a creative, sustainable, temporary dome with the initiative to make use of otherwise unused space. I remembered this structure from a few years back when it showed its face in Copenhagen.
I had a phenomenal time at ARoS, the art museum, and finally walking Olafur Eliasson's Rainbow Panorama. I visited Den Gamle By, a sort of preserved heritage, open-air museum, with buildings left as they were from the 20th century. I was able to walk through Danish apartments and stores as they were in the 70's, and you know how I love the 70s... I stumbled upon Aarhus Street Food (important to me, as I missed the closing of the Copenhagen Street Food). I also went to Dokk 1, a very impressive public library.
Overall, the culture is strong in Aarhus and it truly is an interesting city worth visiting. Had I been there longer, I would have tried to see more of the museums. Had I been there earlier, I would have been at all these incredible events happening during the year. But nevertheless, it's a very cool city.