Odense city has 158,163 inhabitants, as of January 1, 2008 and is the main city of the island of Funen. It is the seat of Odense Municipality and was the seat of Odense County until 1970, and Funen County from 1970 until January 1, 2007 when the county became part of Region Syddanmark.
- For the Catholic ecclesiastical history, see Roman Catholic bishopric of Odense
Odense (from Odins Vé, meaning "Odin's shrine", referring to the god Odin of Denmark's indigenous Norse mythology), is one of the oldest cities of Denmark and had its 1000th anniversary in 1988. To celebrate this, a forest named "the Thousand Year Forest" (Danish: Tusindårsskoven) was cultivated. The shrine of Saint Canute (Danish: Sankt Knud / Knud den Hellige) in Saint Canute's Cathedral held great attraction for 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.
Odense's most famous landmark was Odinstårnet (The Odin Tower) constructed in 1935, as the second-tallest tower in Europe, only surpassed by the Eiffel Tower. Odinstårnet was blown up by a Danish Nazi group in 1944 and has never been rebuilt. However, a miniature model of it now stands in the residential area Odinsparken in the area where the original tower was.
Until the beginning of the Danish industrial revolution, Odense was also the 2nd largest city in modern Denmark, but has in recent times been overtaken by Aarhus.
Famous residents of Odense
- author and poet Hans Christian Andersen
- Classical composer Carl Nielsen was also born near Odense.
- King Canute IV, (ca. 1043 - July 17, 1086), also known as Canute the Saint and Canute the Holy
- Industrialist, banker and philanthropistCarl Frederik Tietgen
- Inventor and industrialist Thomas B. Thrige
- Handball player, Anja Andersen
- The cartoonist Henrik Rehr was born and grew up in Odense
- Her Royal Highness Birgitte, The Duchess of Gloucester was born and raised in Odense.
- Caroline Wozniacki, tennis player
- Peter Eastgate, winner of the Main Event at the 2008World Series of Poker
- Musician Kim Larsen
Saint Canute's Cathedral (Danish: Sankt Knuds Kirke) was formerly connected with the great Benedictine monastery of the same name, and 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 (Danish: Knud), the patron saint of Denmark, who had planned to conquer England from William of Normandy. He was slain in an insurrection at Odense in 1086. Odense is also the see of the bishop of Funen. * The cathedral has the skeletons of both the Saint/King and his brother on public display, it also boasts of one of Denmark's finest altarpieces, a magnificent triptych by Claus Berg. A large fragment of Byzantine cloth is displayed next to the two skeletons.
There is a theatre as well as a symphony orchestra, a zoo, and the Funen Village (Den Fynske Landsby) which is an open air museum with old houses typical for Funen.
The City Hall has a small scar from a battle between Germans and members of the Danish Resistance on 5 May 1945. The city's coat of arms - located above the main entrance to City Hall - is damaged. On close inspection, the kneecap of Saint Canute is penetrated by a bullet.
The 4 most visited attractions in 2007 were:
- Odense City Museums
- Odense Theatre
- Odense Fjord
- Churches & Cathedrals
- Odense Zoo
- Odense Central Library
- Odense Sportspark
- University of Southern Denmark previously known as Odense University
- Odense Symphony Orchestra
- Odense Music School
- Danish Railway Museum