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Aarhus, Denmark

Ã…rhus is situated in a green valley surrounded by woods and beaches - in fact a typically beautiful East Jutland landscape.

The original city grew up around the mouth of the Ã…rhus river. Here the Vikings decided to settle because of the location\'s excellent potential as a harbour and trading position. The Danish word for \"river mouth\" was at that time \"AROS\", and this is the word from which \"Ã…rhus\" of today originates. During the Viking Age a cluster of houses along the river up to Immervad and down to the Mejlgade street constituted a small urban community encircled by an earthen rampart and a moat.

In 1201 the foundation stone for the Cathedral was laid, and the city started to expand outside the original area. During the Middle Ages until the Reformation in 1536, it was the urban life around the cathedral which was the central element of the town. After the Reformation the large merchants\' houses gradually began to form the pivotal point for life and trade in the town, but it was not until the mid-nineteenth century that the actual expansion of Ã…rhus into the city we know today began to take place.

In 1847 a major expansion of the harbour was begun. This work was completed in 1861 which coincided with the opening of the first section of the railway line in Jutland between Ã…rhus and the town of Randers in 1862. Ã…rhus thus became an important centre for goods and transport, thereby forming the basis for the development of the city into Denmark\'s second-largest city with the country\'s second-largest harbour.

Today Århus has a population of approximately 300,000 inhabitants, a very active business community, a vibrant educational environment consisting of a number of different institutions of higher education, including the University of Aarhus, which means that there are many young people contributing to the life and vibrancy in the city and its continued growth. The city has a wealth of excellent restaurants, a fascinating café environment, and a rich musical culture with the Concert Hall, the Aarhus Symphony Orchestra, and the Danish National Opera counting among its many offers. Other exceptional features include a wide range of excellent heritage museums, such as the Old Town and the Moesgård Museum, and a treasure trove of fascinating shops.

From the original Viking settlement Ã…rhus has today become a modern, vibrant city which offers visitors the chance to experience its glorious past as well as the throbbing pulse beat and pace of the present.

Most of central Århus is easily covered on foot. There are many pedestrianised streets, narrow streets, open spaces, squares and car-free zones. If you want to go shopping, the best places to go are: the newly-renovated pedestrianised high street \"Strøget\" which stretches from the railway station to the Cathedral; the city squares; the \"Latin Quarter\"; and along the re-opened section of the Århus Å river where you will find a string of vibrant and pleasant cafés.

It is also in these parts of the city that you find Old Ã…rhus. In the \"Latin Quarter\" there are many fine buildings dating back to the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. Previously these used to be merchant\'s houses and small commercial concerns whereas today they have been converted into shops, restaurants and offices. In the city centre there are also several of Ã…rhus\' architectural gems such as the old Customs House, the Ã…rhus Theatre, the Hotel Royal and the old City Hall which now holds The Women\'s Museum and The Occupation Museum.

Just north of the old city centre, at most a 10-minute walk, lies the City Hall park with the Ã…rhus City Hall, and, immediately opposite, the Concert Hall, the Scandinavian Congress Center - and from next year the new Ã…rhus Art Museum, and from this point it is only a further 10 minutes on foot to the Old Town.

The city also boasts several parks and green areas which are perfect for strolling in or for just sitting down on a bench to relax. The Old Town is located in the Botanical Gardens with its wonderful array of fascinating plants and trees and its marvellous greenhouses - large glasshouses with tropical plants.

The Memorial Park, which is in a wonderful location in front of the Marselisborg Palace leading down to the Bay of Århus, boasts vast lawns, huge old trees, the Rømer Garden with a wealth of flowers, and the monument to commemorate Danes who were killed as enlisted soldiers in the German army during WW1.

A stone\'s throw from here lies the Marselisborg Palace Park which is open to the public when the Royal family is not in residence. The park, which has exceptional views of the bay, holds a fine collection of sculptures which are distributed throughout the park in an inspired and striking manner.

Both north and south of the city there are woodland areas which are perfect for strolling and both the local and the district councils organise nature walks in the area.