Nestled in the heart of Aarhus, Denmark, The Old Town (Den Gamle By) is a living testament to Danish town culture. As an open-air town museum, it offers a unique window into the country’s rich history and heritage. This family-friendly attraction is more than just a collection of historical buildings; it’s a time travel experience that transports visitors back to different eras of urban history.

Location and Significance in Aarhus

Located in the vibrant city of Aarhus, The Old Town is a cultural landmark that stands as a symbol of Danish cultural preservation. Representing historical town representation, this open-air museum consists of 75 original style buildings collected from 20 settlements all over Denmark. It’s not just a museum but an authentic Danish experience that reflects the traditional architecture and lifestyle of the past.

Overview of the Museum’s Collection

The Old Town’s museum collection is a treasure trove of Danish history and anthropology. Divided into three main quarters representing the years 1864, 1927, and the 1970s, visitors can explore more than 80 houses and flats, each decorated in their original style.

The living history exhibits provide an interactive display of period costumes and daily life, while the Poster Museum showcases a vast collection of historical posters. The Gallery of Decorative Arts is a must-see, featuring silverware, delftware, porcelain, clocks, and watches.

One of the highlights is the Jewellery Box, housing 1000 Danish jewelries from 1900-2000. Temporary exhibitions with specific themes add to the richness of the experience, making Den Gamle By a hub for educational tours and cultural tourism.

Whether you’re a history enthusiast or a curious traveler, The Old Town offers a glimpse into the soul of Denmark, making it one of the top Aarhus attractions. Its blend of historical reenactment, traditional Danish crafts, and themed events provides a multifaceted experience that resonates with visitors of all ages.

Historical Overview

Den Gamle By, translating to “The Old Town,” was founded in 1909, making it one of the first open-air museums in Denmark. Its creation was a pioneering effort in historical preservation, aimed at capturing the essence of urban life in different time periods. The museum’s development over the years has seen the careful relocation and restoration of buildings from various parts of Denmark, each representing a unique slice of history.

Buildings and Architecture

The museum consists of 75 historical buildings, each meticulously preserved and restored to its original glory. These structures, collected from 20 settlements across Denmark, showcase a wide array of architectural styles and functions. From humble cottages to grand merchant houses, the buildings in Den Gamle By reflect the diversity of Danish traditional architecture. Visitors can explore homes, shops, schools, and workshops, each furnished and decorated to represent different eras, including the 1864, 1927, and 1970s quarters.

Time Periods Represented: 1864, 1927, 1970s

The Old Town’s unique layout allows visitors to walk through time, experiencing three distinct eras of Danish urban history. The 1864 quarter paints a picture of a small market town with cobblestone streets and half-timbered houses. The 1927 quarter brings the roaring twenties to life, with jazz music, vintage cars, and bustling shops. The 1970s quarter, on the other hand, offers a nostalgic trip to a more recent past, capturing the vibe of a modern city with its contemporary architecture and lifestyle.

These time periods are not just static displays but living history exhibits where actors in period costumes reenact daily life, providing an interactive and immersive experience. Whether it’s watching a blacksmith at work in 1864 or shopping in a 1970s supermarket, Den Gamle By offers a tangible connection to the past, making it a must-visit destination for history enthusiasts and curious travelers alike.

Den Gamle By in Aarhus, Denmark

Exhibits and Collections in Den Gamle By

Living History Exhibits

One of the standout features of The Old Town (Den Gamle By) is its living history exhibits. Visitors are not merely observers but active participants in a journey through time. Actors in period costumes bring the past to life, whether it’s a housewife working in her 1927 kitchen or a shopkeeper attending to customers in the 1864 quarter. These interactive displays provide an authentic Danish experience, allowing guests to engage with history in a tangible and memorable way. From traditional crafts to daily chores, the living history exhibits offer a multifaceted view of Danish urban life across different eras.

Poster Museum

The Poster Museum within The Old Town is a unique attraction, housing a vast collection of historical posters. This exhibit showcases the evolution of advertising and graphic design in Denmark, featuring everything from political propaganda to commercial advertisements. The vibrant and artistic posters provide insight into the cultural trends and societal values of different time periods. It’s a visual feast that appeals to art enthusiasts, historians, and anyone interested in the interplay between art and society.

Gallery of Decorative Arts: Silverware, Delftware, Porcelain, Clocks, and Watches

The Gallery of Decorative Arts is a testament to the craftsmanship and artistic heritage of Denmark. This exhibit features an exquisite collection of silverware, delftware, porcelain, clocks, and watches, each piece reflecting the elegance and sophistication of Danish design. Visitors can explore the intricate details of these decorative items, appreciating the skill and creativity that went into their creation. From ornate silver tea sets to delicate porcelain figurines, the gallery offers a glimpse into the luxury and refinement of past eras.

Jewellery Box: 1000 Danish Jewelries from 1900-2000

The Jewellery Box is a sparkling addition to Den Gamle By’s exhibits, showcasing 1000 Danish jewelries from 1900-2000. This collection highlights the evolution of jewelry design in Denmark, featuring pieces that range from classic elegance to modern minimalism. Whether it’s an Art Nouveau brooch or a contemporary necklace, each piece tells a story of artistic expression and personal adornment. The Jewellery Box is not just an exhibit but a celebration of Danish creativity, adding a touch of glamour to the historical exploration of The Old Town.

Visitor Experience

A visit to The Old Town is a delightful journey through time, offering an immersive experience that goes beyond a traditional museum tour. Guests can expect to interact with characters from different eras, explore authentically furnished buildings, and even participate in period-specific activities. From the charm of cobblestone streets to the nostalgia of vintage shops, The Old Town provides a sensory-rich experience that engages visitors of all ages. It’s a place where history comes alive, and every corner holds a story waiting to be discovered.

Time Required for a Complete Visit in The Old Town

The Old Town is a vast open-air museum with much to explore. Visitors typically spend between 2 and 4 hours to see it all, depending on their interests and pace. Those who wish to delve into the details of each exhibit and fully engage with the living history displays may want to allocate more time. Whether you’re on a leisurely exploration or a quick historical tour, The Old Town (Den Gamle By) offers flexibility to suit different schedules, ensuring a fulfilling and enjoyable visit.

Special Events and Activities

Throughout the year, The Old Town hosts various special events and activities that add to the visitor experience. From seasonal festivals to themed weekends, there’s always something happening in this lively historical town. Guests can enjoy traditional Danish celebrations, craft workshops, musical performances, and more. These events provide an opportunity to experience Danish culture in a fun and interactive way, enhancing the connection to the past. Keep an eye on the museum’s calendar for upcoming events that align with your visit.

Visitor Reviews and Recommendations

The Old Town consistently receives high praise from visitors, earning its reputation as one of the top Aarhus attractions. Travelers commend the authenticity of the exhibits, the friendliness of the staff, and the overall educational value of the museum. Many recommend taking guided tours to gain deeper insights into Danish history and culture. Whether you’re a history buff, a family with children, or simply curious about the past, The Old Town offers something for everyone. It’s a must-visit destination that promises a memorable and enriching experience.

Practical Information

Opening Hours and Admission Fees

The Old Town/Den Gamle By is open year-round, with varying hours depending on the season. It’s advisable to check the official website for the most up-to-date information on opening times. Admission fees are reasonable, with discounts available for children, students, and seniors. Family packages and group rates are also offered, making it an affordable attraction for all. Special exhibitions may have separate fees, so it’s wise to plan ahead to make the most of your visit.

How to Get There

Located in the heart of Aarhus, The Old Town is easily accessible by public transportation, including buses and trains. If you prefer to drive, there’s ample parking available nearby. For those staying in the city center, a leisurely walk or a quick bike ride can also lead you to this historical gem. The museum’s central location makes it a convenient destination, whether you’re a local resident or a tourist exploring the city.

Accessibility and Facilities

The Old Town is committed to providing an enjoyable experience for all visitors. Most areas of the museum are wheelchair accessible, and there are facilities to assist those with mobility challenges. Guide dogs are welcome, and special arrangements can be made for visitors with specific needs. Amenities such as restrooms, cafes, and gift shops are available on-site, ensuring a comfortable visit. The museum’s staff is always ready to assist, making sure that everyone can explore and appreciate the rich cultural heritage of Denmark.

Nearby Attractions and Accommodations

A visit to The Old Town can be part of a broader exploration of Aarhus. The city is home to various attractions, including the ARoS Aarhus Art Museum, the Botanical Gardens, and the Aarhus Cathedral. Combining a trip to Den Gamle By with these nearby landmarks offers a fulfilling day of culture and sightseeing.

For those planning an extended stay, Aarhus provides a wide range of accommodations to suit different budgets and preferences. From luxury hotels to cozy bed-and-breakfasts, you’ll find the perfect place to rest after a day of historical exploration. Many accommodations are within walking distance of The Old Town, adding to the convenience of your visit.

The Old Town in Aarhus (Den Gamle By)

Conclusion and Future Prospects

The Old Town/Den Gamle By is more than a museum; it’s a living tapestry of Danish history and culture. Its unique blend of architecture, exhibits, and interactive experiences offers a window into the soul of Denmark. From the humble cottages of the 1864 quarter to the vibrant streets of the 1970s, The Old Town captures the essence of urban life across different eras. It stands as a testament to the nation’s heritage, preserving the past while educating and inspiring future generations.

Future Exhibitions and Plans

The Old Town continues to evolve, with exciting future exhibitions and plans in the pipeline. The museum’s commitment to historical preservation and innovation ensures that new displays and interactive experiences are regularly added. Upcoming projects aim to further enrich the visitor experience, providing fresh perspectives on Danish history and culture. Whether it’s a new themed event or a restored historical building, The Old Town’s future prospects promise to keep the museum vibrant and engaging for years to come.

How The Old Town Reflects Danish Culture

The Old Town is a microcosm of Danish culture, reflecting the values, traditions, and artistic heritage of the nation. Its exhibits showcase the craftsmanship, creativity, and community spirit that define Danish identity. From traditional celebrations to contemporary design, The Old Town embodies the essence of Denmark, offering a tangible connection to the past while resonating with modern sensibilities. It’s a place where history is not just observed but lived, making it a cultural landmark that transcends time.

Final Thoughts and Encouragement to Visit

A visit to The Old Town/Den Gamle By is a journey through time, a celebration of heritage, and an exploration of identity. It’s a destination that appeals to history enthusiasts, families, tourists, and anyone curious about the human experience. With its rich offerings and dynamic approach, The Old Town invites you to step into the past, engage with the present, and be inspired for the future. Don’t miss the opportunity to explore this historical gem in the heart of Aarhus, where every street, building, and artifact tells a story.


Kim is a passionate traveler hailing from the picturesque country of Denmark. With an insatiable wanderlust and an adventurous spirit, Kim has embarked on countless journeys, exploring the world's diverse landscapes, cultures, and cuisines. Traveling has become a way of life for Kim, offering not only an escape from the routine but also a profound source of inspiration and personal growth.

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