After visiting Copenhagen, we continued our month long journey of exploring Danish culture through the study of Danish Gymnastics in the city of Viborg which is located in central Jutland! Viborg is actually one of the oldest cities in Denmark.
City of Viborg
Viborg was actually settled by vikings in the late 8th century due to being so close to the Lim Fjord, which was once considered an important waterway through Jutland. Due to the central location of the city, Viborg was important both politically and religiously during the middle ages. Also, the elections of all the Danish monarchs occurred in Viborg. Viborg actually gets its name from two old Norse words. They are ‘vé’, which means holy place or sanctuary, and ‘borg’, which means a type of fortress. The word ‘borg’ originally came from another Danish word ‘bjerg’, which basically means a hill or a mountain so technically, Viborg means a sanctuary on a hill, which helps to sum up Viborg nicely! It is believed that the city existed when King Harald Bluetooth (yes, our current electronic capability of connecting wirelessly to other electronic devices is named after King Bluetooth of Denmark) formed the first Danish Kingdom in the tenth century. Today, Viborg is a vibrant city and is known as one of Denmark’s leading cities for sports and is a great place to visit!
The Cathedral of Viborg
The Cathedral of Viborg is considered one of Denmark’s most important historic churches and was constructed in 1140. Over the years, the Cathedral burned down multiple times and was rebuilt until it finally came to look like it does today with the two Cathedral towers. It is actually considered the biggest granite church in the world. The Viborg Cathedral is also famous for its 84 paintings by Danish painter Joakim Skovgaard, which depict stories from the Bible. The nave is also lit by eight bronze angels with clusters of light bulbs that were designed by the same artist as the paintings. The exterior and interior parts of the Cathedral are worth a visit if you are visiting Viborg for a few days.
Søndersø Lake is located in Viborg and separates the center of the city from the eastern part of the city where the Viborg Gymnastics and Sports Academy is located at. If you like running, there is a great three and half mile loop around the lake and if that distance is too short for you you can take a lap around both Søndersø Lake to the south and Nørresø Lake to the north which makes the loop a total of a little over six and half miles. Even if you aren’t a runner, you can take a nice afternoon walk around the lake to see the beautiful views of the city of Viborg and you can catch a fantastic sunset on a daily basis over Søndersø Lake.
Viborg Gymnastics and Sports Academy
The city of Viborg has gained a reputation for being one of Denmark’s top cities for sports. The sport of handball is hugely popular in Denmark and can be considered their national sport. I really enjoyed learning to play handball and see a completely different sport that I have never had the opportunity to play before. I learned about the sport of Handball, while spending our first week in Denmark at the Viborg Gymnastics and Sports Academy. This boarding school, really considered a sports college was fantastic!
We got to live in dormitories with other Danish students and ate traditional Danish food at the school’s cafeteria. I enjoyed the majority of the Danish food I was able to try. The first day of sports and gymnastics was intense. I thought I was prepared after being a part of the Danish Gymnastics Club at Berea College. Well, I quickly learned how wrong I was. The first day we participated in multiple classes from tumbling, rhythmic gymnastics, handball and a circuit training course. The circuit training exhausted me and drained all my energy for the rest of the day. It had been a long time since I had exercised all day long. Needless to say, I slept soundly that night and every night that week while my body recovered from the all day exercising. The Danish students were all in good shape and very healthy and completed all the exercises effortlessly! I felt like I was in good shape when I first arrived, but after the first day, compared to the Danish students, I had some major work to do. One of my favorite aspects of the school was the underground tunnels connecting each area of the school, like the cafeteria, dormitories, gymnasium, handball court, swimming pool, and tumbling centers all together. This made it much more pleasant to visit each location because you didn’t have to step foot outside in the cold winter air!
As special guests of the school, we were also allowed to teach multiple classes to the Danish students so they could also learn from us in this wonderful intercultural exchange. Since Sarah Beth and I were part of the Berea College Country Dancers, we taught some folk dances from the United States, England and even Denmark, which the students really enjoyed! We also taught a salsa dancing class which they also liked. By the end of the week, we had made some really nice connections with a few of the students and they even had a large social event where we all played Twister! It was a great way to end a fun, but exhausting week!
The city of Viborg and the Gymnastics and Sports Academy was a wonderful introduction to Danish culture and made me want to attend a Danish gymnastics school full time! Make sure to check out some of the other Danish cities we visited on our month long cultural immersion experience in Denmark.
Check out the map below to see where Viborg is located at!
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