Odense is the third-largest city in Denmark. It has a population of 175,245 as of January 2016, and is the main city of the island of Funen. By road, Odense is located 45 kilometres (28 mi) north of Svendborg, 144 kilometres (89 mi) to the south of Aarhus and 167 kilometres (104 mi) to the southwest of Copenhagen. The city is the seat of Odense Municipality and was the seat of Odense County until 1970, and Funen County from 1970 until 1 January 2007, when Funen County became part of the Region of Southern Denmark. Odense has close associations with Hans Christian Andersen who is remembered above all for his fairy tales. He was born in the city in 1805 and spent his childhood years there.
There has been human settlement in the Odense area for over 4,000 years, although the name was not mentioned in writing until 988, and by 1070, it had already grown into a thriving city. Canute IV of Denmark, generally considered to be the last Viking king, was murdered by unruly peasants in Odense's St Alban's Priory on 10 July 1086. Although the city was burned in 1249 following a royal rivalry, it quickly recovered and flourished as a centre of commerce in the Middle Ages. After a period of decline, large-scale plans for development were made during the 18th century, which led to the rebuilding of Odense Palace and the building of a canal to the Port of Odense, facilitating trade. In 1865, one of the largest railway terminals in Denmark was built, further increasing the population and commerce, and by 1900, Odense had reached a population of 35,000. Odense's Odinstårnet was one of the tallest towers in Europe when built in 1935 but was destroyed by the Nazis during World War II. The University of Southern Denmark was established in 1966.
In the present day, Odense remains the commercial hub of Funen, and has a notable shopping district with a diversity of stores. Several major industries are located in the city including the Albani Brewery and GASA, Denmark's major dealer in vegetables, fruits and flowers. The city is home to Odense Palace, erected by King Frederik IV who died there in 1730, the Odense Theatre, the Odense Symphony Orchestra, and the Hans Christian Andersen Museum, situated in the house that was the birthplace of Hans Christian Andersen. In sports, Odense has a number of football clubs including OB, BM, B1909, and B1913, the Odense Bulldogs professional ice hockey team, and the city also hosts the H.C. Andersen Marathon. Odense is served by Hans Christian Andersen Airport and Odense station, which lies on the line between Copenhagen and the Jutland peninsula.
Odense is situated in the northeastern centre of the island of Funen. By road, Odense is located 45 kilometres (28 mi) north of Svendborg, 144 kilometres (89 mi) to the south of Aarhus, 167 kilometres (104 mi) to the southwest of Copenhagen, 136 kilometres (85 mi) east of Esbjerg and 69 kilometres (43 mi) southeast of Kolding. Suburbs of Odense include Stige to the north, Seden, Bullerup and Agedrup to the northeast, Blommenslyst to the west, Bellinge to the southwest, and Neder Holluf and Højby to the south.
The Odense River flows through Odense, to the south of the main shopping quarter. To the northeast of the city is the Odense Fjord, and to the northeast, along the 165 road to Kerteminde is Kerteminde Fjord. The fjord is accessed through the narrow passage of Gabets, between Hals and Skoven, and is connected by canal to the Port of Odense. The small fishing village of Bregnor lies 2.3 miles (3.7 km) to the southeast of the passage. A controlling depth of 11 metres (36 ft) is reported in the northern part of channel between the entrance to the fjord and Lindo Terminal Quay. The bight of Fyns Hoved to the northeast of the harbour curves south to form the approach to Odense Fjord. The eastern side of the bight between Fyns Hoved and Skoven, 5.5 metres (18 ft) to the south, is irregular, with a beach and hills behind it, and to the south of the bight is the small, shallow Korshavn Bay, with the Korshavn Light in the vicinity. Skoven is a bare, rugged peninsula, with Dalby Bay (Dalby Bugt) to the east.
In the southwestern part of the Odense Fjord are the islands of Vigelsø and the 21 hectare Tornø, although the latter is connected to the mainland by a 300-metre (980 ft)-long causeway. Vigelsø is the largest island in the fjord at 132 hectares and is an important breeding ground for migratory birds. It is part of the Special Area of Conservation No. SPC 94, Odense Fjord under the EU Habitat and Birds Directives and has been subject to close monitoring, with the target to reach at least "good" ecological status by 2015. The island is low-lying, the highest point of Østerhoved only reaching six metres above the sea. There is a 25 hectare forest on the northern part of the island while the southern part consists of coastal meadows.