Odense City Hall
Weather vane from Odense City Hall. This vane was put up in connection with the building of the 'new' city hall in 1879. It is now at Møntergården in Odense. Photo: Jens Gregers Aagaard.
Pane of glass from Odense City Hall with the text: 'INSIGNIA CIVITATIS OTTONIENSIS 1610', som betyder 'Odenses byvåben 1610'. This pane is now at Møntergården in Odense. Photo: Jens Gregers Aagaard.
Mayor's chair from Odense, 1883. On the back of the chair is the city's coat of arms nestling within a fine arrangement of oak leaves. This chair is now at Møntergården in Odense. Photo: Jens Gregers Aagaard.
Odense's present town hall was completed in 1883. The old town hall had become too small, and a town hall reflecting Odense's position as Denmark's then second-largest city was now required. There has been a town hall on this site since the Middle Ages.
In 1879, the municipal council decided to build a new city hall in Odense. It was to be a magnificent building, appropriate to Denmark’s second-largest city. But already shortly after completion, cracks appeared in the almost 60m-high tower, and it threatened to collapse. The tower was therefore demolished and rebuilt at the expense of the architect. The city hall tower was demolished for a second time in 1942 as no funds were available to renovate it, and it has never been rebuilt.
This location is part of the exhibition 'Funen – at the centre of the universe', at Møntergården in Odense. Read more about the exhibition on our website.
Who rules Funen?
During the 19th century, the people of Funen had more influence on the local government. In the market towns, leading merchants were elected and, in the country, major farmers gained more power with the establishment of parish councils in 1841. During the next 100 years, still more people were given the right to vote at municipal elections including small landowners, domestic servants and, from 1909, women, too.
On the road to democracy
Until the introduction of autocracy in 1660, Odense had two mayors and as many as 12 aldermen. They were the city’s government – also called the municipal authority. The king appointed the mayors while the council itself selected its members, often from among the city’s leading merchants. With the introduction of autocracy, the king gained more influence over the composition of the municipal authority and greater power over the citizens of Odense. But in 1776, the 'selected men’s assembly' was established and the chosen citizens had the opportunity to exert an influence. The office was unpaid, and all members were chosen by the municipal authority – i.e. the kings officials. In 1797, the rules were changed so that it was the citizens themselves who chose members of selected men’s assembly. As a consequence, citizens steadily gained more influence on matters in their city.