Snuggled in the Santa Ynez Valley in Santa Barbara County, is the charming town of Solvang, which translates a "Sunny Meadows," and is known as the 'Danish Capital of California." One of my husband's co-workers told us to make an effort to take a detour east from Santa Barbara to visit this town on our trip north to San Francisco along the Pacific Coast Highway. She knew that we'd enjoy its friendly, fairy tale appearance.
Solvang was founded in 1911 on almost 9,000 acres of the Rancho San Carlos de Jonata Mexican land grant, by a group of Danes who traveled west to establish a Danish colony far from the Midwestern winters. There is still a significant Danish population in Solvang, and a number of bakeries, restaurants, and merchants offering a taste of Denmark. The architecture of many of the facades and buildings reflects traditional Danish style.
There was so much to see and do there that I'm sorry we could only spend one afternoon walking around town.
On the top floor of this charming little book store called The Book Loft, located at 1680 Mission Drive, was the Hans Christian Anderson Museum. Hans Christian Anderson was Denmark's most famous writer. Although Andersen wrote travel journals, plays, novels, and poetry he is best know for his endearing children's Fairy Tales, which have been translated into more than 100 languages.
The Book Loft also contained a large collection of books about all the Scandinavian countries, books in the various Scandinavian languages, as well as book in English, and a large selection of children's books.
The museum is devoted to presenting the author's life and works. Displays include models of Andersen's childhood home and of his The Princess and the Pea fairy tale.. The museum also contains hundreds of volumes of Andersen's works, including many illustrated first editions.
We also took some time to visit the Mission of Santa Ines located at 1760 Mission Drive in Solvang. Santa Ines is the nineteenth of 21 missions established by Franciscan priests from 1769 to 1823. It was founded on September 17, 1804 by Father Estévan Tapís. Santa Ines is the Spanish version of the name "Saint Agnes." Early English settlers changed the spelling to "Santa Inez" when naming the mountains surrounding the area. Saint Agnes was a Christian who was martyred for her faith in Rome in 304 AD.
The interior of the church is beautiful and very decoratively painted. The statue of St. Agnes, dating from the 18th Century, is located in a niche above the main altar, and almost appeared to glow, as the soft afternoon light shone upon it. The mission is still an active parish.
The historical museum at Santa Inés is one of the best in the mission chain. It contains an extensive display of Latin missals and handmade parchment music books, some far older than the mission and many magnificent works of art work, vestments, statuary, documents and mission artifacts.
As with all the missions we visited on this trip, the gardens and cemetery of Santa Ines were lush and peaceful. We really enjoyed visiting this "Hidden Gem of the Missions," as it is also known.
Before we departed Solvang the next morning we stopped at Olsen's Danish Bakery for a Danish pastry and coffee. There were so many delicious pastries to chose from that of course we had to have more than one!
We went back on the road, headed towards San Luis Obsipo. I had to visit a fun location there that I read Susan Branch blog about ... I love Susan's cheerful blog! I'll be sharing more about that in my blog post for Pink Saturday .. you won't want to miss it!
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Our World Tuesday
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