The day Hans Christian Andersen nearly died in Burgos


The immortal Danish author almost lost his life in that city because of a brazier


Hans Christian Andersen, the immortal author of The Ugly Duckling and The Little Mermaid, among others, travelled to Spain in 1862, which he toured from top to bottom. On his visit to Burgos to see the tomb of El Cid, he almost suffocated to death by a brazier.

It is said that Hans Christian Andersen first came into contact with the Spanish in 1808. On that occasion, King Charles IV sent thousands of soldiers to Odense (Denmark), the city of his birth, to help his then French allies.

The sight of those soldiers became an obsession, but he had to wait until 1862 to visit Spain. Accompanied by Jonas Collin, son of his friend Edward Collin, he visited Barcelona, Valencia, Murcia, Malaga, Granada, Madrid, Toledo… And Burgos.

Burgos.


He took away great memories of all those cities, but the first thing that surprised him was to enter Burgos in winter and find a city full of snow. He even wrote:

«The snow was falling in small mounds. Here was a vineyard, there a solitary pine tree; he no doubt thought, as I did, ‘Am I really in Spain, in a warm country?

That was the reason why he missed the tomb of El Cid, inside the cathedral. But what nearly cost him and his companion their lives was staying in a boarding house, the Fonda de Rafaela, then the best in town. As there was no fireplace in the room, they were brought a brazier to warm their hands and feet. And then…

«My companion and I were on the verge of getting a ticket to eternity; we almost died of the stench. I woke up feeling tightness in my heart and a headache; I called Collin, but he was even more dizzy, it took me great effort to get out of bed and, stumbling like a drunkard, I reached the balcony but the leaves of the door had stuck; I felt a great anguish and heaviness, I gathered my strength and finally I could open it; the snow flew in.»

Source: Onda Cero and Cervantes Virtual

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