Ribe Cathedral is the oldest cathedral in Denmark. Vor Frue Kirke (The Church of Our Lady), as the cathedral is actually called, became the only five-aisled cathedral in Denmark following numerous alterations and additions. The present-day building is characterised by a wealth of different styles and interesting details.
The first church in Ribe was built in 860 by the missionary monk Ansgar who went on to become Archbishop of Hamburg. It was a timber church built with the permission of King Horik I on the south side of the river across from the market. The first stone cathedral was begun by Bishop Thur in 1110 and completed in 1134. Tufa stone was imported from Germany to build a permanent structure, since stone in the area was not available. The cathedral was built in the Romanesque style with half-rounded arches supporting a flat timber ceiling, a typical basilica style building patterned after churches in northern Germany.
A terrible fire in 1176 burned the town and the new cathedral. Because it was not completely destroyed, Ribe Cathedral is Denmark's best preserved Romanesque building. The remnants of the old were blended with new construction in a new building material for the time, large red bricks. The church was enlarged so that the nave was flanked by double aisles on each side. In parts of the church, the old flat ceilings were raised and Gothic vaulting installed.
Late in the 12th century a magnificent main door way was carved for the cathedral. The relief above the door shows Jesus being taken down from the cross. About 50 years earlier a triangular relief showing the Day of Judgement was placed above the main door. The door is called the cat's head portal because of the two lions at the base of the two columns flanking the doorway. The triangular relief is considered one of the largest remaining romanesque granite reliefs.
There are sepulchral monuments to some of the most powerful men of the town and the nation, as well as the oldest sepulchral monument in Scandinavia, erected by King Valdemar the Conqueror to a son who died in 1231. Borgertårnet (The Commoners’ Tower), which dates from the 14th century, functions as the town’s watchtower and storm tower and provides amazing views of the marshes.
The organ facade is from the Johan Heide organ of 1635. The main altar piece was painted by Ebbe Jehn Petersen.References:
The Church of Saint Demetrius, or Hagios Demetrios, is the main sanctuary dedicated to Saint Demetrius, the patron saint of Thessaloniki. It is part of the site Palaeochristian and Byzantine Monuments of Thessaloniki on the list of World Heritage Sites by UNESCO since 1988.
The first church on the spot was constructed in the early 4th century AD, replacing a Roman bath. A century later, a prefect named Leontios replaced the small oratory with a larger, three-aisled basilica. Repeatedly gutted by fires, the church eventually was reconstructed as a five-aisled basilica in 629–634. This was the surviving form of the church much as it is today. The most important shrine in the city, it was probably larger than the local cathedral. The historic location of the latter is now unknown.
The church had an unusual shrine called the ciborium, a hexagonal, roofed structure at one side of the nave. It was made of or covered with silver. The structure had doors and inside was a couch or bed. Unusually, it did not hold any physical relics of the saint. The ciborium seems to have been a symbolic tomb. It was rebuilt at least once.
The basilica is famous for six extant mosaic panels, dated to the period between the latest reconstruction and the inauguration of the Byzantine Iconoclasm in 730. These mosaics depict St. Demetrius with officials responsible for the restoration of the church (called the founders, ktetors) and with children. An inscription below one of the images glorifies heaven for saving the people of Thessalonica from a pagan Slavic raid in 615.
Thessaloniki became part of the Ottoman Empire in 1430. About 60 years later, during the reign of Bayezid II, the church was converted into a mosque, known as the Kasımiye Camii after the local Ottoman mayor, Cezeri Kasım Pasha. The symbolic tomb however was kept open for Christian veneration. Other magnificent mosaics, recorded as covering the church interior, were lost either during the four centuries when it functioned as a mosque (1493–1912) or in the Great Thessaloniki Fire of 1917 that destroyed much of the city. It also destroyed the roof and upper walls of the church. Black-and-white photographs and good watercolour versions give an idea of the early Byzantine craftsmanship lost during the fire.
Following the Great Fire of 1917, it took decades to restore the church. Tombstones from the city"s Jewish cemetery - destroyed by the Greek and Nazi German authorities - were used as building materials in these restoration efforts in the 1940s. Archeological excavations conducted in the 1930s and 1940s revealed interesting artifacts that may be seen in a museum situated inside the church"s crypt. The excavations also uncovered the ruins of a Roman bath, where St. Demetrius was said to have been held prisoner and executed. A Roman well was also discovered. Scholars believe this is where soldiers dropped the body of St. Demetrius after his execution. After restoration, the church was reconsecrated in 1949.