Ribe Cathedral

Ribe, Denmark

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.

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Address

Torvet 13-15, Ribe, Denmark
See all sites in Ribe

Details

Founded: 1110
Category: Religious sites in Denmark
Historical period: The First Kingdom (Denmark)

Rating

4.5/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Zed Jesterkpark (3 years ago)
Ribe is a really nice place.
Russell Holden (3 years ago)
Iconic building in the centre of town.
Hans Kjaersgaard (3 years ago)
Lovely old cathedral in the oldest town in Scandinavia
Hans-Henrik S. Hansen (3 years ago)
Beautiful church in the center of historical town of Ribe.
Hans Olav Nymand (3 years ago)
Impressive romanesque cathedral and one of the oldest churches in Denmark. Nice little museum accessible from the tower.
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