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 moated castle at Beersel is one of the few exceptionally well-preserved examples of medieval fortifications in Belgium. It remains pretty much as it must have appeared in the 15th century. Remarkably, it was never converted into a fortified mansion. A visitor is able to experience at first-hand how it must have felt to live in a heavily fortified castle in the Middle Ages.
The castle was built in around 1420 as a means of defence on the outer reaches of Brussels. The tall, dense walls and towers were intended to hold any besiegers at bay. The moat and the marshy ground along its eastern, southern and western edges made any attack a formidable proposition. For that reason, any attackers would have chosen its weaker northern defences where the castle adjoins higher lying ground. But the castle was only taken and destroyed on one occasion in 1489, by the inhabitants of Brussels who were in rebellion against Maximilian of Austria.
After being stormed and plundered by the rebels it was partially rebuilt. The pointed roofs and stepped gables are features which have survived this period. The reconstruction explains why two periods can be identified in the fabric of the edifice, particularly on the outside.
The red Brabant sandstone surrounds of the embrasures, now more or less all bricked up, are characteristic of the 15th century. The other embrasures, edged with white sandstone, date from the end of the 15th century. They were intended for setting up the artillery fire. The merlons too are in white sandstone. The year 1617 can be clearly seen in the foundation support on the first tower. This refers to restorations carried out at the time by the Arenberg family.
Nowadays, the castle is dominated by three massive towers. The means of defence follow the classic pattern: a wide, deep moat surrounding the castle, a drawbridge, merlons on the towers, embrasures in the walls and in the towers, at more or less regular intervals, and machiolations. Circular, projecting towers ensured that attacks from the side could be thwarted. If the enemy were to penetrate the outer wall, each tower could be defended from embrasures facing onto the inner courtyard.
The second and third towers are flanked by watchtowers from which shots could be fired directly below. Between the second and third tower are two openings in the walkway on the wall. It is not clear what these were used for. Were these holes used for the disposing of rubbish, or escape routes. The windows on the exterior are narrow and low. All light entering comes from the interior. The few larger windows on the exterior date from a later period. It is most probable that the third tower - the highest - was used as a watchtower.