Ribe Cathedral

Last week I was in Denmark, not a very royal vacation for a change, but I did see a few things connected to Danish royalty.

On Wednesday I was in Ribe, the oldest existing town in Scandinavia, that celebrated its 1300th anniversary in 2010. Lovely old streets and houses, several museums worth a visit. I was there with friends and we only had a good look at the cathedral and climbed the 52 metres high red brick Commoner’s tower from around 1300. Outside the cathedral is a pretty modern statue of Saint Ansgar (801-865), a monk, later Archbishop of Hamburg, whose mission it was to christen the people in northern Europe. He managed to build up relations with two Danish kings, Horik the Elder († 854) and his successor Horik II, although they never became Christians. Ansgar in 860 founded the first church in Ribe. The building of the present church on the same location – partly rebuilt several times – began between 1150 and 1175 and was completed between 1225 and 1250. After having climbed all the way up to the tower of the cathedral I found a little “shield” with the initials G S, a crown and the year “1928”. Not quite sure who the initials belong to, so if anybody knows …

What I could have known, if I had looked for it before travelling, was that there were a few kings buried in this cathedral. There is however not that much royal to see anymore. The first king to be buried in the cathedral was King Erik II Emune (ca. 1090-murdered 1137), who only reigned for three years. All that reminds of him here is a painting and an epitaph in Latin. Also buried at Ribe Cathedral is King Christoffer I (1219-1259), who is also honoured with a painting and an epitaph. Both memorial tablets were put up in 1576 by the historian Hans Svanning. Christoffer was buried in front of the high altar. The big black tombstone was taken out from the grave in 1987. It is the oldest royal tombstone in Scandinavia and made of black Belgian marble. Next to it stands his sarcophagus.

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