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Ribe Cathedral

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Ribe Cathedral

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Date Posted:March 14th, 2008
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Description: Ribe Cathedral (Church of our Lady), the prominent landmark of the town that can be seen for miles across the flat landscape. The cathedral was begun between 1150 and 1175 and completed between 1225 and 1250. The building materials were tufa stone, a rock of volcanic origin brought home from the Rhine area, German sandstone and Jutlandic granite. At that time there were two towers of equal height on the west side, but on Christmas night 1283 one of them collapsed killing many people inside the cathedral. The present brick-built Commoners´ Tower was completed in 1333. From the 52-metre tower there is a fantastic view of the red roofs of Ribe, the marshes to the west and the low-lying meadows to the east.

At 08.00 and 18.00 every day the Commoners´ Tower carillon plays the melody to a hymn by Brorson, "The most beautiful rose has been found". At 12.00 and 15.00 it plays a folk melody, "Queen Dagmar has taken to her bed in Ribe" from a collection of 100 Danish folk songs published in 1591 by Anders Sørensen Vedel (1541-1616), printed in Vedel´s own printing works just to the west of the cathedral.

With the addition of a row of chapels along each side of the cathedral it became five-aisled, the only one of its kind in Denmark.

At the south of the cathedral, in the southern transept, is a massive bronze door. The door was made at the beginning of this century and is an example of the imaginative relief work of the sculptor, Anne Marie Carl-Nielsen. The "Cat´s Head" is reponsible for the name of the door, the Cat´s Head Door. In fact, the door depicts a lion´s head from the 13th century surrounded by four saurians as a sign of the strength of the church in a very tumultuous world. If a pursued criminal reached the lion´s head, he had gained asylum. The struggle between good and evil is depicted by the weath-ered granite figures at the bottom of the portal.

Above the door is Denmark´s largest medieval sculpture. The semicircular field contains a granite sculpture of The Deposition from the Cross over which the Pediment Relief in sandstone has since been added. This shows The Heavenly Jerusalem to which the crowds aspired, among them royal personages (possibly members of the Danish royal family in the middle of the 13th century) in direct contact with the Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ.

A little to the west of the Cat´s Head Door is a statue of the Danish hymn writer Hans Adolf Brorson (1694-1764), Bishop of Ribe from 1741. Further along, at the foot of the Maria Tower, stands a statue of Hans Tausen (1494-1561), the main figure of the Danish reformation and Bishop of Ribe from 1541.

(Text from Ribe Tourist Office)


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