In terms of historical sights, Ribe is a town without compare in Denmark. It is Denmark’s, and Scandinavia’s, oldest town and every corner oozes history. Ribe has the largest number of preserved buildings in Denmark outside Copenhagen, but in Ribe you can walk to them all, while in Copenhagen they are spread over a much larger area. You’ll find about 120 preserved buildings in Ribe.
Urban renewal in Ribe
Although Ribe is old, development hasn’t stalled. Urban renewal is ongoing, fitting respectfully into the old city, while differing in both design and materials.
Here are a few examples from the past year.
Ribe Cathedral Square
Where Ribe Cathedral was formerly in a hollow following centuries of accumulation of surrounding deposits (the cultural layers), you will now find the paving sloping down.
The renovation of Ribe Cathedral Square, designed by the Danish Schonherr Landscape Architects (Schønherr), rewarded the citizens with a lovely square for events all year round and for hanging out in cafes and restaurants during summertime. The town square is now a beautiful and functioning public space with the Cathedral as a natural centre.
The renovation also improved vehicular and pedestrian movement and appearance, though the outcome has proved controversial and started a debate about the proper balance between the rights of the vehicles and pedestrians.
Kannikegården – The Canon Monastery
Kannikegården is a building of visionary new architecture on the town square opposite Ribe Cathedral. It is designed by the Danish architects Lundgaard and Tranberg. It belongs to Ribe parish’s parochial church council and houses the parochial church council and the staff at Ribe Cathedral. The building is raised above Denmark’s first Christian cemetery, dating back to the Mid-800s, when the German Apostle Ansgar – known as the “Apostle of the North” – was permitted by King Horik of Denmark to built the first Danish Christian church in Ribe. Nobody knew if and where this church was built in Ribe, until the former building at this place burned down and archaeologists were allowed funds to excavate the area. Here they found the cemetery with these early Christian-Viking graves.
Outside Ribe Cathedral facing Kannikegården is placed a new and modern statue of Ansgar, the “Apostle of the North”.
A later canon’s monastery dating back to the mid-1100s was found in the same excavation and gave the building its name, Kannikegården. Some of the excavation has been preserved , so you can have a look through the building’s perimeter glass facades and see walls from the canon monastery’s dining room. In this way these ancient walls are integrated into the new building, telling a very important part of ancient Danish history to the public.
Chilling by the river
A new wooden terrace by Ribe River only a few steps from the hostel was inaugurated a month ago. The terrace is the result of an exemplary collaboration between citizens of Ribe town and Esbjerg municipality. It is a great place for chilling out with a glass of wine or an ice cream cone while enjoying the view of Ribe River, the old town or the sunset over Ribe and the Wadden Sea National Park.
Both Ribe citizens and guests of Ribe have immediately taken the terrace into their hearts.
Do you want to know more about Ribe ?
- Ribe is not an open air museum, but a lived-in old town: Roses and hollyhocks in the cobbled alleys of the Viking town
- Ribe has a vibrant town centre all the year round – also at the festive season: Christmas and winter in Ribe is special. 30 photos from Ribe in Denmark
- Danhostel Ribe’s recommendations for 10 free things to do in Ribe
- Lonely Planet wrote “The jewel in Jutland’s Viking crown is Ribe: Viking Ribe in Viking Denmark
- Denmark’s oldest town seen through the eyes of a young Copenhagen art historian and newcomer
Book a room at the hostel in Ribe
You don’t even have to leave your room to enjoy the beauty of Ribe’s skyline – the most photographed view in town.