June 6: Esbjerg, Ribe

Monday, June 6

Tour Port of Esbjerg with Port CEO Dennis Jul Pedersen
Visit to the Village of Ribe & Ribe Cathedral

About the Port of Esbjerg
Since 1874, the Port of Esbjerg has been the main center for sea carriage and trade between Denmark and the rest of the world. Today, the Port of Esbjerg is an international, multimodal transport center and an important Scandinavian gateway to the world. More than 200 companies employing over 10,000 people are located at the port.

Known as Denmark’s largest fishing port during most of the 20th century, it became the primary base for the Danish oil and gas industry when the Danish Underground Consortium (DUC) discovered the first traces of oil in the North Sea in 1966 and started large-scale extraction from 1971.
In the early 2000s, several companies located in Esbjerg contributed to build Horns Rev I, the first large-scale offshore wind farm in the North Sea, kickstarting the rapid development of offshore wind power in Denmark. Today, more than 80% of the current offshore wind capacity installed in Europe was shipped from the Port of Esbjerg, making it the leading port in terms of handling and shipping of wind power in the continent.

Ribe Cathedral: Church of Our Lady

Ribe is an ancient and significant village on the coast of Jutland, Denmark. It gained power as a trading city and became known as the gateway to the west, welcoming traders from all over Northern Europe. It is not surprising that this worldly city would allow the first Christian church in Denmark to be built in 855.

Ansgar, the Apostle of the North, requested land and the opportunity to build a church from King Horik. The Danes still worshipped the Norse Gods Odin, Thor, and Freyja, but the King allowed Christians to worship alongside his people. In 965, King Herald Bluetooth officially converted Denmark to Christianity, after 100 years of mostly peaceful religious acceptance.

This first building was a simple church of timber construction and was active until around 1150 when the current Cathedral construction began around the simple building. Archeologists have uncovered 82 Christian burial grounds (2000-3000 Christian Viking burials) during this time.

The current Cathedral’s construction lasted from 1150 to approximately 1220. It was originally designed and building began in the Romanesque basilica style of the early Middle Ages, but gradually took on elements of the Gothic style during construction – adding a vaulted ceiling, gothic arched windows and side chapels along the long nave.

The cathedral houses several significant examples of art from this period including the sculpture above the “Cat’s Head Door” depicting the removal of Christ from the Cross, considered the greatest example of Romanesque sculpture in Denmark. The oldest sepulchral monuments in Denmark are also found in the cathedral, the most significant of which is the 1231 work commissioned by King Valdemer for his son.

The cathedral has been through several natural and man made disasters including floods, wars, and fires. It has also gone through many updates, a particularly significant period of renovation took place during the Protestant Reformation of 1536, removing the side chapels to expand the nave into the only 5 aisle cathedral in Denmark. During the 1600 war with the Swedes, the cathedral was outfitted with canons to defend the region and was used as a military lookout and stronghold.

Today, the cathedral has suffered through a changing landscape, sinking in comparison to the rising land around it. It resides in a depression, making it more vulnerable to climate change influenced by increased flooding, threatening it’s foundation. But the cathedral welcomes in the modern world though newly commissioned art, adding a rarely seen integration of modern and middle aged religious art and iconography in the most historically and architecturally significant religious structure in Denmark.

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