The cultural history of the region is closely connected to the nature surrounding it. The old cathedral town, Ribe, celebrating its 1300 year anniversary in 2010, lies in the middle of the flat landscape, surrounded by water. The landmark of the town, the cathedral, is the best kept Roman cathedral in Denmark and begets the prosperity of the town. There is a reason why it has reached a top placing with 3 stars in the Michelin guide. Storm tides and rough weather have left their marks on this beautiful town over the years. Nevertheless, Ribe is today one of the best preserved medieval towns of the country.
Culture for everyone
Southwest Jutland welcomes its guest with a wide range of cultural experiences.
Being a tourist in Southwest Jutland times simply flies by. Whether visiting museums or exhibitions, churches, crafts or galleries – Southwest Jutland is full of culture. But it is also a part of Denmark, where traders, warriors, monks and seafarers used to travel and this is visible.
Ribe is known for its wonderful buildings. Ribe is special, since it’s the oldest town in Denmark and situated beautifully in the flat landscape. Ribe has for centuries been centre for trading, administration and religion. The Vikings were the first to found a market place in the year 700. The location was perfect. The small ships could easily reach the river harbour and the flat lands made it easy to detect enemies from afar. In the museum Ribes Vikinger, daily life, trade with Europe and some of the pretty jewelry and crafts are exhibited. The impressions from a visit here can then be implemented at the Ribe Vikingecenter. In a reconstructed Viking village in authentic size, you can taste, feel and try for yourself, how daily life looked in the Viking Age. Middle Ages and royal times superseded the Vikings and the age of administration started. A walk through the old town centre is like a journey into history. Ribe is because of the cathedral still a religious centre. Visit the cathedral and enjoy the wonderful church room with lime stone paintings by the artist Carl-Henning Petersen. A great example for modern church art. If you feel up to it, talk a walk up the tower. The view over town and marsh will make the efforts worthwhile and you will see why the tower was used as watchtower and even had cannons in case of war.
Take a stroll through Ribe and discover the many details that add to the charming spirit of Ribe: beautifully decorated doors and corbels, slanting facades, street lamps from an age gone by, and more. With its outstanding status as Denmark’s oldest and best preserved town, Ribe offers a unique atmosphere. Ribe is one of the few towns in Denmark, which still has a beautifully preserved medieval town centre with old half-timbered houses, cobblestone streets and a cathedral as the crucial centre point.
Throughout Ribe, there are details which in most other towns vanished long ago. To wander through the old town is to travel back though time. As evidenced by the numerous memorial plaques, many of the beautiful buildings can be linked to famous people and certain periods of the thousand-year history of the town. Ribe’s dramatic history is about Vikings, kings, queens, bishops, traitor, witches, floods and fires. You can’t help to be enchanted by the authentic medieval town and its history.
The ambience of the old town also makes a shopping trip a special pleasure. Select speciality shops line the pedestrian street like pearls on a string, and there is a wide selection of grocery stores with fresh food for the holiday household.
Ribe has a lot of cosy restaurants and cafés, each with their own particular character. Visit one of the many small oases where – in summer – you can enjoy your meal outside. There is always room whether you are in the mood for a cup of coffee, a light lunch or a delicious, well-prepared dinner.
Throughout the season, Ribe invites to several events, such as Wine festival, Jazz festival, Waddensea festival, The biggest Wiking Market in Denmark, night arrangements, and every Wednesday morning from May to September it is market day for the young and the young-at-heart on Skibbroen by the old harbour.
Black sun and Waddensea
Ribe has unique nature experiences to offer.
With its variability and fascinating Fauna, the Wadden Sea is a unique piece of nature in Denmark and because of this it was recently predestined to be a new national park. There are many ways to enjoy the diverse nature in this part of Denmark. Further the region has many delicacies to offer, juicy marsh lamb, sausage and oysters, which are harvested in the flat Wadden Sea.
At the Wadden Sea, it is evident how man has tried to protect himself against the powerful sea. Ribe Kammersluice and the dykes surrounding it are an example for the skills used to fight against flooding and storm tides. A fight, not always won by man.
The Wadden Sea is characterized by the fact that the water withdraws two times a day. Every time, about one billiard cubic meter of water is drawn out through the 4 furrows, which connect the Wadden Sea with the North Sea. This process is called low tide and the opposite high tide. The difference between low and high tide are 2 meters and takes place every 6 hours and 12 minutes. Nevertheless, this time designation is not reliable. Changing weather and wind conditions can delay low and high tide. So if you want to talk a tour out onto the wade and walk on the dry sea bed on low tide, you should check the tidal calendar on www.dmi.dk. And just remember – the way back is as long as the way out!
A walk on the sea bed is a very unique experience – no matter at what time a year and how the weather is. Another unique experience is a trip to the small Waddensea island Mandø. Mandø can only can be reaches during low tide, Mandø Island is located in the Wadden Sea south west of Ribe. Travelling to Mandø , the tide sets the stage and the time. Driving to and from Mandø Island is only possible, when the tide is low. In the summer you can daily take the bus, by itself, the bus trip is an adventure. From Mandø you can also visit Koresand, a big sand bank south west of the island Mandø. Take a trip with another tractorbus “Sælen” to the sand bank and experience the unique nature and see some of the 3000 seals, when they come to the coast for food search and a rest on the dry sand banks. You will also have the possibility to go bathing and to find amber.
A large number of birds live in the Wadden Sea as well. Every year, between 10 and 12 millions birds visit the Wadden Sea to eat. One of the bird species, visiting in spring and fall, is the starling. The starling is playing the leading part in the magnificent nature show “black sun”. At sundown, the starlings fly to the marsh from all corners of the earth and gather in large groups of up to 500.000 birds to spend the night in the reed. The many birds cover the setting sun, therefore the term „black sun“.
The phenomenon has become quite an attracting event and there are even guided tours to the marsh for people to study this strange view. Black sun even gets a dramatic twist, when birds of prey appear. If a group of birds are hunted by e.g. a sparrowhawk, it is possible to see the masses of birds change direction and form.
Even though it is relaxing to do nothing on your holiday, you might want to be active as well. If you are in Southwest Jutland, it is possible to be active. There are many fun and interesting offers, for instance a seal safari, which is a unique experience. The participants walk with a nature guide on the dry sea bed to the sand banks, where the seals are resting. Just like on an oyster safari, where the trip goes to the oyster banks, and the oysters are eaten on the spot or harvested and taken back to land, where they are enjoyed. For both trips, good shoes are recommended. For disabled persons, there are special wheel chairs available on the Wadden Sea trips.
A tasteful holiday
Southwest Jutland’s kitchen – with tastes of Wadden Sea and marsh lands.
Great and culinary adventures are awaiting guests in Southwest Jutland. Not least because the Wadden Sea is a treasury of delicacies, from North Sea prawns and oysters to juicy marsh lamb and fat cattle. Animals, grazing on the salty meadows at the Wadden Sea, develop a unique taste, caused by them eating the plant puccinellia. The plant is salty and gives the meat its distinct taste.
The Wadden Sea is full of very big and tasty oysters, very like the pacific oyster,. Some gourmet restaurants in Southwest Jutland even offer Wadden Sea menus with many specialties: oysters, clams and North Sea prawns, juicy lamb, sheep or beef. All is prepared with affection and respect for the delicate products.
If you prefer to prepare your own meal, it is easy to collect oysters in the Wadden Sea and then bring the food home to the tent, camper, holiday home or the resting place to cook it. All is served well with a beer from the local brewery. You can soon tell that hospitality in Ribe is important and that people are proud of their region and the products. Visit one of the many inns or restaurants and take a journey through time. You will often experience thatched houses with original fittings and lovely, local food.
In Southwest Jutland food is not only locally produced. Regional products like wool, amber, reed, soap, jewelry, crafts, candles and flowers are made and often sold here in farm shops, where you might even have the chance to see an active farming production.
Find more information about RIbe and Destination Southwest Jutland and the many attractive offers in the region on www.visitribe.dk and www.sydvestjylland.dk.