It was an easy bike ride from our campsite on the outskirts of Ribe in Denmark to the famed VikingeCenter. We had heard good things about this popular Danish tourist destination but were a little worried that it would be very child focused (nothing wrong with that) and maybe not aimed at adults at all.
However, we were soon reassured that it held heaps of appeal to anyone who has an interest in the history of the Vikings.
From the moment we arrived we were taken back to Viking times – the cooking smells, the noise of people doing various crafts, the dim interiors of the huts, the heritage animals, and the full range of buildings reproduced to be as close as possible to homes, farms, sheds and workshops that would have been seen in Ribe 1300 years ago.
We spent a very pleasant few hours wandering round the massive site and especially enjoyed the market area and of course, the Viking boats and boat making workshop.
We had a little bit of lunch in the cafeteria and were astonished at the prices – around AUS$25 -$30 for two very average filled rolls. Water was only sold in single use bottles and we were refused tap water!
In the late afternoon we cycled into Ribe – a really enchanting town with an interesting Cathedral, cobbled streets and gorgeous Medieval buildings.
Established around 710 AD, Ribe is the oldest existing town in Denmark (and actually in the whole of Scandinavia) and was right at the centre of the Viking era.
The city began as an open trading market on the north bank of the Ribe River where it runs into the North Sea. Danes, Norwegians, Swedes, Germans, Frisians, English and other cultures all brought goods to exchange here.
One of our first stops was Ribe Cathedral which was founded in the Viking Era and completed in the middle of the 13th Century and was the first Christian church in Denmark.
It has been restored, expanded and decorated repeatedly. As it stands today, the Cathedral is the best preserved Romanesque building in Denmark.
While we were looking round the Cathedral organ music suddenly filled the beautiful interior which was just lovely.
Just across from the main entrance of the Cathedral we stumbled upon a strange looking building which we discovered housed the remains of a monastery refractory which existed between 1145 and 1217 AD.
The refectory was one of the first brick buildings in Denmark and came to light during excavations between 2008 and 2012 which also revealed 83 Christian graves from the Viking era.
Visiting Ribe was a great introduction to Viking culture and history although eating out and even having a beer in the pub proved to be outrageously expensive ($25 for two small beers)!