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A Carolingian Viking medieval church is recreated in Denmark


Steffen Hoejager | Shutterstock

In the viking age, Ribe was the greatest city in what was to become Denmark. Here, the Missionary Ansgar build the first Christian Church on Danish Soil.

Daniel Esparza - published on 05/25/24

The Ansgar Church murals offer a unique chance to step back in time and experience a 9th-century church in all its colorful glory.

Visitors to Ribe VikingeCenter in Denmark can now experience a stunning recreation of a 9th-century church interior. The Ansgar Church boasts 50 murals, meticulously researched and created over a three-year period.

As explained by, the Ribe VikingeCenter is renowned for its immersive Viking Age experiences, and the Ansgar Church is another impressive addition. The church was inspired by the first church built in Ribe by Ansgar, a missionary who later became Archbishop of Hamburg.

The recreation reflects what this church likely looked like in the year 860. The murals themselves are a fascinating glimpse into early Christian art. The artists opted for the Carolingian style, which dominated church decorations and manuscripts in Europe during the 9th century. This style, explains, is quite different from the Romanesque style found in Denmark’s oldest surviving churches.

The subject matter of the murals is equally captivating. The murals draw heavily from the St. John Abbey Church in Switzerland, known for its well-preserved frescoes. To ensure stylistic consistency, all other influences were adapted to match the chosen style and painting techniques.

Another surprising aspect of the murals is their color palette. Contrary to popular belief, 9th-century imagery wasn’t limited to muted earth tones. The Ribe VikingeCenter used a bright color scheme based on research done by the National Museum of Denmark in 2017. The pigment itself is a recreation of Viking Age egg tempera made with linseed oil, egg, and water.

The Ansgar Church murals offer a unique chance to step back in time and experience a 9th-century church in all its colorful glory. This detailed project by the Ribe VikingeCenter sheds light on an often-overlooked aspect of Viking Age art and culture.

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