The king's gate

Title and year
The king's gate, 1996

Granite and cast iron

Erik Heide, b. 1934

The marketplace between H. P. Hanssens Gade and Madevej, Aabenraa


The local discipline known as “ring-riding” is a theme often seen in sculptures across South Jutland. At the marketplace in Aabenraa stands Erik Heide’s interpretation of ring-riding, created to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Aabenraa county ring-riders’ association (Amtsringriderforeningen) in 1996: a ring-rider’s lance has been driven through two great granite stelae and, on its way through, has captured the coveted ring – making the successful rider the king or queen of the tournament.

This sculpture sets the stage for the time-honoured ring-rider’s procession, an equestrian parade held every year on the first weekend of July. Here, more than 400 riders and their mounts come together at The king’s gate. The president of the Amtsringriderforening rides through the sculpture’s gate, leading the procession of riders and musicians through the town to the large ring-rider square, Ringriderpladsen, near Hjelm Allé, which serves as the tournament ground. When the marketplace was rebuilt in 2020 as part of Aabenraa’s extensive urban renewal project, a crucial task for the landscape architects was to integrate The king’s gate into the design of the new urban space. Note, for instance, how the shape of the ring mirrors the curved lines of the new mounds in the square, creating a delicate, playful contrast to the monumental granite stelae