Bispetorvet Dinosaur Footprint – Aarhus, Denmark - Atlas Obscura

Bispetorvet Dinosaur Footprint

Bishop's Square

A public display of random paleontology. 


Bispetorvet (Bishop’s Square) in the Danish town of Aarhus seems to be an intersection of coincidence and whimsy, and the dinosaur footprint laid into western wall of the square is no exception. 

Over the last 20 years, Bispetorvet’s very purpose has oscillated between town square and parking lot, never quite settling for either. In the early 20th century, a block of houses to make way for a garish palace-like office building on the square, complete with turrets and spires. When building material prices soared, the project was abandoned. The town bought the empty lot and Bispetorvet obtained its current size and shape.

When the sandstone slabs that had been lining the square since 1921 had to be replaced in 2005, the town sent a delegation to approve the selection and quality of the stones at a quarry in Obernkirchen, Germany. Here they saw a pallet of sandstone that had been taken aside as it contained visible fossils found during quarrying. One of these fossils was the footprint of a dinosaur, that of a species similar to Allosaurus, and the delegation spontaneously decided that a fossilized dinosaur footprint was just what the square needed.

The footprint was installed in 2006 alongside a tablet with a few general facts on Allosaurus, but not a word on how or why the footprint ended up there in the first place, possibly because no one really knew.

Update May 2019: In April 2019 the footprint and the plaque were moved to the opposite side of the square, nearer to the theater. This was done because it was being damaged by people leaning their bicycles against it.

Know Before You Go

The dinosaur footprint is on the inside of the western wall of the square, opposite the theatre. Also note the demon on the theatre's roof, staring down the cathedral.

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