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Subject: European route E45, Ely, Cambridgeshire, Esbjerg, Hedeby, Christian IV of Denmark
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The main street of Ribe
The main street of Ribe
Coat of arms of Ribe
Coat of arms
Ribe is located in Denmark
Location in Denmark
Country Denmark
Region Southern Denmark (Syddanmark)
Municipality Esbjerg
Population (2014)
 • Total 8,168
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 • Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Postal code 6760
Website .dk.ribewww

Ribe (German: Ripen) is a Danish town in southwest Jutland and has a population of 8,168 (1 January 2014).[1] It is the seat of the Diocese of Ribe covering southwestern Jutland.

Until 1 January 2007, Ribe was the seat of both a surrounding municipality, and county. It is now part of the enlarged Esbjerg Municipality in the Region of Southern Denmark.

Ribe is the oldest extant town in Denmark, established in the early 8th century in the Germanic Iron Age.


Established in the first decade of the 8th century[2] and first attested in a document dated 854; Ribe is the oldest extant town in Denmark (and in Scandinavia). The town celebrated its 1300th anniversary in 2010.[3]

When Ansgar the Archbishop of Hamburg-Bremen, set out on the "Mission to bring Christianity to the North", he made a request in about 860, to King Horik II of Denmark, that the first Scandinavian church be built in Ribe. This was not coincidental, since Ribe already at that point was one of the most important trade cities in Scandinavia. However the presence of a bishop, and thus a cathedral, in Ribe can only be confirmed from the year 948. Recent archaeological excavations in Ribe have however led to the discovery of between 2,000 and 3,000 Christian graves. They have been dated to the 9th century indicating that a large Christian community was already living peacefully together with the Vikings at the time.[4] Excavations conducted between 2008 and 2012 have also revealed more details of the original church built by Ansgar.[5]

The town has many well-preserved old buildings, Ribe Cathedral, and about 110 houses are under Heritage Protection. Denmark's oldest town hall is found on the town's Von Støckens Plads. The building was erected in 1496, and was purchased by the city for use as a town hall in 1709.


  • Early 8th century, founding of Ribe.
  • Ribe flourished during the early medieval period as an important trading centre, or emporia, primarily connecting Western Europe and Scandinavia.
  • The Ribe Cathedral started to be built in 1150 under the current bishops reign, which was built on top of an earlier church, most probably Ansgar's Church, built in 860.[6]
  • The Treaty of Ribe was proclaimed in 1460.
  • 3 September 1580: a great fire destroys a large part of the town. 11 streets and 213 houses burn down.
  • 11–12 October 1634: a storm tide floods the city with waterlevels rising to 6.1 meters above average.
  • 1 January 2007: the Municipality of Ribe ceased to exist as it merged with the municipalities of Esbjerg and Bramming, now forming a new municipality of Esbjerg.
  • 4 June 2010: residents celebrated the city's 1300th anniversary with a town-wide party[7]

Cultural and environmental features

There are numerous cultural and environmental features of Ribe. Among the cultural highlights are notable churches and museums. The flora and fauna, while depleted in large part from the man-made development and surrounding agricultural land conversion, retain notable aspects of the natural environment. The Ribe River flows through town[8] and hosts certain elements of riparian habitat. Certain notable birdlife is found in and near the town; the European white stork, Ciconia ciconia, is one of the historic inhabitants of the town, choosing to build nests atop chimneys. This bird has steadily declined in population throughout Western Europe due to agricultural land conversion as well as droughts in its wintering range in Africa.[9]

The following list some of the specific town features:

Ribe Cathedral
  • Churches
    • Ribe Cathedral (Ribe Domkirke) [1] — The bells of Ribe Cathedral [2] playing the folk song about Queen Dagmar called Dronning Dagmar ligger i Ribe syg ("Queen Dagmar lies in Ribe sick").
    • Saint Catharinæ Church and Monastery.
  • Museums
    • Ribe Viking Museum (Museet Ribes Vikinger) [3]
    • Ribe Art Museum (Ribe Kunstmuseum) [4]
    • Ribe Viking Centre (Ribe Vikingecenter) [5]
    • Denmark's oldest province museum (Antikvarisk Samling)
  • The Night Watchman in Ribe [6]. Every evening from 1 May until 15 September you may accompany the night watchman in Ribe on his route through the old town, while he is singing to alert citizens about bedtime approaching.
  • Wadden Sea Center (Vadehavscentret) [7]
  • Mandø Mill (Mandø Mølle)
  • The Mandø House (Mandøhuset)
  • Mandø Island nature reserve, about 30 kilometres (19 miles) southwest

Notable people

Street in Ribe

Official Honorary Citizens

The following have been declared Honorary Citizens of Ribe: (By year)


The town of Ribe has a long history as a center of learning. The cathedral school of Ribe Katedralskole has its roots in the Latin School of Ribe, dating back to at least 1145, when the bishop officially handed over the chapter's school.[10] The school provided religious education of priests and clergymen up until 1805 and is nowadays a gymnasium (Danish high school). Ribe Katedralskole celebrated its 850th anniversary in 1995, and is the oldest continuously existing school in Scandinavia.


  • Ribe Katedralskole. [8]
  • The State College of Education in Ribe (Teacher Training College) [9], part of The University College of West Jutland [10]
  • Ribe Business College. [11] (Danish)
  • VUC (Adult Education Center). [12]


The following table shows the population of Ribe. Data from before the 18th century are estimates, the rest are taken from the official census.

Year Population
1500 ~5,000
1591 ~4,500
1641 ~3,500
1672 ~2,000
Year Population
1769 1,827
1801 1,994
1850 2,984
1901 4,243
Year Population
1976 7,452
1981 7,646
1986 7,709
1990 7,636
Year Population
1996 8,105
2000 7,984
2001 8,031
2002 8,033
Year Population
2003 8,006
2004 7,990
2006 8,081


Dancake has a factory in Ribe.

Twin cities and towns

Ribe stork

(alphabetic list)


  1. ^ "BEF44: Population 1st January, by urban areas" database from Statistics Denmark
  2. ^ The New Cambridge Medieval History. 1995. Page 205
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ Medieval Sourcebook: Rimbert: Life of Anskar, the Apostle of the North, 801-865:
  7. ^ Celebration site
  8. ^ Tom Buk-Swienty. 2008
  9. ^ C. Michael Hogan. 2009
  10. ^


  • C. Michael Hogan. 2009. ,, ed. N. StrombergEuropean White Stork: Ciconia ciconia
  • The New Cambridge Medieval History. Cambridge University Press, 1995. ISBN 0-521-36292-X.
  • Tom Buk-Swienty. 2008. The Other Half: The Life of Jacob Riis and the World of Immigrant America, 331 pages
  •  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain:  s:Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Ancient See of Ribe in Denmark (Jutland)

External links

  • Official Tourism website
  • Satellite Picture by Google Maps
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