Ribe (Danish pronunciation: [ˈʁiːpə]; German: Ripen) is a Danish town in south-west Jutland, with a population of 8,315 (1 January 2019).[1] It is the seat of the Diocese of Ribe covering southwestern Jutland.

Ribe seen from Riberhus

Coat of arms
Location in Denmark
Coordinates: 55°19′42″N 08°45′44″E
RegionSouthern Denmark (Syddanmark)
Time zoneUTC+1 (CET)
  Summer (DST)UTC+2 (CEST)
Postal code

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 eighth century in the Germanic Iron Age.


Established in the first decade of the eighth 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 ninth 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 eighth century, founding of Ribe.
  • Ribe flourished during the early medieval period as an important trading centre, or emporium, 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:

  • Churches
    • Ribe Cathedral (Ribe Domkirke) — The bells of Ribe Cathedral 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 [10] (Museet Ribes Vikinger)
    • Ribe Art Museum [11] (Ribe Kunstmuseum)
    • Ribe Viking Centre [12] (Ribe Vikingecenter)
    • Denmark's oldest province museum (Antikvarisk Samling)
  • The Night Watchman in Ribe . 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 [13] (Vadehavscentret)
  • Mandø Mill (Mandø Mølle)
  • The Mandø House (Mandøhuset)
  • Mandø Island nature reserve, about 30 kilometres (19 miles) southwest

Notable people




Public thinking


Official Honorary Citizens

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

  • (1911) Stiftsfysikus - J.J. Kiær
  • (1934) Town Archivist - C.N. Termansen
  • (1946) Editor - C. Willemoes
  • (2005) Chairman of the Ny Carlsbergfondet - H.E. Nørregård-Nielsen


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.[15] 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.
  • The State College of Education in Ribe (Teacher Training College) , part of The University College of West Jutland
  • Ribe Business College. (in Danish)
  • VUC (Adult Education Center).


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

Year Population
Year Population
Year Population
Year Population
Year Population


Dancake has a factory in Ribe.

Twin cities and towns

(alphabetic list)

See also


  1. BY3: Population 1st January, by urban areas The Mobile Statbank from Statistics Denmark
  2. The New Cambridge Medieval History. 1995. Page 205
  3. "Ribes 1300 års jubilæum". ribe1300.dk (in Danish). Esbjerg Municipality. Retrieved 12 July 2015.
  4. Lisbeth Quass (24 July 2014). "Danskere var kristne længe før Harald Blåtand´". Berlingske (in Danish).
  5. "Danskere var kristne længe før Harald Blåtand". Kristeligt Dagblad (in Danish). 23 July 2014. Retrieved 26 July 2014.
  6. Medieval Sourcebook: Rimbert: Life of Anskar, the Apostle of the North, 801-865: http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/basis/anskar.asp
  7. Celebration site
  8. Tom Buk-Swienty. 2008
  9. C. Michael Hogan. 2009
  10. Ribe Viking Museum retrieved 23 March 2018
  11. Ribe Art Museum retrieved 23 March 2018
  12. Ribe Vikinge Center retrieved 23 March 2018
  13. Wadden Sea Centre retrieved 23 March 2018
  14. 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 26, Tausen, Hans retrieved 31 March 2018
  15. "Ribe Katedralskole" (in Danish). The Danish National Archives. Retrieved 12 July 2015.


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