Ribe is the oldest extant town in Denmark and in Scandinavia, established in the early eighth century in the Germanic Iron Age.
Established in the first decade of the eighth century and first attested in a document dated 854; Ribe is the oldest extant town in Denmark – and all of Scandinavia. The town celebrated its 1300th anniversary in 2010.
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. Excavations conducted between 2008 and 2012 have also revealed more details of the original church built by Ansgar.
The town has many well-preserved old buildings, like the Viking center in the south of Ribe, and about 110 houses are under Heritage Protection. Denmark’s oldest governmental building The old 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.
- 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.