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Ribe Coat of Arms
Ribe (Denmark)
Basic data
State : DenmarkDenmark Denmark
Region : Syddanmark
(since 2007) :
Coordinates : 55 ° 20 ′  N , 8 ° 46 ′  E Coordinates: 55 ° 20 ′  N , 8 ° 46 ′  E
Founded: 8th century
Population :
Postal code : 6760
Website: www.ribe.dk
View from the tower of the cathedral to the old town
View from the tower of the cathedral to the old town
Template: Infobox location in Denmark / maintenance / area missing
Template: Infobox location in Denmark / maintenance / height is missing

Ribe ( German : Ripen ) is the oldest city in Denmark and was the administrative seat of Ribe Amt until the Danish municipal reform in 2007 . It has 8,317 inhabitants (as of January 1, 2020) and has belonged to the municipality of Esbjerg Kommune in the Syddanmark region since this municipal reform . Ribe was the most important Danish port on the North Sea through the entire Middle Ages until the early modern period . Today the city has lost its former importance, but thanks to a number of preserved buildings from its heyday still offers numerous sights, above all the Ribe Cathedral .


Ribe is located in southwest Jutland on the North Sea coast, near the mouth of the Ribe Å river . Esbjerg is about 25 kilometers north-west and Kolding is 50 kilometers east . The urban area covers 352 km².


The name goes back to the old Danish word ripa , which stands for the plural of stripes . This name is explained by the ramifications of the trade route that crossed the river at its mouth here.


When the missionary Ansgar von Bremen was looking for a place for the first church to be built in Scandinavia in 860 , his choice fell on Ribe. No coincidence, because even then the city was the most important trading center in the north, due to the good harbor and the navigable river. Ansgar's request to King Horik II is the first mention of the city, but archaeologically it can be traced back to the 8th century. As the finds show, the town was characterized by handicrafts (metal foundry, leather processing, weaving, pottery). It must have had trade connections to Northern Germany and England from an early age , in particular to Stade , Bremen , Cologne , Bruges , Deventer , Groningen and Utrecht . An intact four-leaf clover was excavated in the Ribe cemetery in 2015. The approximately 1000 year old jug was produced in France or Belgium and is the first such find in Denmark.

Although Ribe is said to have been sacked by the Abodrites in 1043 and seven fire disasters destroyed large parts of the city between 1176 and 1402, the city recovered from these setbacks as well as from the plague that raged in Ribe in 1350 and from two severe floods, the Second Marcellus flood of 1362 and the storm surge of 1512. At the end of the 15th century, around 5,000 people lived in Ribe, making it one of the larger cities in Northern Europe (for comparison: Hamburg had around 10,000, Lübeck around 25,000 inhabitants). In 1460 the contract of Ripen was concluded in the city , which should confirm the indivisibility of Schleswig and Holstein, before 1496 the community built the old town hall. Although Ribe continued to do well economically in the 16th century, it gradually lost its importance for the Danish maritime trade. The trade routes had shifted, Copenhagen and other cities rose. The city's population fell steadily.

City plan from 1651

A big fire in 1580, four plague epidemics and a few storm surges - the worst of them the Burchardi flood on 11/12. October 1634 (the water was 6.1  m above sea  level ) - accelerated the decline of the trading town. Another plague epidemic in 1659 killed a third of the city's residents. The billeting of soldiers in the wars of the 17th century robbed the citizens of their prosperity. Around 2000 people were still living in Ribe at that time, a number that hardly changed until the beginning of the 19th century. As an insignificant city it experienced the occupation by Napoleonic troops in 1808 as well as the Three Years War for Schleswig 1848-1851 and the German-Danish War of 1864.

In 1864 Denmark had to give up Schleswig and Holstein. The Danish southern border now ran south of Ribe. The previously Schleswig communities of Farup Sogn ( German : Fardrup ), Hjortlund Sogn , Kalvslund Sogn (Kalslund) , Vester Vedsted Sogn (Wester-Wittstedt) and Seem Sogn were added to Denmark. Ribe was no longer a royal Danish exclave in the Duchy of Schleswig . However, the city lost the economically important surrounding area to the south, which was now across a state and customs border. With the establishment of Esbjerg in 1870, Ribe also lost maritime trade. Even the connection to the railway network five years later could not make up for this loss. The city ​​survived the Second World War without any significant destruction.

The old town hall, which has been used continuously as town hall since 1708, lost its function in 2007, the town became part of the Esbjerg municipality , while since then only civil weddings have taken place in the late medieval building.

Administrative history

Old port of Ribe

The place was an important trading center early on, and the importance grew after the establishment of the bishopric. Ribe probably only got city ​​rights in the 13th century. At that time the city owned some areas outside of its soft landscape, including List on Sylt . Although it formed its own judicial district, the bishops, cathedral chapters and monasteries also had their own jurisdiction. Although located as an enclave in the Duchy of Schleswig south of Kongeå (Königsau) , Ribe has always belonged to the Kingdom of Denmark , which is also illustrated by the three lions in the city's coat of arms.

Most of the Riberhus fiefdom lay north of the Kongeå, but since the 15th century there have also been some enclaves in the Schleswig region, including the area around the city itself, Amrum and Westerland- Föhr , List on Sylt , part of Rømø (Röm ) and the episcopal possessions around Ballum and Møgeltønder (Mögeltondern) until the Reformation . The city itself did not belong to the feudal district, which was converted into the Ribe Office in 1660 .

In 1864, some of the neighboring churches of Schleswig (the southern part of Vilslev Sogn , Farup Sogn, Hjortlund Sogn, Kalvslund Sogn, Seem Sogn and Vester Vedsted Sogn and the village of Obbekier) came from the Fole Sogn (Fohl) to the kingdom, making Ribe with the northern environs. In 1920 the uncomfortable location ended as a border town. Nevertheless, the place remained a small country town, which was mainly in the shadow of the seaport Esbjerg, only 30 kilometers away.

With the administrative reform in 1970, the city became the center of the Ribe municipality, including the neighboring municipalities of Hviding Sogn , Roager Sogn and Spandet Sogn and the neighboring churches mentioned above, and it became the administrative seat of an even larger Ribe office . The centralization of the local and regional administration in 2007 hit Ribe hard: The office became part of the Syddanmark region with its center in Vejle , the city itself became part of the Esbjerg municipality .


Ribe Monastery Church - View to the altar

In addition to trade, the Christian church was strongly present in Ribe. Built by Ansgar wooden church was replaced by a stone building early 12th century, since 1117 Ribe bishopric of the Diocese of Ribe . A cathedral chapter belonging to the cathedral and a cathedral school were donated in 1145. There were also four monasteries in Ribe: Sankt Nikolai ( Benedictine monastery , founded at the end of the 12th century), a Dominican monastery (founded in 1228), a Franciscan monastery (the oldest of its order in Denmark - 1232 - it belonged to the Dacia order ) and the Saint -Johannis-Kloster (first mentioned in 1311). In addition to the cathedral and the monastery churches, there were six other churches in the city, the oldest of which is St. Pederskirche (before 1145). The Reformation brought radical changes . The monasteries were closed, the influence of the church declined. Nevertheless, Ribe remained a spiritual center. The cathedral school still exists today as a Latin school.

Population development

The following overview shows the population development in Ribe over the centuries. Figures prior to the 18th century are estimates, the rest are census results. From 1980 the large commune formed in 1970 is counted uniformly.

year Residents
1500 ~ 5000
1591 ~ 4500
1641 ~ 3500
1672 ~ 2000
year Residents
1769 1827
1801 1994
1850 2984
1901 4243
year Residents
1974 8256
1980 8051
1985 7981
1990 7872
year Residents
1995 8234
2000 8112
2006 8081
2010 8188

Culture and sights

Ribe Cathedral with a walkable town tower (Borgertårnet)

Ribe is known for its well-preserved old town with the Romanesque , later Gothic expanded cathedral, the late Gothic town hall and the Dominican monastery (13th-15th centuries). On the northwestern outskirts is the Riberhus Slotsbanke , the remains of the Riberhus Castle, of which only the moat and ramparts are preserved today.

Nearby, about two kilometers south of Ribe, in Lustrupholm , is the Ribe VikingeCenter open-air museum , where you can experience a lifelike recreation of a village from the Danish Viking Age all year round . Other museums include the Museet Ribes Vikinger , the Ribe Art Museum and the Vadehavscentret . The Hjemsted Oldtidspark is Skærbæk close to Ribe on the dam to Rømø .

Twin cities

sons and daughters of the town

Other personalities


Web links

Commons : Ribe  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. a b Statistics Banks -> Befolkning og valg -> BY1: Folketal January 1st efter byområde, alder og køn (Danish)