Ribe is a town in southwestern Jutland and was previously formally part of the South Jutland enclaves that belonged to the kingdom. The city has 8,317 inhabitants (2020), belongs to Esbjerg Municipality and is located in the Region of Southern Denmark. Ribe is Denmark's oldest city. It is located in a flat marsh area not far from the North Sea and has historically been characterized by floods. Ribe Å meanders through Ribe along several branches, further across the marsh and through Kammerslusen into the Wadden Sea.

Ribe was founded as a trading post during the Viking Age in the early 700s. Ansgar built the first church here in the ninth century, and in 948 it became the episcopal see. The city grew and became large and important both for the church and as a trade center, and was in the Middle Ages among the country's largest cities. When Ribe Å became impassable for ships at the end of the 17th century, however, it declined sharply, and with Esbjerg's founding in 1868, the city's industry was also challenged.

The city has several educational institutions. Ribe has preserved its old urban environment with Ribe Cathedral as its majestic landmark. Many thousands of tourists from all over the world make a pilgrimage to the city every year to experience the special atmosphere of the market town. Ribe has several museums, including two that deal with the Viking Age.


The name "Ribe" can be traced back to the Old Danish ripa, which means stripes or strips, as the trading post originally consisted of at least 70 narrow plots of land. They were highest in the middle with ditches in between.

The inhabitants of Ribe are called ripensers.

The town's history dates back to between 704 and 710, when a trading post was built on the site, and is considered Denmark's oldest town. The location was good for trade, as there was access to the sea via Ribe Å, and it was possible to travel over land to both north and south. Cereals such as rye, oats and wheat have been found in the town, which dates to the 8th century, and it is believed that it has been grown locally, indicating that agriculture has been practiced on the site.

In 825, coins are minted in the city. When Ansgar came to Denmark to Christianize the population, he got a plot in the city, and is allowed to build a church here in 854-857, which is the first time the city is mentioned in written sources. In 948 it became the episcopal see as the first in the country.

The Middle Ages
In 1127, King Niels' son Magnus the Strong married Richiza of Poland in Ribe. Ten years later, Erik Emune is killed at Urnehoved, and later buried in Ribe Cathedral. Riberhus was begun in the early 12th century and the current Ribe Cathedral was begun in the late 12th century and consecrated in 1250.

The Dominican order founded a black brother monastery in Ribe in 1228. In 1259, King Christoffer I died in Ribe and was buried in the cathedral.

On 26 June 1269, Ribe City Court was issued at the Dane court in Nyborg by King Erik V. Klipping. The city also gained township rights in the 13th century, and the city grew considerably. It became one of the country's largest cities, and profited particularly well from the export of oxen. When the kings of the country visited the area, they often lived at the castle Riberhus.

In 1496, a stone house was built on Von Støckens Plads in the city, which today is one of Denmark's oldest town halls. In 1709 the property was purchased by the town for town hall.

The Renaissance
The big fire
On September 3, 1580, the city was hit by a fatal fire in which 213 houses in 11 streets burned. The fire occurred at Kristen Borg in Stenbogade. According to tradition, this evening extra hay had been brought into the yard behind the house, which was located around the back of Torvet / Stenbogade and across towards Peder Dovns Slippe.

Despite a judgment on 21 February 1581, in which Borg was acquitted of suspicion, as the hay is believed to be self-ignited, the suspicion did not disappear. Borg had to seek the king's protection before he became free from suspicion.

Despite the fact that many of the ecclesiastical institutions in the city disappeared after the Reformation in the 16th century, the city still managed to maintain great trade and prosperity. During the 17th century, however, it became difficult to keep Ribe Å navigable. Fanø and Mandø were therefore used as a charging station for the city. During the Second Great Man Drowning on 11-12. October 1634 the water in Ribe rose to 6.1 meters above daily waters. In the cathedral, a mark is still seen, where the water was 1.7 m above the floor.

In 1641, one of the country's most famous witch-burnings took place, when the tailor's daughter Maren Splids was convicted as a witch. During the Torstensson feud in 1643-44, Riberhus is destroyed.

After autocracy was introduced in 1660, the city's foreign trade declined in favor of Copenhagen and Aalborg.

Recent times
In the 18th century, the city's heyday was over. Trade had stagnated violently, nor could shipping contribute much to the city's economy. In return, crafts thrived, and the town became famous for lace and canvas making.

Ribe historically belonged to the South Jutland enclaves, ie. that the city was located in Southern Jutland, but was administratively governed by the Danish Chancellery in Copenhagen. Ribe was thus a royal enclave in Southern Jutland in line with a number of other enclaves along the west coast of Schleswig.

In the middle of the 19th century, the city got its first industrial enterprises. In 1885, the city got a railway when the Bramming-Tønder line was inaugurated, and two years later the railway was extended so that it went to the German border, so there was a connection to Hamburg. The construction of Esbjerg in 1868 meant a lot to the city, as Esbjerg was a modern industrial city with direct access to the sea, and the industry of the new city quickly overtook Ribes. However, there were still factories in the city, including Crome & Goldschmidt's Textile Factory, Sct. Nicolaj Gade which had about 120 employees at the end of the 19th century.


In the middle of the 20th century, Ribe Jernstøberi had 520 employees, but a large part of the town was employed in the service sector, as Ribe was the center of both the county and the diocese.

Until the structural reform in 2007, Ribe was the administrative center for Ribe Municipality, Ribe Diocese and Ribe County. After this, the city became part of Esbjerg Municipality.

Infrastructure and transport
To the northwest, Primary Route 24 goes towards Esbjerg, and to the northeast, Primary Route 32 goes to Kolding. To the south, Primary Route 11 goes towards barrels

The ring road is a bypass west of the city, which is part of route 11. It is proposed to establish a bypass east of the city. To the east, primary route 24 goes towards Gram.

A large part of the city's old street network is preserved in the center of the city.

Ribe Station is a stop on the Bramming-Tønder line. In 1985, Ribe Nørremark Station opened in the northern part of the city, where the train also stops.

The city has two water towers; Dagmarsgade Water Tower was built in 1887 and operated until 2011 as well as Tangevej Water Tower which was built in 0907 and which closed in 1990.

Among the city's old streets are Badstuegade, Bispegade, Fiskergade, Hundegade, Præstegade, Puggaardsgade, Sct. Nicolaj Gade, Skibbroen, Stenbogade and Sønderportsgade as well as Torvet.

One of the city's large manufacturing companies is the Mineralvandsfabrikken Frem, which was established in 1949. In 2016, it was taken over by Bryggeriet Fuglsang.

The record studio Hansen Studio is located in Ribe. It is run by the Danish producer Jacob Hansen, and is mainly used for recording rock and heavy metal bands. Among the bands that have recorded albums here are i.a. Dizzy Mizz Lizzy and Volbeat.

The city's retail trade is mainly centered around Torvet and the pedestrian section Overdammen, Mellemdammen and Nederdammen.

Ribe has a number of hotels, including Ribe Hotel and Hotel Dagmar. The latter is part of Danske Hoteller A / S. The Danhostel chain runs a youth hostel in the city.

The city enjoys its close location to the German border, and is therefore visited by many Germans.