Ribe seen from Riberhus
Ribe seen from Riberhus
Coat of arms of Ribe
Ribe is located in Denmark
Location in Denmark
Ribe is located in Region of Southern Denmark
Ribe (Region of Southern Denmark)
Coordinates: 55°19′42″N 08°45′44″E / 55.32833°N 8.76222°E / 55.32833; 8.76222
RegionSouthern Denmark (Syddanmark)
 • Urban
7.3 km2 (2.8 sq mi)
 • Urban
 • Urban density1,100/km2 (3,000/sq mi)
 • Gender [1]
3,994 males and 4,371 females
Time zoneUTC+1 (CET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+2 (CEST)
Postal code
DK-6760 Ribe

Ribe (Danish pronunciation: [ˈʁiːpə]) is a town in south-west Jutland, Denmark, with a population of 8,365 (2023).[2][3] 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. It is the oldest town in Denmark.[4]


Street in Ribe

The town was a center of commercial activity in the early 8th century, and this may have originated with royal influence. Coins may have been struck there in 720. Whichever king was involved in the digging of the Kanhave Canal may have been involved in the establishment of Ribe also. Trade contacts were mostly with Frisia and England.[5] Of the over 300 sceatas found in Denmark, 216 come from in or around Ribe, most of them the Wodan type, and these were likely minted in Ribe in the early eighth century.[6] The Ancient Diocese of Ribe was established in 948 with the consecration of Leofdag of Ribe as its first bishop.[7]

Early in the ninth century a 2-meter wide ditch (a demarcation rather than a fortification) was dug around the town, enclosing a 12-hectare area. Later that century the ditch was replaced by a moat, 6 to 7 meters wide. Archeological evidence shows Ribe was "an active and impressive market place" in the eighth and ninth centuries, and again at the end of the eleventh century, but there is little evidence from the period in between; the town may have dwindled or even disappeared.[6]

When archbishop Ansgar set out to christianize Scandinavia, he requested (in about 860) of King Horik II of Denmark that the first Scandinavian church be built in Ribe, which at the time was one of the most important trade cities in Scandinavia. However, the presence in Ribe of a bishop, and thus a cathedral, can only be confirmed from the year 948. Recent archaeological excavations in Ribe, however, have 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.[8] Excavations conducted between 2008 and 2012 have also revealed more details of the original church built by Ansgar.[9]

Construction on the Ribe Cathedral started in 1150, on top of an earlier church, most probably Ansgar's church, built in 860.[10] The Treaty of Ribe was proclaimed in 1460. Being located in a large region of low-lying marshland, Ribe has repeatedly been hit by storm floods, the most devastating being the Burchardi flood of 1634. The marks after this flood can still be seen on the cathedral's walls and is also marked as the top point on a flood pillar in the town.[11][12] Today Ribe, along with much of the Wadden Sea coastline, is protected by dykes.

The Catholic diocese was dissolved in 1536 during the Reformation; it was succeeded by the Diocese of Ribe, governed by the newly established protestant Church of Denmark.

On 1 January 2007, the Municipality of Ribe ceased to exist as it merged with the municipalities of Esbjerg and Bramming, now forming the new municipality of Esbjerg.


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

Notable sites


The old cityhall.

The town of Ribe has a long history as a center of learning. The cathedral school (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.[13] 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.[citation needed]



Ribe railway station in 2023.

Ribe is served by Ribe railway station, located on the Bramming–Tønder railway line.[14] The northern part of the town is also served by the railway halt Ribe Nørremark.[15]

Notable people

Anders Bording, 1645
Rued Langgaard, 1917
HK Nielsen, 2012

The arts

Politicians, clergy, and officials

Science and business


Twin cities and towns

See also


  1. ^ BY1: Population 1. January by urban areas, age and sex The Mobile Statbank from Statistics Denmark
  2. ^ BY3: Population 1. January by urban areas, area and population density The Mobile Statbank from Statistics Denmark
  3. ^ "Statistikbanken". www.statbank.dk.
  4. ^ "Ribe is the oldest town in the Nordic countries".
  5. ^ McKitterick, Rosamond; Reuter, Timothy, eds. (1995). The New Cambridge Medieval History. Cambridge UP. p. 205. ISBN 9780521362924.
  6. ^ a b Feveile, Claus (2008). "Series X and Coin Circulation in Ribe". In Abramson, Tony (ed.). Two Decades of Discovery. Studies in Early Medieval Coinage: Two Decades of Discovery. Vol. 1. Boydell Press. pp. 53–68. ISBN 9781843833710.
  7. ^ Taylor, Arthur (1914). "Ancient See of Ribe in Denmark (Jutland)". The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 16. New York: The Encyclopedia Press – via New Advent.
  8. ^ Lisbeth Quass (24 July 2014). "Danskere var kristne længe før Harald Blåtand´". Berlingske (in Danish).
  9. ^ "Danskere var kristne længe før Harald Blåtand". Kristeligt Dagblad (in Danish). 23 July 2014. Retrieved 26 July 2014.
  10. ^ Robinson, Charles H. (1921). Rimbert: Life of Anskar, the Apostle of the North, 801–865, translated from the Vita Anskarii by Bishop Rimbert his fellow missionary and successor. London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge. Retrieved 26 September 2022.
  11. ^ "De 5 største stormfloder i Vadehavet". Naturstyrelsen (Denmark's Ministry of Environment). Retrieved 18 October 2023.
  12. ^ "Historiske stormfloder i Nordsøen og Danmark". Danish Meteorological Institute. 3 July 2018. Retrieved 18 October 2023.
  13. ^ "Ribe Katedralskole" (in Danish). The Danish National Archives. Retrieved 12 July 2015.
  14. ^ "Ribe Station" (in Danish). Arriva. Retrieved 23 January 2024.
  15. ^ "Ribe Nørremark Station" (in Danish). Arriva. Retrieved 23 January 2024.
  16. ^ Vers, Per (13 January 2016). "En brobygger-bromance". Per Vers (in Danish). Retrieved 21 September 2021.
  17. ^ Bain, Robert Nisbet (1911). "Valdemar II." . Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 27 (11th ed.). pp. 841–842.
  18. ^ "Tausen, Hans" . Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 26 (11th ed.). 1911.