The old Town Hall in Ribe is now used for civil weddings.
The old town hall
Ribe’s old town hall was built over 500 years ago and is the oldest existing town hall in Denmark. The building was used as town hall for almost 300 years. The town hall is situated in the old part of town, not far from the Cathedral. The building is now used for public weddings and a part of the town hall is now a museum.
Oldest town hall in Denmark
In midst the old part of Ribe lays the old town hall. The town hall was built around 1496 and was a private home. The town bought the building in 1709 from the widow Anna Knudsen, and it was used as town hall until the municipality reform January 1st 2007. The town hall is now used for weddings and meetings.
The old building now includes a museum, taking us back to times where executioners with swords and torture instruments as well as watchmen with a mace were part of the normal life in town. Several of the awful artifacts from that time are exhibited in the old town hall, which also features paintings of Ribe’s prefects from 1600 to the present.
Denmark’s most famous stork’s nest is situated on top of the building.
The Court of Ribe
Since Ribe was a busy international trading town, where traders from different towns and countries met, it was important to have clear guidelines. Erik Klipping ratified in 1269 the Court of Ribe, somewhat stricter than the Code of Jutland, which applied outside Ribe.
The Code of Jutland stated that murder should be punished with fines or outlawry, but acc. to the Court of Ribe, murder was to be punished with death by hanging. Not only murder was punished by death, also forgery or wrong measures of goods would be the death of the traders. In this case death by decapitation.
The reason for such small offences to be punished so harsh, was that trading was done in a proper manner in Ribe. This indicates that it was a bigger crime to cheat other traders than to murder someone, since the relatives of a murderer got to keep the inheritance, while the relatives of a thief or gammoner had to give their inheritance to the town.
J. Kinch: Ribe Bys Historie og Beskrivelse I-II, 1869 og 1884.
ind 1, af J. Kinch.
Tradition og Kritik, Festskrift til Svend Ellehøj den 8. september 1984; Den Danske Historiske Forening.
Dansk Center for Byhistorie, Ribe rådhus fra 1709