Established in the first decade of the 8th century and first attested in a document dated 854 AD; Ribe is the oldest town in Denmark (and in Scandinavia).
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 AD. 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 9th 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, Ribe Cathedral, and about 110 houses are under Heritage Protection. Denmark's oldest 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.
There are numerous cultural and environmental features of Ribe. Among the cultural highlights are notable churches and museums. The flora and fauna, while depleted in large part from the man-made development and surrounding agricultural land conversion, retain notable aspects of the natural environment. The Ribe River flows through town and hosts certain elements of riparianhabitat. Certain notable birdlife is found in and near the town; the European White Stork, Ciconia ciconia, is one of the historic inhabitants of the town, choosing to build nests atop chimneys. This bird has steadily declined in population throughout Western Europe due to agricultural land conversion as well as droughts in its wintering range in Africa.
The following list some of the specific town features:
Ribe Cathedral (Ribe Domkirke)  — The bells of Ribe Cathedral  playing the folk song about Queen Dagmar called Dronning Dagmar ligger i Ribe syg ("Queen Dagmar lies in Ribe sick").
Denmark's oldest province museum (Antikvarisk Samling)
The Night Watchman in Ribe . Every evening from 1 May until 15 September you may accompany the night watchman in Ribe on his route through the old town, while he is singing to alert citizens about bedtime approaching.
Kristen Feilberg, born in 1839 at Vester Vedsted near Ribe was an early Danish photographer who, from the 1860s, photographed the native peoples and landscapes of Sumatra, Singapore, and Penang.
J. Bodewalt Lampe, American composer, arranger, performer and band leader of ragtime and syncopated dance music. With the exception of Scott Joplin, Lampe was possibly the most famous composer of ragtime songs of the early 20th century.
Rued Langgaard romantic composer and organist, born 28 July 1893 in Copenhagen — died 10 July 1952 in Ribe.
The town of Ribe has a long history as a center of education, namely the Gymnasium (High School) called Ribe Katedralskole (cathedral school) has its roots in the Latin School of Ribe, dating back to at least 1145. Although confirmed to be older, this is the date for the oldest still existing document that confirms the school’s existence. Ribe Katedralskole is more than 850 years old, and is the oldest continuously existing school in Scandinavia.