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Aarhus waterfront
Aarhus waterfront
Aerial view of Aarhus City Centre & South Harbour
Aerial view of Aarhus City Centre & South Harbour
Aarhus is located in Denmark
Location in Denmark
Coordinates: 56°09′N 10°13′E / 56.150°N 10.217°E / 56.150; 10.217
RegionCentral Denmark (Midtjylland)
 • Urban91 km2 (35 sq mi)
 • Metro9,997 km2 (3,860 sq mi)
 • Municipal468 km2 (181 sq mi)
Elevation0 m (0 ft)
Population (2014)[1][3]
 • Urban259,754
 • Urban density2,854/km2 (7,390/sq mi)
 • Metro1,245,046 (17 municipalities in East Jutland metropolitan area)
 • Metro density124/km2 (320/sq mi)
 • Municipal323,893[2]
 • Municipal density681/km2 (1,760/sq mi)
Time zoneCentral Europe Time (UTC+1)
Postal code8000, 8200, 8210
Area code(s)(+45) 8
WebsiteOfficial website
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This article is about the city in Denmark. For the convention on public participation, see Aarhus Convention. For the meteorite, see Aarhus (meteorite).
Aarhus waterfront
Aarhus waterfront
Aerial view of Aarhus City Centre & South Harbour
Aerial view of Aarhus City Centre & South Harbour
Aarhus is located in Denmark
Location in Denmark
Coordinates: 56°09′N 10°13′E / 56.150°N 10.217°E / 56.150; 10.217
RegionCentral Denmark (Midtjylland)
 • Urban91 km2 (35 sq mi)
 • Metro9,997 km2 (3,860 sq mi)
 • Municipal468 km2 (181 sq mi)
Elevation0 m (0 ft)
Population (2014)[1][3]
 • Urban259,754
 • Urban density2,854/km2 (7,390/sq mi)
 • Metro1,245,046 (17 municipalities in East Jutland metropolitan area)
 • Metro density124/km2 (320/sq mi)
 • Municipal323,893[2]
 • Municipal density681/km2 (1,760/sq mi)
Time zoneCentral Europe Time (UTC+1)
Postal code8000, 8200, 8210
Area code(s)(+45) 8
WebsiteOfficial website

Aarhus or Århus (Danish pronunciation: [ˈɒːhuːˀs] ( )) is the second-largest city in Denmark and the country's main port. It is located on the east coast of the Jutland peninsula in the geographical centre of Denmark. By road it lies 187 kilometres (116 mi) northwest of Copenhagen, 39 kilometres (24 mi) south of Randers and 143 kilometres (89 mi) north of Odense. Aarhus is the seat of Aarhus Municipality. The city proper has 323,893 inhabitants, with the inner urban area housing 259,754 inhabitants (1 January 2014).[2][3] The larger urban zone counts a population of 845.971[4] and with a population of 1.2 million people in the East Jutland metropolitan area, Aarhus claims the unofficial title of "Capital of Jutland".

Aarhus is one of the oldest towns in Denmark, with settlements dated to the late 8th century and a bishopric from at least 948. By the end of the Middle Ages, it had also grown to become one of the largest towns in the country. Trading and seafaring continued to flourish until the 1570s, when growth stagnated. Grain exports initiated a new period of prosperity in the mid-18th century. Factories of various types were established and, from 1810, the harbour was expanded. Regular steamship links with Copenhagen began in 1830, and Jutland's first railway was established in 1862 from Aarhus to Randers. While Aarhus became an important railway hub, the harbour provided a sound basis for seafaring and commerce, initiating significant industrial growth in the city in the second half of the 19th century, soon making it Denmark's largest provincial city. With the establishment of Aarhus University in 1928, the city continued to grow, becoming the most important business centre in Jutland by the 1950s. During World War II, the Gestapo had their Danish headquarters in the city and kept their archives there until they were destroyed during a raid in October 1944. Today Aarhus is Denmark's second most important centre of research and education, and the electronics and metallurgy sectors have also continued to expand.

Aarhus Cathedral is the longest cathedral in Denmark with a total length of 93 m (305 ft). The Church of our Lady (Vor Frue Kirke) was originally built in 1060, making it the oldest stone church in Scandinavia. The City Hall, designed by Arne Jacobsen and Erik Møller, was completed in 1941 in a modern functionalist style. Aarhus Theatre, the largest provincial theatre in Denmark opposite the cathedral on Bispetorvet, was built by Hack Kampmann in the Art Nouveau style and completed in 1916. Musikhuset Aarhus (concert hall) and Det Jyske Musikkonservatorium (Royal Academy of Music, Aarhus/Aalborg) are also of note, as are its museums including the open-air museum Den Gamle By, the art museum ARoS, the Moesgård Museum and the women's museum Kvindemuseet.

Sports clubs such as Aarhus Gymnastikforening (AGF), Aarhus 1900, Aarhus Fremad and Idrætsklubben Skovbakken are based in Aarhus, and it is home to the basketball team Bakken Bears, two American football clubs, Aarhus Frogs and Århus Tigers, and the Division 1-ranked ice hockey team IK Århus.

Aarhus Airport, with only a few scheduled flights each day, is located 40 km (25 mi) north-east of Aarhus in Tirstrup but the city is also served by the large international Billund Airport in central Jutland. Aarhus is served by commuter rail services connecting the city with neighbouring towns; the main station is Aarhus Central Station, located in the city centre. The ferry company Mols-Linien connects Aarhus with Zealand.


The city was mentioned for the first time in 948 by Adam of Bremen who reported that Reginbrand, bishop of the church of Aarhus, participated in a church meeting in the city of Ingelheim in Germany.[5]

In Valdemar's Census Book (1231) the city was called Arus, and in Icelandic it was known as Aros, later written as Aars.[6] It is a compound of the two words ār, genitive of ā ("river", Modern Danish å), and ōss ("mouth", in Modern Icelandic this word is still used for "river delta").[7] The name originates from the city's location around the mouth of the stream Aarhus Å (Aarhus River).[8][9] The spelling "Aarhus" is first found in 1406 and gradually became the norm in the 17th century.[6]

Aarhus/Århus spelling[edit]

With the Danish spelling reform of 1948, "Aa" was changed to "Å". Some Danish cities resisted the new spelling of their names, notably Aalborg and Aabenraa. Contrarily, Århus city council explicitly embraced the new spelling, as it was thought to enhance an image of progressiveness, even though the change was unpopular with some of the city's inhabitants.[10] In 2010, a majority of the city council voted for a name change from "Århus" back to "Aarhus", and the renaming came into effect on January 1, 2011. Mayor at that time Nicolai Wammen argued that the "Aa" spelling would strengthen the city's international profile, help private enterprise and make it easier to access Aarhus on the Internet. The "Aarhus" spelling has, however, always had some use in non-Scandinavian languages. There is considerable opposition to the "Aa" spelling and according to a May 2011 poll 59.8% of the city's inhabitants preferred the "Å" spelling.[11]

Although the name on many signs and other physical media still reads "Århus", official informational websites have effectively altered occurrences of "Århus" to "Aarhus". Furthermore, certain geographically affiliated names have been updated to reflect the name of the city. An example is the Aarhus River for which the Danish name has been altered from "Århus Å" to "Aarhus Å".[8] However, in Danish it is still correct to write geographical names with the letter Å, while local councils since 1984 have been allowed to use the Aa spelling as an alternative. When a local authority so decides, most newspapers and state institutions will re-adopt the pre-1948 Aa spelling and the Å spelling will in practice become second-place. However, the official authorities are the Danish Placename Commission[12] and the Danish Language Committee, publisher of the Danish Orthographic Dictionary, which retain "Århus" as the main name, providing "Aarhus" as a new, second option, in brackets.[13]


Viking Age and before[edit]

The Viking Age town, enclosed by defence ramparts and palisade (North is left).
Reconstruction of an early church at Moesgaard Museum. This is not the early Holy Trinity Church.

Aarhus was founded in the early Viking Age and is one of the oldest cities in Denmark, along with Ribe and Hedeby.[14]

Recent archaeological finds under the Aros settlement's old defences indicate the site was a town as early as the last quarter of the 8th century, considerably earlier than had been generally supposed.[15][16] This was discovered after an archaeological dig in 2003, which unearthed half buried longhouses, firepits, glass pearls and a road; all dated to the late 700s.[17] Archaeologists have conducted several excavations in the inner city since the 1960ies and some of them have revealed wells, streets and more houses, used both as homes and workshops for the Vikings. In the houses and adjoining archaeological layers, everyday utensils like combs, jewellery and basic multi-purpose tools from approximately the year 900, has been found.[18] Some of them are on display at the Viking Museum.[19]

The centre of Aarhus was once a pagan burial site until Aarhus' first church, Holy Trinity Church, a timber structure, was built upon it during the reign of Frode, King of Jutland, around 900.[20] In the 900s an earth rampart for the defence of the early city was also constructed, encircling the settlement, much like the defence structures found at ring fortresses elsewhere. The rampart was reinforced later on by Harald Bluetooth, and together with the town's geographical placement, this suggests that Aros was an important trade and military center. There is strong indications of a former royal residence from the Viking Age in Viby, a few kilometres south of the Aarhus city center.[21]

The bishopric of Aarhus dates back to at least 948, when written sources mentions the bishop of Reginbrand attending the synod of Ingelheim in Germany.[22] The bishopric and the town's geographical location propelled a prosperous growth and development of the early medieval town.[23] The finding of six runestones in and around Aarhus indicates the city had some significance around year 1000, as only wealthy nobles traditionally used them.[24] The era was also turbulent and violent though, with several naval attacks on the city, like Harald Hardradas assault around 1050, when the Holy Trinity Church was burned to the ground.[15][25]

Middle Ages – 18th century[edit]

The Aarhus city seal from 1421 and 1608

From the end of the 12th century, the streets of the old town were developed at the initiative of Peder Vognsen, who was bishop of Aarhus from 1192 until his death in 1204. Vognsen also began work on the cathedral which was completed in 1300. As a bishopric, Aarhus became a prosperous religious centre in the Middle Ages. The Church initiated a lot of buildings in and around the city early on and the international contacts secured good trading opportunities, with Germany and Norway for example.[23] The oldest existing charter granting it market town privileges dates from 1441, although the town no doubt enjoyed similar privileges even before it became a bishopric. Despite the status of Aarhus, farming produce from the surrounding area was exported unlawfully from neighbouring ports. It was only in the 16th century that the city's merchants finally gained control. The defensive earth ramparts were dismantled around 1477 and the town grew steadily; the population rising to about 4,000 by 1620.[26][27]

Aarhus seen from north, 1768, engraving

In 1657 a consumption tax (similar to octroi) was imposed on goods, such as food, moving from rural areas to markets in larger cities, effectively imposing a toll barrier between rural and urban areas. It became necessary to close the city off to prevent smuggling and enforce the tax and so wooden walls were erected around the city and gates were constructed on the major thoroughfares, Mejlgade and Studsgade, along with booths for payment. Up to the 19th century the gates were occasionally moved outwards as the city expanded with Mejlgade receiving its last gate in 1812. The tax had the effect of funnelling most traffic through just a few streets and these became favored among merchants, that over time erected merchants quarters at the ends of these streets. The former location of Vesterport is still reflected in the name of the street today.[28]

In the 17th century, although Aarhus was still a large city with many rich merchants, its growth came to a standstill as a result of the Swedish wars and competition from Copenhagen.[27] It was only in the middle of the 18th century that it once again began to prosper with trading conditions improving as a result of agriculture in the surrounding area. Grain in particular proved to be a remunerative export. Factories were established in the town and expansion of the harbour began around 1810.[29]

19th century[edit]

Denmark supported France during the Napoleonic wars (1803–1815) and was subsequently excluded from international trade for some years and the loss of Norway in 1814 further caused a large drop in grain exports. Combined these factors resulted in an economic recession that temporarily stunted the growth of the city. However, from the 1830s, economic conditions started to improve and trade rebounded. Factories with steam-driven machinery gradually became more productive as the industrial revolution took hold and regular steamship links with Copenhagen began in 1830.

In 1838 electoral laws were reformed and the first elections for the 15 seats in the city council were held. The rules were initially very strict allowing only the wealthiest citizens to run and in 1844 only 174 citizens qualified out of a total population of more than 7000.[30] The newly formed city council, mainly composed of wealthy merchants and industrialists, quickly looked to improve the harbour which up to this point had been situated along the mouth of the Aarhus River. Larger ships and growing freight volumes made a river harbour increasingly impractical so in 1840 construction of the new industrial harbour on the coast, north of the river, begun. Over the next 15 years this became the largest industrial harbour outside Copenhagen. The new harbour was from the onset controlled by the city council which it remains to this day.[31]

Prussian soldiers herding cattle by Aarhus cathedral, 1864

During the First Schleswig War, on 21 June 1849, Aarhus was occupied by German troops from Prussia, Sachsen and Bayern for a little over a month before the Germans withdrew again on 24 July, when a peace agreement was reached. The city itself was spared any fighting but north of the city, in Vejlby, a cavalry skirmish known as "Rytterfægtningen" took place which stopped the German advance up through Jutland.[32] The war and occupation left a notable impact on the city as many streets, particularly in Frederiksbjerg, are named after officers commanding the Danish forces at the time.

During the Second Schleswig War, after the Danish defeat at Dannevirke, the city was once again occupied, this time for 7 months from 28 April 1864 to 20 November, by primarily Prussian troops. Eduard Vogel von Falckenstein was named Governor of Jutland on 30 April and established his headquarters in Aarhus, before later moving it to Randers, until the war ended and the occupation was lifted.[33][34]

In 1851 the consumption tax, imposed by cities on rural goods, was abolished and the walls end earthworks that had been surrounding the city were removed. The easier access for trade boosted the economy and population growth.[31] Jutland's first railway was established in 1862 from Aarhus to Randers. While Aarhus became an important railway hub, the harbour provided a sound basis for seafaring and commerce, initiating significant industrial growth in the city in the second half of the 19th century. It expanded rapidly, soon becoming Denmark's largest provincial city. The population increased drastically from some 15,000 in 1870 to around 52,000 in 1901, and in an effort to compensate the City Council bought up and annexed large land areas and developed quarters like Trøjborg, Frederiksbjerg and Marselisborg.[35]

Drawing of the Ceres Brewery in Aarhus, 1889

Despite wars and occupation the city continued to grow and throughout the later half of the century many new industries were established, many of which would come to leave prominent and iconic marks on the inner city. The Ceres Brewery was established in 1856 and served as Aarhus' local brewery for more than 150 years, gradually expanding into what became known as Ceres-grunden (lit.: the Ceres-grounds).[36][37][38] In 1896 local farmers and businessmen joined forces to create the interest company of KFK (Korn- og Foderstof Kompagniet), focussing on grain and feedstuffs. KFK soon established departments all over the country, while the headquarters remained at the Aarhus harbour, where the large grain silos still dominate today.[39] A few years later in 1898, the cooperative company of JAF (Jydsk Andels-Foderstofforretning) was founded, at a constituting meeting in Aarhus and it grew quickly to become the second biggest feedstuff company in Denmark. Operating within the same markets, JAF was an arch rival throughout KFKs history.[40][41]

Some of the largest enterprises in Aarhus in the 19th century, were Frichs Maskinfabrik (engines), Jern- og Metalstøberi (foundry) and Mønsted Margarinefabrik (margarine) and there was a considerable export of butter.[29][42]

20th century[edit]

During the 20th century Aarhus became an industrial city and commercial port. The harbour underwent a series of expansions and culturally, the city marketed itself as the "Capital of Jutland" expanding many of its cultural institutions like the national library, universities such as Aarhus University, which was established in 1928, the Aarhus Theatre and hospitals. Aarhus continued to grow and by the middle of the century it was still the most important business centre in Jutland. For east and central Jutland, it was also the top financial, educational and cultural centre. While industry continued to grow, the service sector started to develop too. Important new factories included the dockyard of Flydedokken and the oil mill of Århus Oliefabrik.

Second world war[edit]

Danish resistance celebrations in Aarhus, May 1945

On April 9, 1940 German troops crossed the Danish border and Aarhus was occupied later that day. The German headquarters was established in the former University of Aarhus building and later in 1943 it also became the headquarters for Gestapo in Jutland.

The bombed Gestapo headquarters on 31 October 1944

In the later years of the war Aarhus gradually became an important transport hub for seaborne supplies to Norway as it became too dangerous to ship supplies through northern German ports. On July 4, 1944 an explosion rocked central Aarhus as a freight barge in the process of being loaded with ammunition exploded. The explosion could be heard in Femmøller and Trige and fragments were scattered across the city up to a kilometer away. 33 people died, mostly workers on the harbour, and some 250 people were wounded.[43]

In 1944 the resistance movement in Jutland encouraged the Allies to conduct an air raid against the German headquarters in Aarhus to destroy files and obstruct operations.[44] On 31 October the Aarhus Air Raid saw a "daring, low-level precision bombing attack" on the Gestapo headquarters in Aarhus by 25 Mosquitoes from the Number 140 Wing of the RAF Second Tactical Air Force. Resistance leader Pastor Harald Sandbaek was being held captive there at the time. The bombs dropped in the centre of the former University of Aarhus building, killing an estimated 150-200 Gestapo members and some 30 Danes while destroying German files on the Danish resistance.[45][46]

The first Schalburgtage operations took place in Aarhus in 1944 with most occurring between August 1944 and until the end of the occupation in May 1945. The largest occurred on the night of 22 February 1945 when a series of explosions in central Aarhus destroyed a number of buildings and damaged others, including Aarhus Teater, and killed 7 people. Other such operations included two attempts at destroying newly built Aarhus City Hall which had been completed in 1941.

The surrender of German forces officially came into effect on 5 May 1945 but in Aarhus fighting broke out shortly before midday between resistance fighters and a small German force that refused surrender. The fighting claimed the lives of 7 resistance fighters, 10 civilians and an unknown number of German soldiers but by the end of the day order was restored and three days later on 8 May British forces entered the city.[47]

Post-war period[edit]

In the mid-1970s, the population was decreasing but by the 1980s, it was once again on the rise. The service sector prospered, overtaking trade, industry and crafts as the leading sector of employment. Aarhus became Denmark's second major center of research and education, although the electronics and metallurgy sectors also continued to expand. Workers gradually began commuting to the city from most of east and central Jutland and the region became more interconnected throughout the years.

In 1971 the tram system that had operated since 1884 was closed down and the city instead opted to focus on and expand bus services run by the municipal bus company Aarhus Sporveje.[48] With the trams gone new possibilities opened up on the former tram routes and by 1972 the rails and asphalt had been removed from Strøget, in favor of new tiling, and the first major pedestrian-only walkway in the city was inaugurated. Over time it was further expanded to include Ryesgade and evolved into the busiest commercial street in the country by the turn of the century.[49]

From 1980 onwards the city experienced constant growth especially in the student population that had tripled between 1965 and 1977.[50] The 80s and early 90s became a period of creativity for the city and saw future international brands such as Gaffa being founded in 1983 and the KaosPilot school in 1991. The period also became a renaissance for music in Aarhus with many popular bands such as TV2, Gnags, Thomas Helmig, Bamses Venner and Shit & Chanel making their debut at the time.[51][52]

21st century[edit]

Accelerating growth since the early 2000s brought the city to roughly 260.000 inhabitants by 2014. The rapid growth is expected to continue until at least 2030 when Aarhus municipality has set an official target for 375.000 inhabitants, 220.000 jobs, 200.000 homes and 60.000 students[53] the majority of which will reside within city limits.

The growth in population is accompanied by a number of large-scale construction projects in and around Aarhus. The heart of the city is experiencing a significant change of both the skyline and the land-use composition, as many old industrial sites here are being redeveloped. Chief among them, starting in 2007, former docklands are being converted to a new mixed residential, commercial and recreational area dubbed "Aarhus Ø" to accommodate 7,000 new residents and 12,000 jobs.[54] When Royal Unibrew closed the Ceres breweries in central Aarhus in 2008, a large site opened up, which is now being developed into "CeresByen", home to 1,100 people, schools and businesses[55] with construction initiated in 2012. The former DSB train repair facilities at the square of Frederiks Plads close to the railway station, has been demolished and is now under development into a small business district with high-rise buildings scheduled for completion in 2017.[56][57] The main bus terminal is planned to be moved to the central station by 2018 and the current site will be made into a new residential district.[58][59]

Construction of the first light rail system in the city commenced in 2013, with the first increment to be finished in 2017.[60] The light rail system is planned to eventually tie many of the suburbs closer to central Aarhus and the next phase will connect a large planned suburb for 25.000 new residents west of Lisbjerg.[61][62]


Aerial view of Aarhus from the north

Aathus is located on the Bay of Aarhus in eastern Jutland, 187 kilometres (116 mi) northwest of Copenhagen, 39.5 kilometres (24.5 mi) south of Randers, 143 kilometres (89 mi) north of Odense, and 119 kilometres (74 mi) southeast of Aalborg by road.[63] Protected by the peninsulas of Mols and Helgenæs to the north and east, the bay has a depth of 10 m (33 ft) quite close to the shore, providing a natural harbour. The early settlement was placed on the northern shores of a fjord, that stretched far inland.[27] The fjord no longer exists, having been replaced by the Aarhus River and Brabrand Lake a few kilometres west of the city. The land around Aarhus was once covered by forests, remains of which exist as Marselisborg Forest to the south[64] and Riis Skov to the north.[65] Several larger lakes extend west from the Skanderborg railway junction and rise to heights exceeding 152 metres (499 ft) at Himmelbjerget.[66]

From Egådalen. A broad and flat valley, marking the northern limits of Aarhus

The hilly area around Aarhus consists of a moranial plateau from the last ice age, broken by a complex system of tunnel valleys. The most prominent valleys of this network, are the Aarhus Valley in the south, stretching inland east-west with the Aarhus River, Brabrand Lake and Tåstrup Sø (Tåstrup Lake) and the Egå Valley to the north, with the stream of Egåen, Kasted Mose (Kasted Bog) and Geding Sø (Geding Lake). Much of the two valleys has been drained and subsequently farmed, but recently some of the drainage was removed for environmental reasons. The valley system also include the Lyngbygård Å (Lyngbygård River) in the west and valleys to the south of the city, following erosion channels from the pre-quaternary. By contrast, the Aarhus River Valley and the Giber River Valley are late glacial meltwater valleys. The coastal cliffs along the Bay of Aarhus consist of shallow tertiary clay from the Eocene and Oligocene (57 to 24 million years ago).[67][68][69][70]

The harbour, initially to the north of the town, remained on the north bank of the river until 1800. In the 15th century, the town spread to the south side of the river while the north bank was converted into a port area. In the 19th century, the harbour was extended out into the sea with piers stretching out from the coast. Two docks were created in the 19th century at Nordhavnen and in the 20th century Sydhavnen was created to the south.[71] Aarhus Habour has seen large expansions in recent years and is currently a construction site for a broad array of projects. The harbour was and still is predominantly industrial, although recreational and cultural uses have gradually increased. The new city district of Aarhus Docklands is being constructed next to the old marina (Aarhus Lystbådehavn) in the north harbour. There are plans for several residential and business buildings on old and newly constructed wharfs.[72]


Aarhus is in the humid continental climate zone (Köppen: Dfb) [73] and the weather is influenced by low-pressure systems from the Atlantic which result in unstable conditions throughout the year. Temperature varies a great deal across the seasons with a mild spring in May and April, warmer summer months from June to August, frequently rainy and windy fall months in October and September and cooler winter months, often with snow and frost, from December to March.

Western winds from the Atlantic and North Sea dominate across the country resulting in more precipitation in the west. In addition Jutland rises sufficiently in the center to lift air to higher, colder altitudes further attributing to increased precipitation. Combined these factors make east and south Jutland comparatively wetter than other parts of the country.[74] Average temperature over the year is 8.43 °C with February being the coldest month (0.1 °C) and August the warmest (15.9 °C). Temperatures in the sea can reach 17 to 22 degrees in June to August but it's not uncommon for beaches to register 25 degrees locally.[75][76]

The geography in the area affect the local climate of the city with the Aarhus Bay imposing a temperate effect on the low-laying valley floor where central Aarhus is located. The Brabrand Lake and Årslev Engsø to the west further contributes to this effect and as a result the valley has a very mild, temperate climate. The sandy ground on the valley floor dries up quickly after winter and warms faster in the summer than the surrounding hills of moist-retaining boulder clay. One effect of these conditions is that crops and plants often bloom 1–2 weeks earlier in the valley than on the hillsides, such as Risskov to the north.[77]

Because of the northern latitude, the number of daylight hours varies considerably between summer and winter. On the summer solstice, the sun rises at 04:26 and sets at 21:58, providing 17 hours 32 minutes of daylight. On the winter solstice, it rises at 08:37 and sets at 15:39 with 7 hours and 1 minute of daylight. The difference in the length of days and nights between the summer and winter solstices is 10 hours and 31 minutes.[78]

The city center experiences the same climactic effects as other larger cities with higher wind speeds, more fog, less precipitation and higher temperatures than the surrounding, open land.

Climate data for East Jutland (1961–1990)
Average high °C (°F)2.4
Daily mean °C (°F)0.2
Average low °C (°F)−2.7
Precipitation mm (inches)60
Avg. rainy days (≥ 1mm)11810999101011111312123
Mean monthly sunshine hours41681121642082121941901308659431,506
Source: Danmarks Meteorologiske Institut

Politics and administration[edit]

Map of Aarhus municipality and the urban area

The city council consists of 31 members elected for 4-year terms. Anybody eligible to vote and residing in Aarhus municipality can run for a seat on the city council. After elections have determined the members of the city council, the council elects a mayor, 2 deputy mayors and 5 councilmen.[79] The Mayor of Aarhus until 2015 is Jacob Bundsgaard of the Social Democrats,[80] who took over from Nicolai Wammen in August 2011. Wammen wanted to focus on the upcoming election for Parliament.[81]

The city is divided into six minor administrative bodies which together constitute the magistrate led by the mayor and the five elected councilmen as political and administrative directors. It is the only Danish city with a magistrate structure.[82] The six magistrate departments of the city are the "Mayor's Magistrate", "Social and Employment Magistrate", "Technology and Environment Magistrate", "Health and Social Magistrate", "Culture and Service Magistrate" and "Children and Youth Magistrate" and handle all the day-to-day operations of the city.[83]

Aarhus is the seat of Aarhus Municipality. Until the 2007 Danish Municipal Reform, which replaced the Danish counties with five regions, it was also the seat of Aarhus County, which has now been disbanded in favour of Central Denmark Region (Region Midtjylland) which has its seat located in Viborg.[84] The city is divided into several districts and suburbs with their own postal code (Postdistrikter). Districts (boroughs) inside the second city beltway Ring 2 include Åbyhøj, Aarhus C, Aarhus Docklands (aka Aarhus Ø), Aarhus N, Aarhus V, Højbjerg and Viby. Neighbourhoods and suburbs include Åby, Åbyhøj, Brabrand, Egå, Frederiksbjerg, Gellerup, Hasle, Hasselager, Højbjerg, Holme, Kolt, Marselisborg, Midtbyen, Risskov, Rosenhøj, Skåde, Skæring, Skejby, Slet, Stavtrup, Tilst, Tranbjerg, Trøjborg, Vejlby, Vesterbro and Viby.[63]

Environmental planning[edit]

Main article: Energy in Denmark

Aarhus has increasingly been investing in environmental planning. The City Council has identified a number of targets for the coming years within green areas, the aquatic environment and energy efficiency. The targets are designed to provide the guidelines for green growth in the city.[85][86] In accordance with national policy, Aarhus aims to be CO2 neutral by 2030, and it is also aiming to become independent of fossil fuels for heating.[87] This political goal has materialized in a Climate Heating Plan, designed to increase multiple-source heat production and the waste and district heating service AffaldVarme Aarhus, is building a combined heat and power plant running on biofuels.[88]

Aarhus has been heavily involved with several large-scale water treatment projects on many levels in the last two decades and more will follow in the future.[89][90][91] The initiatives are part of a larger and broader action plan for Aarhus Municipality, that aims for a coherent and holistic administration of the water cycle. This should protect against or clean up previous pollutions and sustain green growth and self-sufficiency. One of the main tasks is to deal with the large quantities of excessive nutrients in and around Aarhus, primarily nitrogen and phosphorus. A second task is to tackle the increasing levels of precipitation brought about by current and future climate change, and a third important task is to secure fresh, clean and safe drinking water for the future.[92]

Recent afforestation in True Skov, one of the New Forests of Aarhus

Aarhus Municipality and the city council have attacked the challenges from different angles in a constructive collaboration with private partners. Many new underground rainwater basins have been built across the city in recent years. The two lakes of Årslev Engsø and Egå Engsø were created in 2003 and 2006 respectively. Large expanses of forest have been planted in vulnerable land areas in order to secure drinking water and avoid groundwater pollution from pesticides and other sources.[93] Since 1988, the New Forests of Aarhus have been developed to assist in binding CO2, securing drinking water, protecting the groundwater from pollution, dealing with excessive nutrients, increase the biodiversity of nature, create an attractive countryside for the citizens, providing easy access to nature and offering outdoor activities for the Aarhus citizens. The afforestation plans were realized as a local project in collaboration with private land owners, under a larger national agenda, and there are new afforestation objectives to double the forest cover in Aarhus Municipality, before the year 2030.[94]


Largest groups of foreign residents
NationalityPopulation (2014)
 United Kingdom935

[citation needed]

People in Aarhus

In 1672, Aarhus had a total population of 3,474 people.[95] In 1787 the population had only increased marginally to 4,052 and in 1801 actually declined slightly to 4,012 people. The population began to grow after 1830, with 6,765 people recorded in 1834, 7,864 in 1845, and 11,009 people in 1860.[95] By 1880 it had more than doubled to 24,831, and again by 1901 to 51,814. By 1935 it had more than doubled again, growing to 113,865 people.[95] In 1950, 153, 546 people were recorded, growing to 199,427 in 1970, although in the 1980s the population declined somewhat, reaching a low of 181,585 in 1981, but it climbed again, and by 1996 it had reached 213,826 people.[95] 228,547 people were recorded living in Aarhus in 2004, and today more than 300,000 people live within the city limits of Aarhus, while an additional 500,000 live in the surrounding local area of the East Jutland region. Aarhus is also a major part of the larger East Jutland metropolitan area with 1,200,000 inhabitants, which makes East Jutland the second most-populated area in Denmark, after the Copenhagen area.[96]

The population of Aarhus is both younger and better-educated than the national average.[96] This is often attributed to the high concentration of educational institutions and facilities in the area. However, in January 2014 it was reported that those in the 45-65 age group have been moving into the central area, attracted by its cafés and cultural life.[97]

Being a comparatively large Danish city, Aarhus has received a fair share of immigrants from various other cultures and in the municipality, 14.8% of the population were immigrants in 2012, making it the region with the highest percentage of immigrants in Denmark, outside the Copenhagen area.[98] During the 1990s, the Aarhus Municipality experienced significant immigration from Turkey in particular[99] and in recent years, it has seen a marked growth of the overall immigrant community, from 27,783 people in 1999 to 40,431 in 2008. Most of the new citizens to Aarhus city, have established themselves in Brabrand, Hasle and Viby, where the percentage of inhabitants with foreign origins, has risen by 66% since the year 2000. This has resulted in several 'especially vulnerable residential areas' (aka ghettos), with Gellerup as the most notable neighbourhood. In Brabrand and Gellerup, two thirds of the population now have a non-Danish ethnic background.[100] The international cultures present in the community are an obvious and visible part of the city's daily life and contribute many cultural flavours hitherto uncommon for the Nordic countries, including Bazar Vest, a market with shopkeepers predominantly of foreign descent.[101]


Silos from 1927 known as the "Five Sisters" on the harbour's quayside. The JAF company who erected the buildings, changed name to DLG in 1964.

The region is a major producer of agricultural products, with many large farms in the outlying districts.[102] Arla Foods, one of the largest dairy groups in Europe, has its headquarters in Aarhus, while the Swedish-Danish vegetable oils and fats company, AarhusKarlshamn (AAK), also has a large processing plant in the area.[102] The Ceres Brewery was a large employer in Aarhus for more than 150 years, until its recent closure in 2008, when the parent company moved the production to Odense and Faxe. Now the old factory grounds in the city centre, are being redeveloped with a large educational campus, apartments and other minor projects. This new quarter is now known as Ceresbyen (lit.: The Ceres City).[103]

The oil and fat industry has strong roots in Aarhus. In 1874 Otto Mønsted created the Danish Preserved Butter Company, with a butter export to England, China and Africa for example. The company reaped quite a few prizes for its products, including a silver medal at the world's fair of 1878 in Paris. In 1883, Mønsted initiated the Aarhus Butterine Company and established the first Danish margarine factory. The margarine business grew dramatically and inspired international endeavours, in particular in England and Russia. In Denmark, Otto Mønsted launched the company and product of OMA (abbreviation of 'Otto Mønsted Aarhus') in 1910, which helped spread the use of margarine to all of Denmark.[42] From the 1890s and subsequent decades, the number of margarine factories in the country rose to 141 by the late 1920s, producing a total of 84,000 tons annually. The industry was an important employer, with factory employees in Aarhus increasing from 100 in 1896 to 1000 in 1931. In the 1890ies, the enterprise, Aarhus Oil Factory Ltd. (Aarhus Oliefabrik), experimented with using copra as raw material for oil, based on the work of engineer Malthe C. Holst. Hydrogenation was introduced to Aarhus oil in 1911, the first company in Scandinavia to do so. Aarhus Oil became one of the largest Danish oil companies internationally by the mid- 1930s, and also had business interests and factories in Morocco and Syria.[104]

Aarhus is home to the headquarters of Dansk Supermarked, Denmark's largest retailer, and to Jysk, a world-wide retailer specializing in household goods, bedding, furniture and interior design.[7] Other large employers include Krifa (a trades union organisation) and 5R, a telemarketing company.[105] Metallurgy and electronics are also important sectors and the city is home to the headquarters of leading retailing companies.[7]

Port of Aarhus[edit]

Aarhus harbour is one of the largest industrial harbours in Northern Europe. It has the largest container terminal in Denmark and accommodates the largest container vessels in the world.[106] The facilities handle some 9.5 million tonnes of cargo a year (2012). Grain is the principal export, while feedstuffs, stone, cement and coal are among the chief imports.[107] The Port of Aarhus is a municipal self-governing port, with independent finances.[106]

Developments in the Docklands

The habour has seen large expansions in recent years and is currently a very active construction site for a broad array of projects. The harbour was and still is predominantly industrial, although recreational and cultural uses have gradually increased there recently. The new city district of Aarhus Docklands is being constructed next to the old marina of Aarhus Lystbådehavn in the north harbour, and is planned to comprise several residential and business buildings on both old and newly constructed wharfs. The old wharf that was formerly home to a ship building yard (nicknamed Dokken), now houses an array of businesses and cultural projects and organizations in the vacated buildings. In the south, the large recreational marina of Marselisborg Yacht Harbour complete with restaurants, hotels, cafés, etc. was also constructed some years ago.[108] Industrial activities are by no means diminishing in Aarhus Harbour which has expanded recently with large new wharfs, cranes and a new railway line, primarily serving the shipping company of Maersk.[106]

In recent years, the container terminal which still handles over 50% of Denmark's container traffic, has faced increasing competition from Port of Hamburg. In July 2014, Johan Ugla, head of APM Terminals Cargo Service which runs the terminal, announced plans for creating increased efficiency in its operations in order to attract traffic from Danish companies who have been shipping containers to Hamburg by road.[109]


Bruuns Galleri, a large shopping centre in Aarhus

The ARoS Art Museum, the Old Town Museum and Tivoli Friheden are all among Denmark's top tourist attractions.[110] With a combined total of almost 1.4 million visitors these attractions represent the driving force behind tourism in East Jutland but other venues such as Naturhistorisk Museum, Moesgård Museum and Kvindemuseet are also popular. The city's extensive shopping facilities are also said to be a major attraction for tourists,[111] as are festivals, especially NorthSide and SPOT.[112] Many visitors arrive on cruise ships: in 2012, 18 vessels visited the port with over 38,000 passengers. With expanded facilities, it is hoped there will be as many as 85,000 cruise tourists by 2015.[113]

In recent years, there has been a significant expansion of tourist facilities, culminating in the opening of the 240-room Comwell Hotel in July 2014, which will increase the number of hotel rooms in the city by 25%. Some estimates put the number of visitors spending at least one night as high as 750,000 a year, most of them Danes from other regions, the remainder coming mainly from Norway, Sweden, northern Germany and the United Kingdom. Overall, they spend about DKK 3 billion ($540 million) in the city each year.[114] The primary motivation for tourists choosing Aarhus as a destination is experiencing the city and culture, family and couples vacation or as a part of a roundtrip in Denmark. The average stay is little more than 3 days on average.[114]

There are more than 30 tourist information spots across the city, some of them attended by staffs, while other spots are on-line touch screens in the public space. The official tourist information in Aarhus is organized under VisitAaarhus, a corporate fund initiated in 1994 by Aarhus Municipality and the two local commercial interest organizations of Erhverv Århus and Århus City Forening.[115][116][117]

Hotels, restaurants and bars[edit]

Hotel Royal
Comwell Hotel
Top: Hotel Royal from 1838. Bottom: Comwell Hotel from 2014.

Aarhus offers accommodation to travellers on all levels, from cheap to expensive and from private small-scale Bed & Breakfast to luxurious apartment-suites on large international hotels. A couple of large and modern hotels have been built in the last few years, such as the 228-room Scandic Aarhus City hotel near the City Hall from 2012 or the 240-room Comwell Hotel, situated in the 25 storey Aarhus City Tower from 2014.[118][119]

Several hotels in Aarhus are notable. The old Hotel Royal next to the cathedral, with 102 rooms is situated in a building dated to 1838, with neo-baroque façade, and houses the Royal Scandinavian Casino on the bottom floor. The 234-room Radisson Blu Scandinavia Hotel Århus is one of the most modern hotels in the city and Denmark, built in 1995.[120] Both the Mayor Hotel, recently opened in a former hotel building from the 1930ies,[121][122] and the Best Western Ritz Hotel from 1932, are located at the central station.[123] Also of note, is the 160-room Hotel Helnan Marselis from 1967, at the Marselisborg Forests. The hotel includes fitness and conference facilities, a restaurant and café, as most of the larger hotels in the city, but also an indoor swimming pool. Despite the recent redesigning of the premises, Restaurant Helnan is still considered among the best restaurants in Aarhus.[124] Ferdinand has become an award winning combination of a small high-end hotel, restaurant and lounge bar at the riverside in the city center, since the opening in 2008.[125][126][127] Budgetminded travellers can find accommodation at places like the Danhostel Aarhus, Århus City Sleep-in or Cabinn Aarhus Hotel.[128][129] Danhostel Aarhus - situated in the forest of Riis Skov -, is located partly in an old historic dance pavilion from 1869, but with modern facilities.[130] The Cabinn hotel is under severe reconstruction until 2015, but will be open all along. The rebuilding is designed by C.F. Møller Architects.[131][132]

Restaurants are numerous in Aarhus and the city presents quality cooking of a large variety and from many places in the world.[133][134][135] There are several appraised high end gourmet restaurants serving an international cuisine, like Fredrikshøj, Restaurant Varna, Miró, Nordisk Spisehus, Det Glade Vanvid, La Pyramide, Restaurant ET or Dauphine, all considered among the best in Denmark, together with a broad selection of similar cuisines of a high quality at places like Klassisk Fisk, Pihlkjær, Substans, 65 klassisk, Ferdinand, Mellemrum, Canblau, ART Restaurant, Mefisto or L'estragon.[136][137] Many restaurants in Aarhus are closed for a number of weeks in the summertime, but still plenty of kitchens are serving.

Aarhus is packed with cafés and bars of all kinds and for all economic capacities.[135] Most cafés offers some kind of dining and some includes a restaurant like Café Casablanca, Café Carlton, Café Cross or Gyngen for example. Several cafés, bars and taverns cater for night revellers, especially from Thursday til Sunday morning. The riverside has plenty of options, but the night can also be spent or celebrated at many other spots around the city, including the modern Train dance club and music venue, Thorups Kælder, an underground bar in a cellar founded by Cisternian monks in the 13th century, Café Under Masken, next to the Royal Hotel, with iron sculptures designed by local artist Hans Krull, the relaxed Ris Ras Filliongongong in Mejlgade, with an award winning beer selection and offering waterpipes, the wine and book café of Løve's in Nørregade and Sherlock Holmes, a British-style pub with live music close to the City Hall, to name a few established and well known places. The brew pub of Sct. Clemens with A Hereford Beefstouw restaurant is also of interest.[138][139][140]

Research parks[edit]

Aarhus University Department of Computer Science at IT City Katrinebjerg.

Over the past ten years, Aarhus has been one of Denmark's most rapidly developing centres of activity, covering areas such as information technology, energy, media, life sciences, food, architecture and design.[141][142] Enterprises in the Information and communications technology (ICT) sphere are progressing well, especially in collaboration with the city's research institutes. In 2007 the three largest research parks of Forskerpark Aarhus (Science Park Aarhus), Forskerpark Skejby (Science Park - Skejby) and IT-Huset Katrinebjerg, merged to form INCUBA Science Park. Both Forskerpark Skejby, which works in the field of biomedical research, and the Katrinebjerg department - focussing on ICT - has since been expanded and in 2014 the new department of INCUBA Navitas opened on the Aarhus Docklands.[143]

One of the major research companies is Systematic A/S, with some 450 employees working in the public sector, healthcare and defence.[144] The IT City Katrinebjerg, fosters collaboration between research, education and industry through the university branches of Alexandra Institutet, Department of Computer Science and Department of Aesthetics and Communication.[145]

In the clean energy sector, Aarhus is home to leading participants including Vestas, AVK, Amplex and Kamstrup.[146] The new Navitas Park at the docklands, is a new information and innovation park bringing together players in the energy, environment and building sectors.[141][147] The centre is sponsored by Aarhus University School of Engineering, Aarhus School of Marine and Technical Engineering (AAMS) and INCUBA.[148][149]



Aarhus Cathedral (1300) with its green patinated copper roofs. Large sections of the roof were replaced recently and have not yet developed verdigris.

Aarhus is divided into four deaneries, under the much larger diocese of Aarhus (Aarhus Stift) and the city presents many churches.[150] A great deal are of modern design,[151] like the monumental Ravnsbjerg Church from 1976,[152][153] but the historically most important are the Aarhus Cathedral and the Church of Our Lady in the inner city. Brick stones are used extensively and has been an essential construction material in Denmark, for almost a millennia.[154][155][156] For churches, copper has traditionally been - and still is - a popular material for architectural elements in Denmark, especially roof constructions. Copper develops a green layer of verdigris, when patinated by the elements and this naturally produces the characteristic green roofs and spires that dots many skylines of Danish towns and cities, including Aarhus.

Aarhus Cathedral (Århus Domkirke) is the longest cathedral in Denmark with a total length of 93 m (305 ft).[157] It was originally built as a Romanesque basilica in the 13th century but was rebuilt and enlarged as a Gothic cathedral in the late 15th and early 16th centuries. It has a notable altarpiece sculpted by Bernt Notke from Lübeck in 1479, cited as one of the finest in the country.[158] The cathedral also has more frescos than any other church in Denmark, all painted between 1470 and 1520.[159]

The Church of our Lady (Vor Frue Kirke) includes a crypt church discovered and restored in the 1950s, which was built in 1060, making it the oldest stone church in Scandinavia.[160] Originally known as St Nicholas' Church (Skt. Nicolai Kirke), it was the first cathedral in Aarhus. The church's stonework was used to build a Dominican priory in 1240.[161] Today's church occupies the south wing of the priory.[162] The building exhibits a combination of Romanesque and Gothic architecture. The tower, with its characteristic onion-shaped top with a lantern and pointed spire was completed in the 17th century.[163]

City hall, palaces and theatres[edit]

Marselisborg Palace
Aarhus Teater (1916)

The City Hall (Aarhus Rådhus), designed by Arne Jacobsen and Erik Møller, was completed in 1941 in a modern Functionalist style. Initially, their plans covered the three main sections but there was no tower. As a result of criticism, the architects added the iconic 60 m (200 ft) tower without a spire.[164] Built of concrete, the building is clad in marble outside and inside with bronze and wood.[165]

Marselisborg Palace (Marselisborg Slot) is the summer retreat of the Danish royal family. Located to the south of the city centre close to the bay, the estate was donated by the city of Aarhus to Prince Christian and Princess Alexandrine as a wedding present in 1898. The gift included the palace, completed in 1902, which was designed by the prolific Aarhus architect, Hack Kampmann.[166] With its palacial white façade and external decorations, it combines the Neoclassical and Art Nouveau styles.[167] Although the palace is not open to the public, the extensive park designed in the English style by landscape architect L. Christian Diedrichsen may be visited when the royal couple are not in residence.[166]

Aarhus Theatre, opposite the cathedral on Bispetorvet, was built by Hack Kampmann in the Art Nouveau style and completed in 1916. It is the largest provincial theatre in Denmark.[168][169] The green and gold decorations in the main auditorium, which include a wreath of swans on the ceiling, are the work of Karl Hansen Reistrup.[168] Over the years additional facilities have been added including the Scala, with seating for 285 people, and the flexible Studio and Stiklingen rooms which can seat between 80 and 100. The theatre is well known throughout Denmark for its restaurant Café Hack (named after the architect) which has been the venue for a popular Sunday morning radio programme for a number of years.[170] Musikhuset (The Concert Hall of Aarhus) and Det Jyske Musikkonservatorium (The Jutlandic music conservatory) are also of note.

Historic buildings[edit]

Custom House (Toldkammeret, completed 1898)

The inner city has the oldest preserved houses of Aarhus, especially the streets of Skolegade and Mejlgade in the Latin Quarter. Thestrup's House, at No. 19 Mejlgade, is the oldest of all, dating back to 1625. The low, half-timbered buildings at No. 15 to 17 Skolegade, are from 1642. There are also some fine Neoclassical buildings on the street, while Bagge Lihme's House at No. 6 Mejlegade, completed in 1811, is one of the finest examples of the Empire period in the city.[27] Attached to the cathedral, but situated in Skolegade, the cathedral school of Aarhus Katedralskole, was founded in 1195.[171] The school ranks as the 44th oldest school in the world, but only small parts of the present buildings are from the twelfth century. An ancient crypt church from 1060, beneath (and predating) the Church of Our Lady, was discovered and restored in the 1950s.[172]

The Aarhus Custom House (Toldkammeret) on the harbour front, completed in 1898, is said to be Hack Kampmann's finest work. It was used by the tax authorities until the mid-1990s. Tækker Group, who purchased the building in 2004, have fully renovated the building in collaboration with the cultural authorities, taking care to maintain the Kampmann style. After being used in recent years by the architecture school and as a student hostel, the building currently houses a Jensen's Bøfhus restaurant.[173][174]

The early buildings of Aarhus University, especially the main building completed in 1932, have gained an international reputation for their contribution to functionalist architecture. Now included in the Danish Culture Canon, the yellow-brick buildings were designed by Kay Fisker, Povl Stegmann and, above all, by C.F. Møller, giving Danish architecture a new impetus.[175][176] The architectural style combining international modernism with Danish traditions, provided a basis for Danish architecture until the mid-1950s.[177]


Den Gamle By (the Old Town Museum)

Den Gamle By (The Old Town), officially Danmarks Købstadmuseum (Denmark's Market Town Museum), is the only open-air museum in the country which presents life in market towns from the 17th century to the present. It consists of some 75 houses from various parts of Denmark which have been brought together to provide a picture of a traditional market town. The interiors have also been restored with original furnishings. One of the latest additions is Møntmestergården (the Mintmaster's Mansion) from 1683 which originally stood in Copenhagen.[178] Currently the museum is being extended with an area devoted to town life in the 1920s and 1930s.[179] Aarhus City Museum (Århus By Museum) recently relocated to Den Gamle By operates as an archive for historical information and presents changing exhibits on the history of the city.[180]

ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum.
Kvindemuseet in the old town hall.

ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum, the city's main art museum, has a history going back to 1858. Now housed in a building designed by Schmidt, Hammer & Lassen in 1997, it is one of the largest art museums in Scandinavia with a collection covering Danish art from the 18th century to the present day as well as paintings and sculptures by international artists.[181] The new cube-shaped building with floor space of 17,700 m2 (191,000 sq ft) is centred around a curved museum street and can be accessed via a spiral staircase at its midpoint.[182]

The Moesgård Museum, which has occupied several sites since it was established in 1861, is a local museum and institution specializing in archaeology and ethnography in collaboration with the Culture and Society department of Aarhus University. Permanent exhibits on Denmark's prehistory, include weapon sacrifices from Illerup Ådal and the Grauballe Man, the world's best preserved bog body, about 2,300 years old.[183] The museum is currently closed during relocation from Moesgård Manor to new and larger premises nearby, where it will reopen in October 2014.

Kvindemuseet, the Women's Museum, contains collections presenting the lives and works of women in Danish cultural history. Starting as a grassroots movement in the 1980s, the museum has developed outreach programmes with other museums in Denmark and abroad. Established in 1984, it is located in the former city hall (built in 1857) on Domkirkeplads, now fully renovated.[184]

Other speciality museums in Aarhus include: Besættelsesmuseet (Occupation Museum), located in the same house as The Women's Museum and presenting exhibits illustrating the German occupation of the city during the Second World War;[185] The University Park and campus of Aarhus University, presents three important museums: Naturhistorisk Museum (Natural History Museum), with over 5,000 species of animals, many in their natural surroundings;[186] Steno Museum, a museum of the history of science and medicine together with a planetarium;[187] and the little known Antikmuseet (Museum of Antiquity), with a fine collection of Greek, Etruscan and Roman art.[27]

Kunsthal Aarhus (Aarhus Art Hall) in the city centre is a large exhibition venue, renovated and extended by C.F. Møller Architects from the 1990s. It hosts solo and group exhibitions of contemporary art including special presentations for children. In addition to painting, it covers sculpture, photography, installations, performance art, film and video.[188]


Cherry trees in Mindeparken

There are an unusually high number of parks in in Aarhus, 134 of them, covering a total area of around 550 ha (1,400 acres).[189] The Botanical Gardens (Botanisk Have) are located in the centre of the city just west of Den Gamle By. The largest and oldest of the city's parks, it originated in 1873 when it was used to cultivate fruit trees and other useful plants for the local inhabitants. It still has a significant collection of trees and bushes as well as a section devoted to Danish plants from different habitats and regions.[190] Its recently renovated tropical and subtropical greenhouses, initially designed by C.F. Møller, exhibit exotic plants from throughout the world.[191]

The Memorial Park (Mindeparken) on the coast near Marselisborg Palace, is popular with locals for outings with family and friends, often with a picnic box.[192] The park dates from 1925, when it was opened by King Christian X and now contains a monument designed by Axel Poulsen and Axel Ekberg, commemorating Danes who fell in the First World War.[193] The park offers a panoramic view across the bay of Aarhus, with Skødshoved and Mols beyond.[192]

In the same area, Marselisborg Deer Park (Marselisborg Dyrehave), established in 1932, now extends over 22 ha (54 acres) of woodland pastures, after several extensions. It was originally intended to hold sheep to keep the grass short, but in the end sika deer and roe deer were chosen instead.[194]

Friheden is an amusement park, similar to Copenhagen's Tivoli Gardens. Established in 1904, the pleasure park was extended with additional attractions after the Second World War. Located to the south of the city centre on Skovbrynet in the Marselisborg Forests at the far end of Stadion Allé, the park also hosts concerts, and has a revue theatre and several restaurants.[195] It is open to visitors in the summer months.[196]

The undulating University Park was designed in the 1930s together with the university's first buildings.[197] Marienlystparken in Herredsvang, one of the largest parks in the city, has both wooded areas and open grasslands as well as a golf course and a football field.[198] There are also several small but notable parks in the city, like City Hall Park (Rådhusparken), established together with the city hall in 1941.[199]


The concert halls of Musikhuset.

Selected as European Capital of Culture in 2017, Aarhus prides itself on offering a combination of innovation, media and communication together with architecture and design, and has a wide variety of cultural institutions.[200] The city of Aarhus has strong musical traditions, both classical and modern, with educational and performance institutions such as the concert halls of Musikhuset, the opera of Den Jyske Opera (sometimes referred to as the Danish National Opera), Aarhus Symfoniorkester (Aarhus Symphony Orchestra) and Det Jyske Musikkonservatorium (Royal Academy of Music, Aarhus/Aalborg). Musikhuset presents the largest concert hall in Scandinavia, with seating for 3,000 people. Other major music venues include VoxHall, rebuilt in 1999, the recently opened Atlas,[201] and Godsbanen, a former railway station.[202]

Since the 1970s, the city has seen major developments on the rock scene, with the arrival of many acclaimed bands such as Under Byen, Gnags, TV-2, Michael Learns to Rock, Nephew, Carpark North, Spleen United, VETO, Hatesphere and Illdisposed in addition to popular individual performers like Thomas Helmig, Anne Linnet and Medina. Since 2010 the music production centre of PROMUS (Produktionscentret for Rytmisk Musik), has supported the rock scene in the city along with the publicly funded ROSA (Dansk Rock Samråd), who promotes Danish rock music in general.[203] Each year, the city hosts several music festivals and concerts, including NorthSide Festival attracting international artists and young spectators,[204][205] the eight-day Aarhus International Jazz Festival[206] and the wide-ranging Aarhus Festuge, the largest multicultural festival in Scandinavia always based on a special theme.[207][208]

The acting scene in Aarhus is diverse, with many groups and venues including Aarhus Teater, Svalegangen, EntréScenen, Katapult, Gruppe 38, Godsbanen, Helsingør Teater, Det Andet Teater[209] and Teater Refleksion as well as several dance venues like Bora Bora and Granhøj Dans.[210][211] The city hosts a biannual international theatre festival, International Living Theatre, with the next event taking place in May 2015.[212] The former goods station of Aarhus Godsbanegård has recently been thoroughly renovated and expanded with a new building. Now known as Godsbanen, it functions as a cultural center, and offers numerous workshops for the artist community and local citizens.[202]

Aarhus presents some important library institutions and they take an active role in the cultural life of the city.[213] The State and University Library (Statsbiblioteket), which has the status of a national library, plays a key role in coordinating the online development of Danish libraries including digital access to newspapers and media.[214] The public libraries offer extensive traditional and digital services and can be used by citizens 24 hours a day, whether at the central library in Mølleparken or via the many branch libraries throughout the city. Most of the libraries also work as community centres.[215][216] [217]

The city actively promotes its visible gay and lesbian community.[218] The Aarhus Festuge festival usually includes several exhibits, concerts or events specifically designed for these communities. There are several clubs, discos and cafes aimed at gays and lesbians, including Danish D-lite (sports), G bar (disco) or Gaia Vandreklub (hiking club).


The new headquarters of Institute for Sports, established in 2008 under Aarhus University.[219]

There is an active sports life in Aarhus on all levels, with many accessible facilities for both amateurs and professionals. Aarhus has several major and historic sports clubs like Aarhus 1900,[220] Aarhus Gymnastikforening (AGF),[221] Aarhus Fremad[222] and Idrætsklubben Skovbakken,[223] Aarhus Sejlklub and a plethora of smaller clubs.[224] There are several soccer grounds in the city, four indoor swimming pools[225] and several sports stadiums.[226]

From the stadium at Atletion

Vejlby Risskov Idrætscenter, the largest sports centre in Aarhus (and eastern Jutland), located in Vejlby, comprise a large stadium and training grounds with facilities for a wide variety of sports, such as tennis, association football, athletics, basket, swimming, handball, gymnastics and badminton.[227] Running second, is the sports centre of Atletion in the south of the city on the outskirts of the Marselisborg Forests. The Atletion centre comprises athletics, the football NRGi Park and the indoor sports NRGi Arena. Several sport clubs have their home ground in Atletion, including AGF Århus, the Danish superliga football team, and Aarhus GF handball team, the 1960 European Cup runner-up. Close to Atletion there is a racecourse for horse racing and an outdoor cycling arena.[228][229]

Watersports like sailing, kayaking and rowing, has been a central part of Aarhus' sports culture for many years, based both at Brabrand Lake and the Aarhus Bay, at the two harbour marinas and at the coast of Marselisborg Forests. The area is ideally suited for watersports, with prevailing winds from the west, the east facing coast and limited tides and currents. Watersports have brought a multitude of olympic, European and world championship medals to the city, like gold medals at the Europe World Championships in 2013 and bronze at the 2004 Olympics - Europe-class.[230][231] In 1999 the 5 sailing clubs in Aarhus founded Sailing Aarhus, a non-profit interest organization and the largest sailing organization in Denmark, in order to attract major sporting events to the city. In 2014 the A.P. Møller Foundation donated DKK 36 million to the construction of Aarhus Internationale Sejlsportscenter on Aarhus Docklands, which will become the national watersports stadium.[232][233]

The local basketball team Bakken Bears has been one of the most successful teams in Denmark for the past decade.[234] There are also two American football clubs in the city: Aarhus Frogs and Århus Tigers. At Christiansbjerg there is an iceskating hall and Aarhus has a Division 1 ranked ice hockey team, IK Århus. Golf can be played at a number of golf courses to the south, west and north of the city. The martial arts scene is very diverse and offers training in many of the popular sports like karate, taekwondo, kick boxing and wrestling, but also in some less well-known disciplines such as krav maga, capoeira and ninjutsu.[235][236][237][238][239] The Laurentius Guild, established in 2004, is a small historical European martial arts group whose members are all from Aarhus University, mainly those specializing in medieval archaeology.[240][241]

Aarhus has hosted many sporting events including the 2010 European Women's Handball Championship, the 2014 European Men's Handball Championship, the 2013 Men`s European Volleyball Championships, the 2005 European Table Tennis Championships, the Denmark Open in badminton, the UCI Women's Road Cycling World Cup, the 2006 World Orienteering Championships, the 2006 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships and the GF World Cup (women's handball).[242] Aarhus is on average host to 1-2 international sailing competitions every year and have recently hosted the ISAF Youth Sailing World Championships in 2008, the 505 world championship in 2010, the International A-class catamaran World Championships in 2011 and the 49er and 49erFX European Championships in 2013. In 2018 the city will host the ISAF World Championship, the world championship for the 12 olympic sailing disciplines and an important qualifier for the 2020 olympics.[243]

In recent decades, many free and public sports facilities have sprung up across the city scape, such as street football, basketball, climbing walls, skateboarding and beach volley. Several natural sites also offer green exercise, with exercise equipment installed along the paths and tracks reserved for mountainbiking. The newly reconstructed area of Skjoldhøjkilen is a prime example.[244]


Aarhus is a centre for education in the Jutland region. It draws students from a large area, especially from the western and southern parts of the peninsula. The relatively large influx of young people and students creates a natural base for cultural activities.[245] Aarhus has the greatest concentration of students in Denmark, fully 12% of those living there attending short, medium or long courses of study. In addition to around 25 institutions of higher education, several research forums have evolved to assist in the transfer of expertise from education to business.[246]

On 1 January 2012 Aarhus University (AU) was the largest university in Denmark by the number of students enlisted.[247] It is ranked among the top 100 universities in the world by several of the most influential and respected rankings. The university has approximately 41,500 Bachelor and Master students enlisted and further about 1,500 Ph.D. students.[247] It is possible to receive higher education in many areas, from engineering and dentistry to language and theology.[248] Aarhus Technical College is one of the largest business academies in Denmark, and teaches undergraduate study programmes in English, including vocational education and training (VET), continuing vocational training (CVT), and human resource development.[249] The Danish School of Media and Journalism (DMJX) is the oldest and largest of the colleges which teach journalism education in Denmark, offering courses in journalism since 1946. In 2014 it had approximately 1700 students. In 1974 it became an independent institution conducting research and teaching at the undergraduate level. In 2004, the school collaborated with Aarhus University to establish the Centre for University studies in Journalism, offering master’s courses in journalism, and granting degrees through the AU.[250]

The Royal Academy of Music in Aarhus (Det Jyske Musikkonservatorium) is a conservatoire which was established under the auspices of the Danish Ministry of Culture in 1927. In 2010 it merged with the Royal Academy of Music in Aalborg, which was founded in 1930.[251] Under the patronage of His Royal Highness Crown Prince Frederik, it offers graduate level studies in areas such as music teaching, and solo and professional musicianship. VIA University College, established in January 2008, is one of eight new regional organizations offering bachelor courses of all kinds throughout the Central Denmark Region. It offers over 50 higher education in Danish or sometimes in English, with vocational education and participating in various research and development projects.[252] Aarhus School of Architecture (Arkitektskolen Aarhus) was founded in 1965. Along with the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts of Copenhagen, it is responsible for the education of architects in Denmark. With an enrollment of approximately 900 students, it teaches in five main departments: architecture and aesthetics, urban and landscape, architectonic heritage, design and architectural design[253] Also of note is KaosPilots and several other higher education centres.


Aarhus Airport, with only a few scheduled flights each day, is located 40 km (25 mi) north-east of Aarhus in Tirstrup.[254] The much larger Billund Airport is situated 95 km (59 mi) south-west of Aarhus.[255] There has been much discussion about constructing a better airport for Aarhus, but so far, the plans have not been realized.[256] In August 2014, the city council officially initiated a process to assert the viability of a new international airport.[257]

The main railway station in Aarhus is Aarhus Central Station located in the city centre. DSB has connections to destinations throughout Denmark and beyond. Two local railways provide commuter services to Lemvig and Odder.[258] The Aarhus Letbane is a planned tram-train project which will link two railway lines with a new light rail route through the city.[259] Most city bus lines go through the inner city and pass through either Park Alle or Banegårdspladsen (lit. English: "Central Station Square") or both.[260] County and Inter-city buses terminate at Aarhus Bus Terminal which is located 900 meters north-west of Banegårdspladsen, and in front of the Radisson SAS Scandinavia hotel at Margrethepladsen.[261] The long-distance busses of linie888 connect Aarhus to other cities in Jutland and Zealand.[262]

The Danish ferry company Mols-Linien connects Aarhus with Copenhagen, on the island of Zealand, with rapid ferry connections to Sjællands Odde.[263] Ferries operating between Aarhus and Sjællands Odden include HSC KatExpress 1 and HSC KatExpress 2, the world's largest diesel powered catamarans,[264] and HSC Max Mols all of which cater to foot passengers, private vehicles, trucks and buses.

Aarhus has a free bike sharing system, Aarhus Bycykler (Aarhus City Bikes). The bicycles are available from 1 April to 30 October at 57 stands throughout the city and can be obtained by placing a DKK 20 coin in the release slot, just like caddies in a supermarket. The coin can be retrieved when the bike is returned. Bicycles can also be hired from many shops.[265]


Risskov Psychiatric Hospital, a branch of Aarhus University Hospital

Aarhus University Hospital is one of the country's most specialized hospitals with sophisticated equipment and highly qualified staff. For each of the past three years, it has been ranked as Denmark's best hospital.[266] The new hospital founded in 2011 has some 1,150 beds and a staff of about 10,000. It is the result of a merger between the former Århus Universitetshospital, Århus Sygehus and Skejby Sygehus. In the spring of 1999 the university hospital in conjunction with the Aarhus county authorities founded the Research Clinic for Functional Disorders and Psychosomatics.[267] The hospital collaborates with the Psychiatric Hospital in Risskov, which also conducts psychiatric research.[268] In October 2009, work started on the construction of a large new hospital and headquarters in Skejby, on what has become the largest construction site in Denmark.[269][270] Scheduled to be completed in 2019, the New University Hospital (DNU) will be the largest hospital in the country and will serve patients from all over Central Denmark Region.[271]

Ciconia Aarhus Private Hospital is a leading Danish fertility clinic with a significant sperm bank. Originally founded in 1984, it opened as the first clinic of its kind in Denmark. Ciconia has provided for the birth of 6,000 children by artificial insemination and continually conducts research into the field of fertility.[272] Aagaard Klinik, established in April 2004, is another private clinic in the city which specializes in fertility and gynaecology. In 2013 it treated 2,920 patients and by 2013 was responsible for the birth of 1,900 children through fertility treatment.[273] Aarhus Municipality also offers a number of specialized services in the areas of nutrition, exercise, sex, smoking and drinking, activities for the elderly, health courses and life style.[274]


The Aarhus Søsterhøj TV tower, height 261 m (856 ft)

Established in 1871, the daily newspaper Jyllandsposten (today known as Jyllands-Posten) takes a generally right-wing editorial approach. With a reputation as a serious news publication, the paper has always included news from Jutland, somewhat less so since its promotion as a national newspaper (Morgenavisen Jyllands-Posten) in the 1960s. Today it is one of the three leading serious newspapers in Denmark, the others being Berlingske and Politiken.[275] The first daily newspaper in Aarhus was Århus Stiftstidende, once one of Denmark's largest,[276] established in 1794 as Aarhuus Stifts Adresse-Contoirs Tidender. With a moderately conservative approach, for a time it was a leading provincial newspaper, but after the Second World War it increasingly faced competition from Demokraten (1884-1974) and Jyllands-Posten, both published in Aarhus. In 1998, it merged with Randers Amtsavis and is now run by Midtjyske Medier, part of Berlingske Media.[277]

Danmarks Radio has a large department in Aarhus with over 200 employees. It runs the DR Østjylland radio programme, provides local contributions to DR P4, and produces local regional television programmes.[278] In 1990, TV 2 established its Jutlandic headquarters in Randers but moved to Skejby in northern Aarhus in 1999. The station broadcasts regional news and current affairs television and radio programmes. Since 2012, it has run its own TV channel, TV 2 Østjylland.[279] Aarhus has its own local TV channel TVAarhus, transmitting since 1984.[280][281] After an agreement on 1 July 2014, TVAarhus can be watched by 130.000 households in Aarhus, making it the largest cable transmitted local TV channel in Denmark.[282]

With over 1,700 students, The Danish School of Media and Journalism (Danmarks Medie- og Journalisthøjskole) is the country's largest and oldest school of journalism. The school works closely with Aarhus University where the first journalism course was established in 1946. In 2004, the two institutions established the Centre for University Studies in Journalism, which offers master's courses.[283]

Twin towns—Sister cities[edit]

Aarhus is twinned with seven foreign cities. Originally, the cities mostly co-operated within the spheres of public schools, culture and welfare, but now the co-operation is extended to also cover commercial interests.

The cities are:[284]

Notable people[edit]





Music and culture



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External links[edit]

Coordinates: 56°09′26″N 10°12′39″E / 56.1572°N 10.2107°E / 56.1572; 10.2107