Hedeby is the Southernmost Nordic town, and played an important role as a key trading center in the viking age. It is at the crossroads of the Slien Fjord and the Baltic Sea to the East, streams that led to the Atlantic running close by to the West and the main land route, the Army Road running along the Jutland high ridge up along the Eastern side of Jutland.

The city area is surrounded by a 1300 meter long city wall in a half circle around the city area. The city wall is in places still 10 meters high, and was directly connected to the wall, Danevirke, which crossed the entire peninsula of Jutland with Hedeby as the Eastern edge.

Today the city wall can be distinguished from the surroundings by the trees that grow on it. The city area is 6 hectares large. Hedeby is known to exist as early as in the 8th century. A written source tells of the arrival of King Godfred to Hedeby in 804 with his army. And in 808 King Godfred closed down a Slavic trading center called Reric and moved all its merchants to Hedeby.

The Eastern side of the city area is an arm of the Slien Fjord. This was one of the biggest ports in the Baltic Sea at the time, and had its own defensive system with a chain fencing off the harbour area from the Fjord. Today an example of the kinds of bridges that the viking ships moored at has been created to illustrate how things looked. The cows in the picture are not a recreation of how things were - Hedeby was so large and specialized a trading and crafts construction center that cows inside the Hedeby city wall would be as unusual then as cows on today"s Champs Elysees in Paris would be.

One of the finds made in Hedeby is a large viking ship, which is on display at the Hedeby Museum, along with a model of the original. This is a warship, and probably not the most typical ship type that visited Hedeby, which would see a lot of cargo ships bringing and leaving with different goods, primarily from the Baltic Sea area and Russia.

Hedeby was built around a small stream that runs down through the area, dividing it into a Northern and a Southern section. The reconstructed houses are located just North of the stream, at its original edge.

Around 1050 Hedeby was sacked again and probably destroyed by the attackers, and it was never rebuilt. Around the same time the town of Schleswig at the Northern edge of the Slien Fjord grew steadily in size and importance. A possible reason could be that the ship traffic increasingly needed a deeper harbour than Hedeby could offer.

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Address

Kirchweg, Schleswig, Germany
See all sites in Schleswig

Details

Founded: c. 770 AD
Category: Prehistoric and archaeological sites in Germany
Historical period: Part of The Frankish Empire (Germany)

Rating

4.3/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Nabeel Al-Nazer (20 months ago)
Here you see the details of daily life of the vikings. Truly beautiful.
Arunabh Sharma (2 years ago)
A great glimpse into the world of Vikings. It was a great experience. It was a day well spent!
rogink (2 years ago)
We only visited the village but this has been thoughtfully recreated as a typical Viking settlement around 7/8th century. Leaflets available in English as well as German, maybe Danish. We should have toured the museum first because they have the audioguide. Only 7 euro so probably deserves 5 stars, but as above, I can't give a complete rating.
M. P. (2 years ago)
Perfect viking museum. A must visit!. Very friendly service. Stunning exhibition. An adventure for the whole family. Very impressive.
Sarah Janning-Picker (2 years ago)
Great and interesting museum of the Viking times. For the visit of this UNESCO World Heritage Site I recommend booking a guided tour or taking an audio guide which is available in German, English and Danish. A lot of content is transmitted that way. Don't miss the ancient Viking settlement outside! It's well worth a visit. Viking style jewellery and other souvenirs are available and you have a restaurant and toilets. Try to come here by bike, it's a lovely ride!
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