Facts about us


Danish Centre for Urban History was founded in 2001 by The Department of History and Area Studies at Aarhus University (today School of Culture and Society) and Den Gamle By - the national open-air museum of urban history in Aarhus.


The centre has a board of directors and a supervisory board. Chairman of the board of directors is Director Thomas Bloch Ravn, Den Gamle By. The institute and Den Gamle By provide other members of the board and The Danish Committee for Urban History appoints one member.

The Danish Committee for Urban History is the Danish organization within Commission Internationale pour l'Histoire des Villes, and serves as supervisory board of the centre. The committee maintains independent activities. The funding of the centre is split between School of Culture and Society at Aarhus University and Den Gamle By.


The field of the centre is the history of Danish towns from the Middle Age until today, but core activity is focusing on the period after 1600. The centre is the sole historical institution in Denmark that provides urban studies in a comparative and historical perspective.

Research and funding

Research at the centre is typically embedded in externally financed projects and researchers’ networks.

The core research fields are: Urbanization 700-2000, urban historiography, economic urban-rural relations 1500-1900, town planning 1800-1970, urban spatial development 1800-1920, civic militias and urban culture 1700-1870, trade relations between Denmark and The Netherlands 1600-1750.


The centre has three books series; Danske Bystudier (Danish Urban Studies), Skrifter om dansk byhistorie (Writings on Danish Urban History) and Den Digitale Udgivelsesrække (Digital Writings).

The first book series is called Danske Bystudier (Danish Urban Studies) and is reserved for studies of extended periods or urban historical themes of a more universal kind. Five volumes, all anthologies, have so far been published in this series. They are The Medieval Town, The Classical Market Town, The Modern City, Danish Towns during Absolutism and Fortified Towns during the Renaissance. The series is produced in cooperation with Aarhus University Press.

The second book series is called Skrifter om dansk byhistorie (Writings on Danish Urban History) and includes works with subject matters that are geographically, chronologically or thematically focused.

Finally, the centre has a series of digital publications.

All publications can be found here.


The Centre gives priority to digital communication of urban history assigning weight to methodological and technological innovation. 

The website Den Digitale Byport (The Digital City Gate) has databases, full-text source collections and other forms of digital research infrastructure, e.g. a Urban History Bibliography including digital papers and statistical and other forms of records and figures of trade, shipping, population, occupations, civic militias, monuments, various urban building types.

The centre also communicates through social media e.g. its facebook and twitter. And runs a blog where posts from scholars and researchers in urban history, architecture and related disciplines contribute with short entries and reviews. So far, it is primarily in Danish, but is can be found here.  


Danish Centre for Urban History seeks to connect history students with the activity of Den Gamle By, primarily by term papers and trainee projects that add to the museum’s documentation of a 20th century town quarter that is being reconstructed at the museum but also many other relevant projects.

The centre participates in and tries to initiate the ongoing dialogue about research and communication of Danish urban history by holding seminars and keeping in contact with Danish museums and local archives etc.