Viborg is one of the oldest cities in Denmark, with Viking settlements dating back to the late 8th century. Its central location gave the city great strategic importance, in political and religious matters, during the Middle Ages. A motte-and-bailey-type castle was once located in the city. Viborg takes its name from a combination of two Old Norse words: vé, meaning a holy place, and borg, meaning a fort.
Viborg is famous for Viborg Cathedral. The construction of the cathedral started in 1130 and took about 50 years. The building has burned to the ground and been re-built several times. Only the crypt of the original cathedral is still preserved. The cathedral was and is the locus of cult of Saint Kjeld of Viborg who was dean of the cathedral chapter there and had a great shrine there in the Middle Ages. The newest parts of the church are from 1876. The cathedral is famous for its many paintings by Danish painter Joakim Skovgaard, which depict stories from the Bible. Next to the cathedral is the Skovgaard museum, founded in 1937.
Before the Protestant Reformation Viborg was the home of five monasteries, about 12 parish churches, several chapels and of course the cathedral. Today only the cathedral and a few remains of the Franciscan and the Dominican monasteries are left.
Viborg has over the last decade won a reputation as one of Denmark's leading cities for sports. It started with the city's women's handball team (a popular sport in Denmark), which continues to be one of Europe's top-5 clubs. Subsequently, both the men's handball team and most notably the professional football team have established themselves at the top of the Danish leagues. From 1998 to 2008, Viborg FF was a constant member of the Danish Superliga, reaching an all-time high when winning the Danish cup in 2000.
Viborg also hosts the annual Haervejsmarchen international two-day walking festival, which regularly attracts 8,000 participants, including many from outside Denmark. It includes marked routes of distances of up to 45 kilometres a day. The walk is affiliated to the IML Walking Association.
Viborg is home to a number of educational institutions, including Viborg Katedralskole (cathedral school). Denmark's oldest educational institution celebrated its 900th birthday in 2000. The school is believed to have been founded about 1060 - at the same time as the city became the seat of a bishop. The church needed to educate boys and young men to enter into the church's service, and to that purpose it created a school. Its current monumental home was built in 1926 to accommodate a larger number of students and later the school added a dormitory to house the many students from outer regions or islands not close to a gymnasium. Although this role is now basically obsolete, the dorm continues to be a popular solution for many students wanting to get away from home or for a small number of students from Greenland. Viborg Katedralskole is today one of four gymnasiums in Viborg.
Viborg is also home to The Animation Workshop, an art school based in a former army barracks on the outskirts of town. The school, which achieved official recognition from the Danish government in 2003, offers students a Bachelor of Arts in character animation.
For international parents Viborg also has an international school where all teaching is in English based on the Cambridge International examinations.
Viborg is served by Viborg railway station. It is located on the Langå-Struer railway line and offers direct InterCity services to Copenhagen and Struer and regional train services to Aarhus and Struer.Saint Kjeld (died 1150), Archdeacon, canonized 1188
Gunner (1152–1251), Bishop, co-writer of the Law of Jutland
Knud Mikkelsen (the 15th century), Bishop, contributor to the Law of Jutland
Niels Kaas (1535–1594) politician, served as Chancellor of Denmark 1573/1594
Christen Aagaard (1616—1664) poet
Vitus Bering (1617-1675) poet, historian and Supreme Court justice
Carl Deichman (1705–1780) Norwegian businessman, mine operator, book collector and philanthropist
Carl Gottlob Rafn (1769–1808) Enlightenment scientist and civil servant
Anne Marie Mangor (1781–1865) cookbook writer
Peter von Scholten (1784–1854), Governor-General of the Danish West Indies
Mads Alstrup (1808-1876) first Danish portrait photographer with his own studio
Kristian Mantzius (1819–1879) actor
Sophie Zahrtmann (1841–1925) deaconess and nurse
Hans Christian Cornelius Mortensen (1856–1921), ornithologist
Anders Randolf (1870–1930) Danish American actor in American films
Benjamin Christensen (1879–1959), film director, screenwriter and actor
Bertel Dahlgaard (1887–1972) politician and statistician
Olaf Wieghorst (1899–1988), painter
Aage V. Reiter (1901–1982), writer
Hans Brems (1915–2000) Danish American economist
Erna Tauro (1916–1993) Finnish-Swedish pianist and composer.
Peter Seeberg (1925–1999), writer
Johann Otto von Spreckelsen (1929–1987), architect
Peer Hultberg (1935–2007), writer
Finn Døssing Jensen (born 1941) former footballer
Ulrik Wilbek (born 1958) handball coach
Nicolai Vollquartz (born 1965) football referee
Frank Hvam (born 1970) stand-up-comedian
Søren Pape Poulsen (born 1971) politician
Morten Lund (born 1972) jazz drummer
Steffen Højer (born 1973) former football player
Brian Buur (born 1977) darts player
Anders Primdahl Vistisen (born 1987) politician and Member of the European Parliament
Jeff Mensah (born 1992) professional footballer
In the science fiction book The Corridors of Time by Poul Anderson, a Danish-American writer who did considerable research on Danish history, a large part of the plot takes place in 16th-century Viborg. The protagonist - an American time traveller from the 20th century - arrives in the city in 1535 and gets involved with the adherents of the overthrown King Christian II and of the peasant rebel leader Skipper Clement, who face savage persecution in the city.
Viborg is also the setting of "Number 13", a ghost story by the English writer M.R. James.
Viborg is twinned with: Bayeux, France