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Many public and religious buildings were built in and around the city; notably Aarhus Cathedral was initiated in the late 12th century by the influential bishop Peder Vognsen.In 1441, Christopher III issued the oldest known charter granting market town status although similar privileges may have existed as far back as the 12th century.As the industrial revolution took hold, the city grew to become the second-largest in the country by the 20th century.
The city was founded on the northern shores of a fjord at a natural harbour and the primary driver of growth was for centuries seaborne trade in agricultural products.
In 1657, octroi was imposed in larger Danish cities which changed the layout and face of Aarhus over the following decades.
Wooden city walls were erected to prevent smuggling, with gates and toll booths on the major thoroughfares, Mejlgade and Studsgade.
In 2010, the city council voted to change the name from "Århus" to "Aarhus" to strengthen the international profile of the city. Certain geographically affiliated names have been updated to reflect the name of the city, such as the Aarhus River, changed from "Århus Å" to "Aarhus Å".
It is still grammatically correct to write geographical names with the letter Å and local councils are allowed to use the Aa spelling as an alternative.
The city ranks as the 92nd largest city in the European Union, and as number 234 among world cities. Aarhus is the principal industrial port of the country in terms of container handling and an important trade hub in Kattegat.