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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.
There are strong indications of a former royal residence from the Viking Age in Viby, a few kilometres south of the Aarhus city centre.
The growing influence of the Church during the Middle Ages gradually turned Aarhus, with its bishopric, into a prosperous religious centre.
Market town privileges were granted in 1441, but growth stagnated in the 17th century as the city suffered blockades and bombardments during the Swedish Wars.
In the 19th century it was occupied twice by German troops during the Schleswig Wars but avoided destruction.
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.