The Viking Herald presents an overview of the Viking Museum Haithabu, a museum and reenactment site that gives visitors the opportunity to explore the illustrious history of Hedeby (known as Haithabu in German).

Hedeby was one of the oldest cities in Denmark and received ships from the Baltic Sea, the North Sea, and beyond. The area where Hedeby is located was ceded to Germany in 1864 and is today part of the region of Schleswig-Holstein.

What is it?

Hedeby was a major Viking trading town and has been the setting for countless archeological excavations. The Viking Museum Haithabu narrates the story of the town's development and the trading habits of the Norse by presenting a series of spectacular archeological findings.

Next door, you will also find a recreation of some of the buildings of the original site and a section of the famous Danevirke fortifications.

What can you tell us about its history?

Founded by the Norse around the start of the ninth century, Hedeby first rose to prominence after Danish petty monarch King Gudfred sacked the nearby Slav trading settlement of Reric and forcibly moved its inhabitants to Hedeby.

Perfectly positioned, Hedeby soon developed into a major trading post where wares from across Scandinavia, Europe, and even Asia were bought and sold on an impressive scale. 

In addition to signs of local craftsmen at work, archeologists also uncovered evidence of what is believed to be the first Norse mint of the Viking Age.

Hedeby spread across 24 hectares of land at its height and is thought to have been home to approximately 1,500 inhabitants. A key town for Danish rulers, Hedeby was much fought over. 

Eventually, it would succumb to the weight of conflict when a succession of battles and attacks led to its demise in 1066. The site itself was rediscovered in 1900. 

You can read the full story of Hedeby's history here.

Among the museum's most captivating features are the seven wattle-and-daub Viking houses, reconstructed based on archaeological findings to provide an immersive historical experience. Photo: Maren Winter / Shutterstock

What will I find here?

There are two parts to the Viking Museum Haithabu. At the museum, you will find selected archeological artifacts in a classic exhibition focusing on crafts and trade. 

You can also find reconstructions of Viking longships, including a royal ship from the port of Haithabu, said to have been the fastest ship on the Baltic Sea. 

The exhibition also presents information related to burial customs, beliefs, and the exercise of power in the Viking Age in Hedeby.

Museum visitors can then follow a footpath to the original site, where they will find seven wattle-and-daub Viking houses and a landing bridge, reconstructed based on the site's archeological findings.

The reconstructions provide a thrilling glimpse of Norse life at this time, and the site hosts events on a regular basis (though mainly in German). 

The open-air section, with its distinctive semi-circular wall, is freely accessible all year round.

Tell me one thing I can find here and nowhere else in the world:

The view. There is something extraordinary about standing on the landing platform by the water's edge, looking out across the lake (formerly part of the Schlei, an inlet of the Baltic Sea). 

In the silence, you can imagine the arrival of trading ships from all around Europe and the din of a vibrant Viking settlement behind you.

How much does it cost, and how do I get there?

Admission: Adults €9, Discounted €7, Children €3
Address: Haddebyer Ch B76, 24866 Busdorf, Germany
Opening times: Summer daily 9 am-5 pm; Winter Tue-Sun 10 am-4 pm
Access: A bus from Busdorf stops outside the museum. For car access, take route 76. Busdorf is just over an hour's drive from Hamburg.

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