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It is a centre for research and education in the Nordic countries and home to Aarhus University, Scandinavia's largest university, including Aarhus University Hospital and INCUBA Science Park.
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.
Major Danish companies have based their headquarters here and people commute for work and leisure from a wide area in Region Midtjylland.
Aarhus is home to the annual eight-day Aarhus International Jazz Festival, the SPo T Festival and the North Side Festival.