On a steep rocky prominence ... at the northern tip of Bornholm you'll find the impressive medieval fortress of Hammershus. It's a perfect destination for the whole family.
The largest castle ruin in Northern Europe
Experience the largest castle ruin in Northern Europe and the most popular attraction on Bornholm – a place to fire the imagination and bring the history of Bornholm to life. The oldest part of the fortress was probably built in the early 12th century to consolidate control of the island by the Archbishop of Lund (which was then part of Denmark), which he had acquired through a treaty with King Svend III Grathe of Denmark.
Quite new research and excavations seem to prove the fact, that the castle first was ready around the year 1300, and should have been built by Jens Grand – archbishop in Lund from 1289-1302.
For the next 500 years Hammershus was the stronghold of the island’s various rulers. Hammershus was rebuilt and extended on several occasions.
Hammershus is handed back
Until the mid-15th century, Crown and church fought. Bornholm remained an important pawn in the game, with the king taking Hammershus, and with it control of Bornholm, several times. Every time, though, the island was handed back to the archiepiscopal see, for the last time by King Valdemar IV Atterdag in 1362. This time, however, the bishop recognised the right of the Crown to demand the return of Hammershus when the king so wished. But it was not until 1522 that King Christian II exercised this right and asked for the castle to be handed back.
Leonora Christina and Corfitz Ulfeldt
In 1660-61 Danish King Christian IV’s daughter, Leonora Christina, and her husband, Corfitz Ulfeldt, were imprisoned in the castle for treason. A dramatic escape down the walls and cliffs failed.
Hammershus – the old fortress
Hammershus retained its role of defending Bornholm right up until the end of the 17th century, when the defence of Denmark’s easternmost territory passed to the defences on Christiansø and at Rønne. In 1743 Hammershus was finally abandoned as a stronghold and the people of Bornholm were free to gather building materials from the site until 1822, when the ruins were put on the national historic register.
The Hammershus Exhibition
Experience the castle itself and the magnificent scenery at Hammerknuden, if possible in the company of a ranger, who will be able to tell you about how life developed at Hammershus. In the old castle yard by the entrance to Hammershus you will find an informative exhibition with several models of the entire fortification and details of the castle. You can also try on armour – but watch out, it’s heavy.