Medieval churches in Bornholm

St. Bodil's Church

St Bodil's Church (Sankt Bodil Kirke) was built around 1200. It was dedicated to the English saint Botulf but by 1530 it had mistakenly become known by the woman's name "Bodil" although there has never been a Saint Bodil. As a result, the parish is called Bodilsker. The church first belonged to the Archbishopric of Lund, then came under the Danish crown at the time of the Reformation. In the 19th century, it became fully ...
Founded: ca. 1200 | Location: Neksø, Denmark

Aa Church

Aa Church (Aa kirke) is a Romanesque church dating from the 12th century. Aa Church, which literally means "stream church", owes its name to the two streams which run beside it. Dedicated to John the Baptist, it was first known as Sankt Hans kirke (St John's Church). A gilded figure of St John stood in the church until 1706 but was buried in the churchyard by the priest as it was attracting undue attention from Catholic p ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Aakirkeby, Denmark

Nexø Church

The actual building time of Nexø Church is unknown, but the construction was probably started around the year 1346. It represents the late Gothic style and is dedicated to St. Nicholas, the saint of seafarers. The church tower was added in the 16th century and the spire in 1910. The pulpit and gilded cruficix date from the 17th century.
Founded: ca. 1346 | Location: Nexø, Denmark

St. Paul's Church

The Church of St. Paul (Sankt Povls Kirke) was built around 1200. Anyway the first mention of the church date from 1335. It was enlarged in 1871 and the porch was restored in 1881. The medieval stone font was made in Gotland. There are also some fine frescoes.
Founded: ca. 1200 | Location: Neksø, Denmark

Svaneke Church

Svaneke Church stands above the harbour at a height of 18 metres on the site of a small chapel which appears to have existed for quite some time before the town received its charter in the 16th century. The church was expanded over the years, the tower and spire being completed in 1789. In 1881, virtually the whole building was rebuilt by architect Mathias Bidstrup of Rønne, leaving only the tower and a small secti ...
Founded: 16th century | Location: Rønne, Denmark

Hasle Church

Hasle Church was built around 1460 and it was restored in 1758. The porch was added in in 1882. The late Gothic altarpiece was made in 1510s and the pulpit around 1600. There is also a Viking age runestone in the churchyard.
Founded: ca. 1460 | Location: Hasle, Denmark

Allinge Church

Allinge Church (Allinge Kirke) was originally a small granite longhouse from the around the 14th century. In 1892 it was completely rebuilt in the Neogothic style. The earliest documented record of the church dates from 1569 when it was known as "Alende Capell" (Alende Chapel). With the Reformation it passed from the Archbishopric of Lund to the Danish crown but is now fully independent. Until 1941, it was an annex to San ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Allinge, Denmark

St. Peter's Church

St. Peter's Church (Sankt Peders Kirke) is a well-preserved sample of Romanesque building style. The oldest parts nave and apsis were built around the year 1100. The church has been enlarged and modified in the 17th and 19th centuries. The bells were made in 1574 and 1701. The font is original and made in Gotland. The interior date mainly from the 19th century.
Founded: ca. 1100 | Location: Aakirkeby, Denmark

Ny Kirke

Ny Kirke (New Church) is a 12th century round church located in the village of Nyker. Built in the Romanesque style with two storeys, it contains frescoes from various periods and a pulpit with 17th century-panels. Ny Kirke is normally considered to be the youngest of the island's four round churches. It was originally called "Ecclesia Omnium Sanctorum" (All Saints Church). The present name dates from the middle of the 16 ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Rønne, Denmark

St. Knud's Church

St. Knud’s is a traditional old village church, situated some distance to the east of Rønne town centre. It was built around the year 1150. It is the smallest church on Bornholm. The little church’s interior is of slightly more recent provenance - the altar dating from the 17th century and the interior decoration from the 18th.
Founded: ca. 1150 | Location: Rønne, Denmark

Ruth's Church

Ruth's Church (Ruts Kirke) was built in the early 13th century in the Romanesque style. Situated on a hilltop 130 m above sea level, it is the island's highest-standing church. The oldest reference to the church dates from 1490 where Sancti Michelssogen (St Michael's Parish) is mentioned. The church was initially consecrated as St Michael's, possibly because of its high location. By 1621, the name had become Ruth's Church ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Hasle, Denmark

St. Ib's Church

St Ib's Church (Sankt Ibs kirke or Ibsker) is a fine 12th century Romanesque building. The church was originally known as Beati Jacobi (1335), in 1429 it became Sancti Jacobs kirke (St Jacob's Church) and later evolved to Ibs Kirke (Ib being the familiar Scandinavian form of Jacob) which in turn became Ibsker (ker meaning church). Today the parish is officially known as Ibsker. The church consists of a Romanesque tower, ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Svaneke, Denmark

Olsker Church

Sankt Ols Kirke (St Olaf's Church), also known as Olsker Church, is a 12th century round church located in the village of Olsker. Built in the Romanesque style and reaching three storeys high, it has from the beginning consisted of a round nave, a choir and an apse. The church was named after the revered King Olaf II of Norway who fell at the Battle of Stiklestad in 1030. The church first belonged to the Archbishopric of ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Allinge, Denmark

Nylars Church

Nylars Church (Nylars Kirke) is a round church built around 1165. The church was dedicated to St Nicholas. Originally designed for a defensive role, the solid structure contains a series of 13th century frescoes, the oldest of Bornholm's four round churches. The three storeys are built of fieldstone and with window and door frames of limestone. The original defensive systems are largely intact. The decorated south door i ...
Founded: ca. 1165 | Location: Aakirkeby, Denmark

Østerlars Round Church

Østerlars Church is the largest and, possibly, the oldest of the Bornholm island's four round churches. Built in about 1160, it was dedicated to St. Lawrence. It consists of an apse, an oval chancel, a large round nave and has three storeys. There is evidence the church was once fortified, the top storey serving as an open shooting gallery. The fieldstone wall stands on foundations of Bornholm limestone. The double ...
Founded: ca. 1160 | Location: Gudhjem, Denmark

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Eketorp Fort

Eketorp is an Iron Age fort in southeastern Öland, which was extensively reconstructed and enlarged in the Middle Ages. Throughout the ages the fortification has served a variety of somewhat differing uses: from defensive ringfort, to medieval safe haven and thence a cavalry garrison. In the 20th century it was further reconstructed to become a heavily visited tourist site and a location for re-enactment of medieval battles. Eketorp is the only one of the 19 known prehistoric fortifications on Öland that has been completely excavated, yielding a total of over 24,000 individual artifacts. The entirety of southern Öland has been designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The Eketorp fortification is often referred to as Eketorp Castle.

The indigenous peoples of the Iron Age constructed the original fortification about 400 AD, a period known to have engendered contact between Öland natives with Romans and other Europeans. The ringfort in that era is thought to have been a gathering place for religious ceremonies and also a place of refuge for the local agricultural community when an outside enemy appeared. The circular design was believed to be chosen because the terrain is so level that attack from any side was equally likely. The original diameter of this circular stone fortification was about 57 metres. In the next century the stone was moved outward to construct a new circular structure of about 80 metres in diameter. At this juncture there were known to be about fifty individual cells or small structures within the fort as a whole. Some of these cells were in the center of the fortified ring, and some were actually built into the wall itself.

In the late 600s AD the ringfort was mysteriously abandoned, and it remained unused until the early 11th century. This 11th century work generally built upon the earlier fort, except that stone interior cells were replaced with timber structures, and a second outer defensive wall was erected.

Presently the fort is used as a tourist site for visitors to Öland to experience a medieval fortification for this region. A museum within the castle walls displays a few of the large number of artefacts retrieved by the National Heritage Board during the major decade long excavation ending in 1974. Inside the fort visitors are greeted by actors in medieval costumes who assume the roles of period artisans and merchants who might have lived there nine centuries earlier. There are also re-enactment scenes of skirmishes and other dramatic events of daily life from the Middle Ages.

Eketorp lies a few kilometers west of Route 136. There is an ample unpaved parking area situated approximately two kilometers west of the paved Öland perimeter highway. There is also a gift shop on site. During peak summer visitation, there are guided tours available. Visitors are assessed an admission charge.