Hammershus is Northern Europe's largest medieval fortification, situated 74 metres above sea level. Erected in the 13th century, it was long believed that the castle was built as a private residence for the archbishop of Lund. However, new evidence found at the ruins of the castle suggests it was constructed in the beginning of the century as a royal residence for Valdemar II of Denmark and a base for the Danish crusades, according to Kjeld Borch Westh, superintendent of the National Museum of Denmark.

During a number of successive struggles between the kings of Denmark versus the Archbishopric, the fortress, serving as a refuge for the Archbishops, e.g. Jens Grand, was conquered by the king's army on a number of occasions, e.g. 1259, 1265, 1319, and 1325. In 1521, it was taken by king Christian II who used it to imprison Bishop Jens Andersen Beldenak of Funen. The fortress was conquered by forces of Lübeck the same year.

In 1658, Hammershus was occupied by Swedish forces but a rebellion on the island terminated the Swedish rule. The rebels led by Jens Pedersen Kofoed shot the Swedish commandant Johan Printzenskiöld and the Danish peasants traveled to Copenhagen to return the island to the king of Denmark. Corfitz Ulfeldt and his wife Leonora Christina were imprisoned in Hammershus 1660–1661, and the fortress was used as a prison on several other occasions.

The fortress was partially demolished around 1750 and is now a ruin. It was partially restored around 1900.

The fortification consists of the base castle residence and accompanying Mantel Tower, and includes a great stonewall stretching 750 metres around the castle grounds. Bricks found at the tower during the renovation led Westh and other experts to revise their theory on when the structure was originally constructed, moving back the date from around 1255 to the beginning of the century, when Valdemar became king.

Visitors to Hammershus have a spectacular view of the coastline and the sea surrounding Bornholm. South of the castle is a deep valley, water filled hollows, and dense forest. There are numerous points before arriving at castle where enemies could be stopped. The castle was built with box-like rooms surrounded by rings of fortifications. Each provided an additional layer of protection from invaders. Two natural spring ponds provided fresh drinking water on the side of the castle. Hammershus Fortress features a 750-metre-long perimeter wall and features a grand tower called the "mantel" tower.

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Details

Founded: 13th century
Category: Castles and fortifications in Denmark
Historical period: The First Kingdom (Denmark)

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4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Allan Birnbaum (2 months ago)
The castle it self was nice. We like it. The food however. Nice food but the servings are too large - especially for kids(8) but also for most adults. I understand that to justify kr 125,- it has to be a certain size. They have the option of a doggy bag, but not much order on a kids plate after dining. We had the burger menu.
Patrick Lahr (4 months ago)
A breathtaking castle ruin directly on the Baltic Sea coast. Admission is free. It's especially worth visiting in the evening when most of the visitors are gone.
Nishan M (8 months ago)
An interesting castle ruins to visit with a history that's well worth doing a little research on before visiting. After Easter the visitor center is also open, but outside the usual season the grounds are still open for visitors. It gets really crowded in the main season.
Joachim Reuss (15 months ago)
Beautiful as always and its free. Definitely worthwhile. Got some great photos.
Isz (15 months ago)
Beautiful as always and its free. Definitely worthwhile. Got some great photos.
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