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)

Rating

4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Lynn Penny (2 years ago)
Took the public bus from Ronne. 4 journeys worth per person from a 10 travel ticket. Can pay with Euro or Krone. Lovely journey across country to get there and back. Castle very impressive. Good visitor centre. Lovely walk along the coast.
Stephanie Kolwinski (2 years ago)
Visiting the castle costs nothing, but the parking does. Parking meter easy to use (important: be sure to print the note). Partly very many visitors, especially when buses have arrived. The castle itself is beautifully raised, is still well preserved and can be admired from all sides. Definitely a place to go!
René Kall (2 years ago)
Beautiful historical place. The welcome center is spectacular, modern and well placed to set the scene for the old ruins. The staff is very friendly and service minded. A visit is highly recommended.
Christian Lemmich (2 years ago)
Hammershus is an absolute must see on Bornholm. Not only is the history of the castle fascinating, but it’s hilltop location provides you with gorgeous views over the ocean, and surrounding area (probably why they built the castle there in the first place!). Hammershus has historically cast a dark shadow over the island, with the residents of the castle taxing and extorting the islanders for their own gains. I strongly recommend stopping by the new visitor centre to gain a deeper insight into the history of Hammershus. Once you’ve walked around the ruins, you can also hike around the base of the castle passing the man made lakes that functioned as a fresh water storage system for the castle.
Michael Berg (2 years ago)
New visitors center is great and of course the ruins themselves are very impressive if you're into that. If not the views are amazing and worth a visit on their own. The burgers they serve at the visitors center are a bit expensive but made from premium ingredients and well worth it. Guides dressed in period clothes walk around in the ruins and tell you about the various areas. Absolutely worth a visit. Cheap parking.
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