Bornholm is Denmark's crown jewel. `The Pearl of the Baltic' has sandy beaches on the south of the island which are renowned for their
Mediterranean light and feel. Its forests impart a more rugged feel
than found elsewhere in densely-populated Denmark. Though practically
unknown to Americans, this island of light is a favorite vacation spot
for Scandinavians, Germans, and Poles. Its position in the middle of
the Baltic (it is closer to Sweden, Poland and Germany than to rest of
Denmark) gives both a secluded, yet international feel.
Bornholm is an island located in the Baltic Sea 37 km south of Sweden. The island is roughly 588 square kilometres and has 158 km of coastline.
Bornholm is widely known for its smoked herring, high quality arts and crafts and its beautiful nature.
As of January 2003 Bornholms five regions assembled into one administrative and political unit called Bornholms Regionskommune.
As of January 2007 Bornholm belongs to the Capital Region. (Hovedstadsregionen) This means that Bornholm in some administrative areas as healthcare and environmental protection has been fused with a larger area of Sealand but not Copenhagen.
Bornholm has a long history as a military and political center in the Baltic ocean. The history goes back to the famous Vikings. Numerous findings at southern Bornholm indicate that Bornholm was a well established trading point. Poland, Sweden and Germany are all in the range of 100km. That made Bornholm attractive for the Danish king and the archbishop of Lund and the city of Lübeck during medieval times. Catholics who fasted were only allowed to eat fish and other similar things, so that in the 13th century herring was the main income source on Bornholm.
The European plague struck Bornholm in the middle of the 14th century and halved the population. It was also during this time that Hammershus was constructed, as well as the famous 'round churches'. From 1525 to 1576 Bornholm was in pawn to Lübeck, because the Danish king Frederik I had been supported it in his rebellion against the Swedish King Christian II. The people of Bornholm were suppressed with high taxes and forced work. The people of Bornholm tried to break free but the revolt was fought down in the battle of Ugleenge.
A battle between Denmark and Sweden in 1645 led to Swedish control of the island, but it was brief - they left again the same year. In the Roskildepeace of 1658 Bornholm, Skaane , Halland and Blekinge were given to Sweden. Again the people were forced to pay high taxes to the suppressive forces. The Danish king advised the people of Bornholm to fight back. In 1658 the Swedish commander of Bornholm was killed in Rønne, and the people of Bornholm freed themselves from years of foreign command. Bornholm was given to the Danish king as 'his island'. Jens Kofoed, Poul Anker, Peder Olsen and Villum Clausen became champions of liberty. The same four men have, in modern times, given name to the ferries from Bornholmstrafikken.
Bornholm was Danish until World War Two, and then was it taken over by the Germans and later freed by the Russians in 1945; the Russians wouldn't leave Bornholm because of the progressing cold war and only left after being given some special privileges.
Bornholm was NATO's Fist towards the east, but a Russian (Soviet) declaration after World War II stated that the placement of "foreign soldiers" (NATO) on Bornholm wasn't allowed. So, it was only Danish soldiers who were allowed duty at Bornholm. Because they were able to listen to Soviet, Polish and East German military radio transmissions from a location much further to the east of any other NATO members, enabling military movements and reinforcements deep within the Soviet Union to be monitored, Denmark's contribution to shared NATO intelligence was very highly valued, particularly at times of international tension. More recently NATO radar installations have been placed on the island.
As in other places in the world, Bornholm felt the industrial revolution during the 19th century, and in 1843 its Hasle klinker (clinker)was established, it was one of Bornhom's biggest export ventures since the herring in the middle ages. Also, the underground of Bornholm was and still is today a major part of the Bornholm industry. Bornholm is an island of Granite.
Bornholmstrafikken (formerly known as ‘Dampskibsselskabet af 1866’or The Steamship Company of 1866) was founded in 1866 and is still the regular route to and from Bornholm.
A view of the closed factory, Hasle Klinker
Bornholm's main income source has, as an island, always been the sea which surrounds it, and in the 1970s through the 1980s the fishermen of the island were so successful that many of them became really wealthy. No one ever wondered about the quantity of fish they pulled up in their boats until the beginning of the 1990s. The harbours and processing facilities were all rebuilt to be prepared for a new season of fishing, but the season was called off by marine biologists. Because of overfishing, the sea was empty, there were no fish in it. That led to a crash in the industry because one man at sea could keep six on shore at work – in processing facilities, shopping, service and maintenance.
five kinds of granite on Bornholm (from Aakirkeby square)
As Bornholm has many tourists each year most people speak either English, German or Swedish, the exception being most of the older population.
Almost all tourist folders are to be found in English, German, Polish and a Scandinavian language.
The easiest way to explore Bornholm is by bike, the longest distance on the island is 36 km. There are excellent biking facilities all over Bornholm.
It is easy to rent a bike at Bornholm an the charge varies from place to place but about €10 for a day and €20 for a whole week.
Svaneke A Very well preserved town on the most Eastern point of the island, Svaneke boasts the most hours of sunlight in all of Northern Europe. Known as one of the prettiest and best preserved towns on the island it is also well known for its many artists and galleries. There is a market day on the town square and it is one of the most wonderful things about this town. Wednesday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. throughout the summer season and only on Saturdays until noon the rest of the year. The market is crowded with people, buying and talking, watching and contemplating... listening to the live music and drinking beer.The requirement for being a vendor here is, you have to have made the wares yourself. There are fresh organic vegetables, battered fried fish, sausages and bitters, photo-cards, jewellery, artworks and crafts, hats sweaters and socks, even leather shoes; there is something for everyone here. A big hit with the kids is the horse and buggy ride around the town, picking up and dropping people off on the market. The colourful life of the market on its own is worth the visit. The unique red church from the 1300s is also worth seeing, it is one of the oldest on the island and one of the prettiest too, as it watches over Baltic. Svaneke has two harbours, a larger one and a smaller one for the locals, filled with colourful boats and a nearby seafood smokehouse (with indoor and outdoor dining). But perhaps what this town is most well known for... is its beer. The islands only brewery Svaneke Bryghus has become quite well known all over Denmark. A water tower designed by the architect John Utzon (best known for the Sydney Opera House) in Svaneke. Oluf Høst was born in Svaneke and his house can be seen on OlufHøstgade. There are also many specialty sweet shops in Svaneke, such as handmade candies, caramels, licorice and chocolates, all made in high quality. There is even an organic homemade ice-cream parlour. Svaneke is also one of the only towns besides Rønne that has life even throughout the winter.
Joboland An amusement park near Svaneke with a small water park, animals and rides.
Dueodde - white sanded beaches with some of the finest sand in the world.
Gudhjem The name translates directly to 'God's Home' and is famous for its gorgeous sunrises. The many steep hills leading you farther into town, down towards the harbour, are what is the most charming in the town. Gudhjem is quite dead in the winters but is bustling with tourists in the summer. There are many shops and restaurants and a very large white mill. Right up from Gudhjem is the island's best swimming pool. The water is half-saltwater so as to be able to use less chlorine. There are massive wall to wall and ceiling windows, tropical plants and a waterslide. There is a sauna in both mens' and womens' changing rooms.
Sandvig and Allinge These two amalgamated towns on the Northern coast of the island are both romantic and pretty. Allinge is especially lovely and famous for its Smokehouse and its annual Jazz Festival.
Nyker The smallest of the four round churches. Located in Nyker in the southwestern part of Bornholm north of Rønne
Nylars The second-smallest of the four round churches. Located in Nylars in the southwestern part of Bornholm east of Rønne.
Olsker The second-largest and also the tallest of the four round churches. Located in Olsker in the northwestern part of Bornholm southeast of Allinge-Sandvig.
Østerlars The largest of the four round churches. Located in Østerlars in the northern part of Bornholm south of Gudhjem.
The old part of Rønne
Slotslyngen - wild nature near Hammershus
Bornholms Kunstmuseum The largest art collection on Bornholm. Includes such artists as Oluf Host (Høst), Karl Isakson and many others. The museum is most famous for its fantastic architecture and amazing location on the sea side.
Hammershus A large ruin at the Northernmost point of the island.
The Medieval Centre of Bornholm A small rebuilt city from the medieval times. They have stalls, demonstrations, food, performers and special activities for children. Every year a large market is held for a week in mid-July. Enthusiasts from different countries attend and the centre is turned into a large theatre with all kinds scenes from the everyday-life of the medieval. The climax is a huge battle with cannon smoke, bowmen, tournament on horseback and knights in armor.
Rytterknægten Observation tower in Almindingen near Ekkodalen (The Echo Valley)
Dueodde - The sand is ultra-fine and inviting. The water is clear and clean with lots sand bars, so there is both shallow and deep water close to the shore. The sand is white and if it were not for the pine trees in the distance, one would believe to be in the tropics.
Balka - Balka is the most popular beach on Bornholm. It is several kilometres long and has very fine sand and shallow water.
Antoinette - A beach north of Rønne, plenty space to be your self and enjoy the weather and ocean.
Hullehavn - A small beach on the outskirts of Svaneke, it's incorporated into the cliffs and even has a divingboard. The beach has camping on one side of it and the lighthouse on the other. Hullehavn is known for how it's easy-going atmosphere. Both locals and tourists enjoy Hullehavn where people are very laid back and sociable; age and nationality means nothing. There is a there is a little bar/cafe/ice-cream/kiosk with tables and chairs right on the beach. There are often concerts and at the cafe and djs and dancing.