Hammershus Castle - History and Facts | History Hit

Hammershus Castle

Saene, Capital Region of Denmark, Denmark

Hammershus Castle was a medieval fortress, the vast ruins of which lie on the island of Bornholm.

Peta Stamper

08 Jun 2021
Image Credit: Oliver Foerstner / Shutterstock.com

About Hammershus Castle

Hammershus Castle or Hammershus Slot was an imposing castle and fortress, the ruins of which are found on the island of Bornholm in Denmark.The oldest of the ruins of Hammershus Castle date back to the 13th century and are thought to have been built under the remit of the Archbishop of Lund.

Bornholm also only has 4 hours of darkness during the summer, making Hammershus Castle the perfect subject destination for many of Denmark’s early painters. Today, Hammershus is the largest ruin of its kind in Northern Europe and therefore features as one of our Top 10 Visitor Attractions in Denmark.

Hammershus Castle history

The earliest incarnation of Hammershus Castle was likely in the 12th century to consolidate control of the island by the Archbishop of Lund who had a treaty with then-king Svend III. For the next 500 years, Hammershus was the stronghold of the island’s successive rulers, each rebuilding and extending the fortress.

Hammershus Castle remained an important symbol within the struggle between Crown and Church for the island of Bornholm. It was not until 1522 that King Christian II exercised his right for the castle permanently.

In the 17th century, Hammershus served as a prison. Specifically, it was where Leonora Christine, the daughter of King Christian IV, was imprisoned for treason with her husband Corfitz Ulfeldt in 1660. They tried to escape the castle over the walls and down the cliffs, but failed to get away.

During the late 18th and early 19th centuries after defence of the territory had been passed to fortresses at Christiansø and Rønne, the structure of Hammershus Castle was eroded by people exploiting it for building materials. In 1822, the ruins were put onto the historical register.

Hammershus Castle today

Today, at the northern point of Bornholm, you will find Hammershus Castle: a popular tourist attraction where visitors can see its many preserved rooms and features. From the visitor centre terrace you can see the castle in full panoramic view, and the walkway leads through the gorge to the castle ruins. There is also an exhibition on display telling the castle’s history, as well as a shop and cafe.

The castle looks particularly impressive at night, illuminated by a light show.

Getting to Hammershus Castle

Hammershus Castle is found just off the 158/9 on Bornholm island, a 23 minute drive from Ronne. There is plenty of free parking on site. The bus number 2 will take you from Rønne Havn to Hammershus (which takes just over an hour).

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Denmark Historic Sites

Explore the Viking past at Jelling or visit the setting of Shakespeare's Hamlet at Kronborg Castle. Denmark's historic sites are wide-ranging and beguiling.