Hammershus Castle

Hammershus Castle



Location: Bornholm Island Map

Constructed: 13th century


History of Hammershus Castle

Hammershus Castle is located on Bornholm Island in Denmark. It is a massive ruined citadel that kept its original medieval layout despite centuries of neglect and abandonment. Fortress offers a stunning view of the Baltic Sea and neighboring Sweden. Hammershus Castle was constructed in the 1255 as a residence for the archbishop of Lund. Although recent archeological digs suggest that it dates to the beginning of the 13th century and initially was constructed as a residence for the secular ruler of Denmark Valdemar II of Denmark. Construction of the castle was probably a compromise that both Valdemar II and archbishop reached after confrontation.


Hammershus Castle is surrounded by a massive wall that reaches a length of 750 meters. Today only parts of the original defenses are preserved.


The size and military importance of the Hammershus citadel became a valued trophy in the struggle between the Church and the state. With the arrival of Reformation the conflict intensified and eventually led to military conquest of Hammershus Castle by the troops of king Christian II in 1521. He captured and imprisoned the former owner of the castle Bishop Jens Andersen Beldenak of Funen here. Hammerhus Castle was used repeatedly by the Danish king as a state prison. Many prominent figures in the country's history were held in Hammershus Castle including Count Corfitz Ulfeldt and his wife Leonora Christina. The castle was finally abandoned in the 1743 and fell in disrepair. Today this largest castle in the Northern Europe undergoes reconstruction after decades of neglect.


The castle is believed to have been founded in the early 13th century, possibly by common agreement between the king, Valdemar Sejr and the archbishop of Lund, Anders Sunesen. Reasonably, this is the castle that Jakob Erlandsen mentioned when he defended his building activities by simply expanding an existing castle, when Christoffer I complained that he broke the ban on building new castles.

In 1265 the castle was conquered by Erik Klipping, but was given back to the archbishop in 1276, so that under the subsequent archbishops Jens Grand and Esger Juul it could play an important role in the power game between king and church.

Erik 6. Menved was dissatisfied with the fact that outlaws could seek refuge in the castle, and in 1319 the marshal Ludvig Albertsen Eberstein succeeded in capturing the castle.

Eberstein was first the king's chieftain at the castle, but when it was given back to the archbishop in 1321 by Christoffer II, he was mayor of the archbishopric of Lund. In 1324 - 1325 he defended the castle against attack and siege by Marshal Peder Vendelbo. After a 16-month siege, Eberstein surrendered, and King Valdemar Atterdag took control of the castle, but soon returned it to the archbishopric, which retained the castle until 1522, when Christian II claimed Hammershus and subsequently appointed the bishop of Odense, Jens Andersen Beldenak , in custody at the castle.

In 1522 Hammershus was conquered by the Lübeckers. They renovated the castle and used it in the years they had Bornholm as a mortgage from 1526. From 1576 Hammershus was again in the hands of the Danish king.

At the Peace of Roskilde in 1658, the Swedes also got Bornholm, and they installed Johan Printzensköld as governor. The Bornholm rebels led by Jens Pedersen Kofoed killed him in December of the same year in Rønne and conquered the day after the castle. It was Villum Clausen who killed the Governor. Then they offered the island to the Danish king.

Fortifications and state prisons
Hammershus is built on a 74 meter high cliff and with its fortifications fills an area of ​​approximately 35,000 square meters. The ring walls have a length of about 750 meters. In the northwest corner you will find a pond that may have supplied the castle with fresh water. Towards the sea there are steep cliffs and to the other sides difficult passable, rocky terrain. The Mantle Tower was built by Bernt Knop, who also reinforced the fortifications, which displaced two Swedish warships with their cannons as late as 1645.

After 1576, when the castle was again in Danish hands, it was let fall into disrepair because it was gradually regarded as an outdated fortification, e.g. due to the improvement of firearms. It was therefore used as a state prison for i.a. Corfitz Ulfeldt and Leonora Christina Ulfeldt, who were deployed in 1660. After their escape from the Mantle Tower and subsequent capture, they were placed in a dark castle chapel, but later again deployed in the Blue Tower - on separate floors.

In 1743, Hammershus was evacuated and then used as a quarry, which was used, among other things, to build the main guard in Rønne, the last castle priest was already in 1648 promoted to the parish priest in Nyker. In 1822, the castle - the ruin of it - was protected.