Churches on Bornholm are among the most popular attractions on the island. In addition to a great commitment to arts, crafts and culture, Bornholm also has a rich church life. Despite their long history, churches are not museums but a living part of island life. We will see here a large variety of historically interesting and very well preserved sacred buildings.
Four round churches on Bornholm are not only the flagship of the island, but also its most important and interesting monuments. Apart from the four round churches on Bornholm, there are only 3 other round churches in Denmark, one in Jutland, Funen and Zealand. On Bornholm, they served as defense buildings to protect the population from possible attackers. The residents wanted protection from pirates who repeatedly attacked Bornholm during the crusades towards Estonia and Latvia.
All four round churches were built around the 11th-12th centuries, between 1150 and 1250. Granite from Bornholm was used as a building material - that's why the churches have been preserved intact to this day. The roofs were previously flat, but were later transformed into a cone shape. All four round churches are shining white. They are visible from a distance and provide an interesting contrast to the Bornholm landscape.
Rotunda churches do not have bells, their belfry is a free-standing tower next to the church. A characteristic feature of all four round churches is the central pillar inside, around which the churches were built. For this reason, Bornholm is definitely worth visiting, especially for lovers of unusual architecture. While on vacation on the island, a visit to the rotunda churches is definitely not to be missed.
One of the most visited attractions on Bornholm is the round church of Østerlars. It is the largest and oldest round church on Bornholm. Located just north of the village, the whitewashed fortified church is clearly visible from afar. Closer, the visitor will see a well-kept cemetery planted with large chestnut trees, in the center of which stands a magnificent building and an external belfry. There you can find old tombstones with common names on Bornholm such as Kofoed.
The round church looks very massive. Heavy walls strengthen the rotunda from the outside. Inside the building there is a middle pillar that is empty inside. There is a baptismal font on the lower floor of the church. Visitors can also visit the second floor, which only served as a shelter and storage room, and the small windows in the walls offer a great view of the surrounding area. Whether by car, bike or on foot - the round church of Østerlars is worth a visit in all seasons and all weathers.
Nyker is a small town northeast of the island's capital Rønne. The round church of Nyker with two floors is the smallest of the four round churches on Bornholm. It was built at the end of the 13th century, making it the youngest rotunda church. There is a beautiful runestone in the vestibule of the church. The central pillar of the church is on the first floor. It is decorated with frescoes from the time the church was built.
The church has a gray stone baptismal font, a richly decorated wooden pulpit, an altar, a golden ceiling chandelier and three colorful mosaic windows. After the church lost its defensive character, the windows in the church were enlarged.
Of the four round churches on Bornholm, the most elegant is the Church of Sankt Ols in Olsker. Located slightly outside the city, the whitewashed rotunda was a defensive fortress for the rural population in the early Middle Ages. The 26-meter-high church is described as elegant because it has a very slender shape. The fact that it was built on top of a hill also contributes to its slender shape from the viewer's point of view. The purpose of this choice of location was not pure aesthetics, but only a good defensive position.
The church owes its name to the Norwegian saint Olaf. The first mention of the church in documents comes from 1379 in the will of Archbishop Niels Johnsen. At that time, the church was probably 200 years old. Inside the church there is a beautiful altar, a vessel suspended from the ceiling, and various paintings. The central pillar, characteristic of this shape of the church, is made of brick due to the narrow structure of the church. The Ols Church has three floors that have been used in the usual way: church hall, shelter, defense hall.
The fourth rotunda church on the island is located in Nylars in the southwest of the island near Rønne. Many visitors describe this church as the most beautiful of the four round churches of Bornholm, and at the same time this church, built around 1160, is considered the best preserved of all the rotunda churches. The interior of this church is especially impressive. Beautiful frescoes from around 1250 on the central pillar depict various scenes: from the creation of Adam and Eve, or the fall of man and expulsion from Paradise. There are two runestones in the atrium of the rotunda, one of which dates back to 1050. The internal diameter of the three-story church is eleven meters.
The imposing and soaring church in the center of Aakirkeby takes its name from two streams that surround it. Its unusual double tower marks the center of the city. A former Romanesque church from the mid-12th century (built around 1150) and the city stand on a huge granite block. The church itself is made of gray Silurian limestone and green sandstone. The construction site of the church was chosen inland as it was the main church on Bornholm and was built at the crossroads of the island's main transport routes.
In the Aa church, a kind of state parliament met regularly. A church conference was also held annually in the Aa church until the 18th century.
The interior of the church is very bright. The pulpit and the altar come from the Renaissance period.
The Allinge Church is a 16th century yellow painted church (built around 1500) located in the center of the town. At first it was a small chapel. It was renovated twice, at the end of the 19th century (then it was rebuilt into a church in 1896) and at the end of the 20th century (1992).
The Danish kings Frederick V in 1687 and Christian V in 1750 visited here twice. The plaques on the back wall of the church testify to this.
There are plague plaques in the church from 1618 and 1654 with the names of people who were victims of the plague. The altar in the church is something special. The pulpit is from around 1650. Organ produced by Busch in 1894. There are also various historical memorabilia from Hammershus Castle, among others tombstones of commanders, chandeliers and an altar.
Romanesque church of St. Bothulfa stands directly on the road from Nexø to Rønne, a few kilometers from Nexø.
The church has a free-standing bell tower and the contrast between the white walls and the red-brown beams on it is particularly striking and worth seeing.
The northern part of the church dates from 1911. The pulpit comes from the 16th century. There are two baptismal fonts in the church, one is made of granite and the other is made of Gotland limestone.
The church in Gudhjem is a relatively young church. The neo-Romanesque granite building was built in 1893 from large granite blocks. The church consists of a square-shaped tower and a nave with a polygonal apse, and the walls are covered with slate. The building was built near the ruins of the chapel of St. Anna from the 13th century. Inside, there is a late Gothic three-part altar from around 1475, and the altar panel and the pulpit come from the chapel of St. Anne.
St. Anna was built of split field stones and bricks. The foundation walls without a roof and a partially visible altar have survived to this day.
There is a church on the island of Christiansø that was built in 1821 in a former armory. In 1852, the church was rebuilt and extended.
The last renovation of the church was carried out in 2007/2008
The Hasle church stands over the harbor. The red church was built as a chapel in the mid-15th century (around 1460). Noteworthy is the intricately carved late gothic altar from the beginning of the 16th century (around 1510).
Unfortunately, only three of the original panels survived. The pulpit of the church is dated to 1600.
Hammershus is one of the largest ruins in Northern Europe. This castle flourished in the 13th and 14th centuries. Of course, apart from all other buildings, the castle complex also included a church or a chapel. Especially when you consider that the castle was built by the bishop of Lund.
The church was dedicated to St. Margaret. The originally Romanesque church was partly made of granite. Of course, split fieldstones and bricks were also used. The first mention of the church comes from 1334. As the church and the castle were no longer used and desecrated from around 1750, individual inventory items ended up in other churches on Bornholm, such as the church in Allinge.
The whitewashed church of St. Jacob is located near Svaneke. You can see his tower from afar. The oldest parts of the church are: the Romanesque west tower, apses and a nave choir. These come from the 11th century. The coat of arms was added later in the 14th century. In 1867 a large transverse building was added. In 1867, the interior of the church was completely rebuilt and redesigned. The old north wall has been torn down. In 1964, the church received a new organ.
The remains of the limestone paintings discovered during the renovation works, unfortunately, could not be restored. The altar "Christ in the garden of Gethsemane" dates from 1846. The church has a statue of Mary, a crucifix, a baptismal font, and on the ceiling there are two candlesticks from 1891 and 1933. The oldest part of the church is a baptismal font that comes from Gotland. In the heraldic house there is a plaque with the names of pastors, information and portraits. Various tombstones were also set up. There are two bells in the belfry from 1773 and 1822.
On the outer walls of the church and cemetery, you can see the typical iron rings to which the parishioners tied their horses.
Nothing has been left of the medieval church in Klemensker to this day, in 1882 a new granite church was built in the same place, most of the equipment comes from that period.
In 1960 the church was restored.
Knuds Church in Knudsker is just a few kilometers east of Rønne. The Romanesque church dates from 1150. It has a tower, several naves and a semicircular apse. The altar and the pulpit are from 1600, but were repainted in 1760.
Various sources say it is the smallest church in Bornholm.
Nexø is a port city on the east coast of Bornholm. The Late Gothic church is dedicated to the patron saint of all seafarers, St. Nicholas, like the Church of St. Nicholas in Rønne. The cityscape is characterized by a white church with a characteristic half-timbered tower from the Renaissance period.
In 1985, the renovation of the interior of the church began. The works were completed in 1995.
St. Nicholas Church in Rønne Harbor is one of the most famous churches on Bornholm, alongside four rotunda churches. It stands a little higher and is visible from a distance.
The history of the church dates back to 1275, when a small chapel was built on the site of today's church. In its history, the church has been rebuilt and extended several times. The floor of the church is covered with Bornholm granite.
Today it is eagerly visited, especially in August, when organ concerts with international organists take place.
Pedersker is a small town in the south of Bornholm. His parish has many small individual houses. The Pederskirke is located just by Søndre Landeva, the road between Snogebæk and Rønne. The church and cemetery are surrounded by a flat white wall.
The church was built around 1150 in the Romanesque style. Some sources and the Pedersker population say it is the oldest church in Bornholm. The old candlestick is of particular interest.
The church is dedicated to St. Peter. His figure can be seen on the ceiling of the church.
Østermarie is a small town in the eastern part of Bornholm, near Svaneke.
The place has two churches, Gamle Kirke ruins build in the beginning of XII century and new church from 1891 when a new church that was built in neo-Romanesque style.
The baptismal font comes from one of the most famous Bornholmers, Jens Kofoed. Inside there is also an interesting altar with a triumphal cross. A figure of the Madonna from 1500 adorns the southern side wing. The altar is from the Bethania Church in Aakirkeby.
The ruins of the old chapel church, Gamle Kirke, are located in the old cemetery and the massive exterior walls have been preserved to this day. It was built around 1200 from granite blocks. The double vault was supported by two pillars. The novelty of this church was the roof.
The Povls church is also worth visiting. It does not have its own tower, the bell tower of the church is standing next to it.
The church was built around 1250 in the Romanesque style. Inside you can find various frescoes from this period. During the last renovation, the former altar front was unveiled.
Rø Church is located on the outskirts of Gudhjem in the small town of Rø. Although it was only built in 1888, it is a copy of a predecessor built around 1200.
Fragments of the old church can still be seen in the armory and in the tower hall. The gray church consists of large granite blocks and was built in the Neo-Romanesque style. The altar and the pulpit are from the first half of the 17th century.
Hammerknuden is the northern tip of the island of Bornholm. This huge granite plateau north of Sandvig is completely undeveloped, with the exception of the two Hammer Fyr lighthouses, Hammerodde Fyr and Solomon's Chapel.
The ruins of Salomons Kapel stand on the west coast, directly by the water. The chapel was built around 1300 for fishermen and other passing ships. The building was built of split field stones and bricks. Unfortunately, nothing of the chapel's furnishings has survived, except for the bell that found its place in the church in Allinge.
The distinctive red painted church in Svaneke was built as a chapel around 1350 and received its imposing half-timbered tower in 1789. The pulpit comes from the Baroque period and dates back to 1683.
The church was only painted red after the last renovation.
The Ruts Church can be seen in Rutsker, a small town northeast of Hasle. It is located at an altitude of 130 m above sea level and it is the highest located church in Denmark. It is clearly visible from a distance on a hill surrounded by fields.
The church was built around 1200 in the Romanesque style. Its tower is worth seeing. In contrast to the whitewashed church, the tower is kept in the dark colors of the stone used. Inside the church there is a chandelier from the former Hammershus fortress. The frescoes inside are also worth seeing. The church received a special distinction from its former pastor - Povel Hansen Anker (1630 - 97). He led the Bornholm uprising against the Swedish occupation in December 1658, after which the island was returned to Denmark.
Tejn is a small fishing village on the east coast of Bornholm, between Gudhjem and Allinge. The village has the youngest church in Bornholm.
The Tejn Church dates back to 1940. The construction, which began in 1939, follows the plans of the architect Gravslund. The church consists of a rectangular nave and a belfry with the main entrance on the west side. The whitewashed functional building houses an unusual baptismal font.
Vestermarie is a town in the center of Bornholm. The local church was built of reddish granite in 1885 in the neo-Romanesque style. It replaced the medieval Marienkirche. The altar shows Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. The altar and the pulpit are from the old church.
In 1982, the church received a clay cross. In the courtyard of the church, there are 6 runestones from the 11th century and a chapel from 1825. It is the oldest building in Vestermarie.