On my first Saturday here on Bornholm, I flew out of the island early in the morning. I was going to Jutland for only 27 hours to attend my big brother’s wedding with the love of his life. It was a beautiful and enriching day that I won’t forget anytime soon. It was nothing less of magical.
Busy as I am, I didn’t have time to stay in Jutland any longer, and returned to Bornholm Sunday afternoon at 1.30 PM.
My teacher Rune, the three other archaeology students and I had planned a field trip to the north of Bornholm, so Rune picked me up at the airport and then we drove to Hammershus, where we met with the others.
Hammershus is the most famous sight on Bornholm, and thus was the perfect place to start our day of sightseeing.
Hammershus is the largest medieval fortification in Scandinavia. The fortress was built in the 13th century and is believed to have been the private residence for the archbishop of Lund or the royal residence of King Valdemar II of Denmark, as new evidence has suggested.
The fortress consists of the base castle; the Mantel Tower, where King Christian IV of Denmark’s daughter Leonora Christine and her husband Count Corfitz Ulfeldt were imprisoned in the 17th century; and a great 759 m long stonewall that stretches around the fortress grounds.
Hammershus is situated 74 metres above sea level on Hammeren, the northernmost tip of Bornholm, and offers amazing views over the Baltic Sea and the south of Sweden in the horizon.
When we had finished up at Hammershus, we drove on to Opalsøen, one of my favourite spots on Bornholm. Opalsøen is an opal blue coloured artificial lake, created by stone quarrying in the late 19th century. The lake is among the oldest quarries on Bornholm, but the work there stopped in 1971, after which the enormous hole was abandoned and was slowly filled with water.
The others had a plan with me at Opalsøen. Rune had told me about a fairly new cableway that has been installed at the top of the cliffs surrounding the lake, at 50 metres above sea level, and without thinking, I’d agreed to try it. I had no idea what I had said yes to. Standing up there, getting ready to jump, I was as scared as ever. It was almost at the point where I felt like my life would flash before my eyes. But with the help of the instructor, who had to push me in the end, I did it. I made it, I was still alive, and I felt even more alive than before. It was scary, yes, but it was also AMAZING. So thank you guys, for talking me into doing it!
The others took videos of me from four different angles, so I’m going to put together a short video when I get back from Bornholm and post it here! Maybe I can inspire you to come to this beautiful island and try this SCARY activity? 😉
After doing the cableway, Rune, Lula and I climbed to the top of the cliffs to see and photograph the amazing views of Opalsøen and other surrounding lakes from above, where we could see all the way to Hammershus as well. We went looking for Christine and Pernille, who had wandered off to find another lake called Krystalsøen, but somehow, we ended up getting lost. When we finally got hold of Christine and Pernille, they told us that they were lost too… So we stopped looking for each other and decided to meet back at the parking lot, if we could somehow find our way down there.
Somehow, and I’m really not sure how, we ended up at Hammeren Fyr, a coal-fired lighthouse built in 1802, modernized in 1837 and abandoned in 1872, when a replacement was built on the highest point on Hammeren.
It wasn’t on the itinerary, but it was actually on my list of things to see on Bornholm, so I didn’t quite mind being lost at that very moment!
From the lighthouse, I tried to find the easiest path to take us down the cliffs to the parking lot, but we ended up having to fight our way through a very overgrown part of the forest that looked far too exotic to be in Denmark, but eventually, we found our way out of there and got reunited with the others. What an adventure it had been!
Then we drove to the Madsebakke Rock Carvings, which is definitely a highlight on Bornholm for anyone with archaeological interests!
These Bronze Age rock carvings come in many different forms, such as ships, suns and footprints, and Madsebakke has the largest complex in all of Denmark, located on a rocky hillside with a view of the village of Allinge-Sandvig and the Baltic Sea.
Our next stop was Jons Kapel, but we made a quick stop at St. Olaf’s Church on the way, as I want to see all four of the round churches here on Bornholm, and my teacher was quite easy to persuade 😉
St. Olaf’s Church is a 12th-century round church, built in Romanesque style. The church rises 13 metres, making it the highest of Bornholm’s four round churches.
A few kilometres later, we parked our cars by a kiosk and followed signs along a path pointing to Jons Kapel.
Jons Kapel (or John’s Chapel in English) is a rock bluff located on the rocky west coast of the island. These incredible cliff formations are the result of waves beating against the rocks at a time with much higher sea levels than today.
The cliffs were named after Jon, a hermit, who resided in a cave on the cliff, according to the legend. Jon was sent to Bornholm to bring Christianity to the local islanders. Many islanders were curious and visited Jon in his cave, until there was no longer enough space, so instead, Jon crawled up on a cliff (“The Pulpit”), from where everyone could see and hear him preach.
After exploring the spectacular cliffs at Jons Kapel, we parted with Rune. On the way home, the four of us made a quick detour to Hellige Peder, where Christine grew up in the cutest little cottage with the most amazing view over the Baltic Sea. As the sun was getting ready to set, we decided in that moment that seeing a sunset would be the perfect way to end a beautiful day.
We decided to get some dinner at a grill bar nearby, and drove to the village of Hasle, where we ordered our greasy foods. We then sat at the cozy harbour for two hours, talking, laughing and enjoying the setting sun, and watched it until it almost hit the horizon. By then, we were too cold to sit there any longer, so we decided to call it a day.
On the way back to Åkirkeby Camping, we stopped by Nyker to see the round church there as well.
The church is called New Church (Ny Kirke), and was built in the 12th century in Romanesque style, like the other round churches on Bornholm, although it’s considered to be the youngest of the four round churches on the island.
When we got to the camping place, I was so tired that I couldn’t even feel it anymore. I’d only slept 3½ hours the night before, and I’d been on the go for the entire day, so I slept like a baby the entire night, before it was time to get up and once again head to the excavation at Vasagård for more digging!
Although I’m loving my days at Vasagård, I’m also really excited for next weekend, where I’ll have even more time to explore the beautiful island of Bornholm – and hopefully the nearby islands of Christiansø and Frederiksø as well!