Last Friday, the four of us left off work a bit early, as we wanted to catch the last boat to take us along the famous Helligdomsklipperne, and afterwards pay a visit to Bornholm’s Medieval Center and the round church in Østerlars.
We first drove to Gudhjem, from where we would catch the boat to the cliffs.
Gudhjem is a small town on the northeastern coast of Bornholm, famous for its red roofs, quaint streets and local boutiques. Gudhjem was founded in the 14th century during the Medieval period, and is the oldest town on the island. It has a population of only 720 people, but that number is almost doubled during the summer months, where the town is a true tourist magnet.
Gudhjem is nestled beneath the “mountain” Bokul, which stands above the town at 48 metres above sea level, and thus is the only so-called “mountain town” in Denmark.
From the harbour in Gudhjem, one can catch a tiny boat that sails along the rocky coastline to Helligdomsklipperne (The Sanctuary Cliffs). The boat only leaves a few times each day, and we were lucky to catch the last departure from Gudhjem.
Helligdomsklipperne are a group of sharp granite coastal cliffs at up to 22 metres high. The origins of the rocks go back 1700 million years, when they were formed by striped gneiss. 10.000 years ago, the rocks were completely submerged due to the rising sea levels since the last ice age, so many of the varying depths in the cliffs are a result of water erosion, such as Den Sorte Gryde (Blact Pot), a cave that reaches far into the cliffs.
The name of the rocks originates from the Medieval period, when there was a holy spring located close to the cliffs, which attracted pilgrims. The holy water from the spring was brought up to a chapel that once stood on the field above the cliffs. The sick would then drink the holy water in the hopes of being cured.
The boat trip took just over an hour and gave us views of some of the most beautiful cliff formations, while the captain told us about the area and its many archaeological gems.
When we arrived back in Gudhjem, we drove to Bornholm’s Medieval Center where Lula and I got dropped off. Bornholm’s Medieval Center is an open air museum, similar to the Land of Legends where I work.
The Medieval Center offers impressions of the daily life in the countryside from around 1350-1450, and includes reconstructions of Medieval cottages, a watermill, a forge, an archery range and a fortress.
We didn’t have long to explore the place, as it would close only 1,5 hours later, but we got to see and talk to a few people in medieval dress and experience a few craftsmen at work. We also got to meet Klaus Thorsen, an amateur archaeologist, who is behind many of the most interesting and rich archaeological sites on Bornholm.
One kilometer from Bornholm’s Medieval Center lies one of my favourite historical sights on Bornholm, Østerlars Church, a round church from around 1160. Østerlars Church is the largest and oldest of the four round churches on Bornholm, and is also one of the oldest Romanesque churches in Denmark.
We arrived there just 10 minutes before it closed, so we had a quick look inside to see the biblical frescos from the 14th century and climbed the staircase to the top storeys, where info boards told us about the history of the church and the surrounding area, where Klaus Thorsen has done many interesting finds over the years.
It was a day with many different experiences on the itinerary, but one thing tied them together – they all had something to do with the Medieval period! Gudhjem was founded in the 14th century, the name of Helligdomsklipperne originates from the Medieval period, Bornholm’s Medieval Center is all about the Medieval period, and Østerlars Church was built in the 12th century!
This was the first day of a weekend FULL of sightseeing. Stay tuned for many more stories of my adventures here on Bornholm!