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Bornholm Regional Municipality

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Bornholm Regional Municipality

For other uses, see Bornholm (disambiguation).

Bornholm's picturesque coastline
Location Baltic Sea

55°07′30″N 14°55′00″E / 55.12500°N 14.91667°E / 55.12500; 14.91667Coordinates: 55°07′30″N 14°55′00″E / 55.12500°N 14.91667°E / 55.12500; 14.91667

Area 588 km2 (227 sq mi)
Highest elevation 162 m (531 ft)
Highest point Rytterknægten
Region Capital Region of Denmark
Municipality Bornholm Municipality
Largest city Rønne (pop. 13,924)
Population 41,303 (as of 2012)
Density 70.2 /km2 (181.8 /sq mi)

Bornholm ([bɒːnˈhʌlˀm]; Old Norse: Burgundaholmr, "the island of the Burgundians") is a Danish island in the Baltic Sea, to the east of most of Denmark, south of Sweden, and north of Poland. The main industries on the island include fishing, arts and crafts such as glass making and pottery using locally worked clay, and dairy farming. Tourism is important during the summer. The topography of the island consists of dramatic rock formations in the north (unlike the rest of Denmark which is mostly gentle rolling hills) sloping down towards pine and deciduous forests (greatly damaged by storms in the 1950s) and farmland in the middle and sandy beaches in the south.[1]

Bornholm Regional Municipality covers the entire island. Bornholm was one of the three last Danish municipalities (Danish: kommune) not belonging to a county— the others were Copenhagen and Frederiksberg. On 1 January 2007, the municipality lost its short-lived (2003 to 2006) county status and became part of Region Hovedstaden (the Copenhagen Capital Region).

The small Ertholmene islands are located 18 km (11 mi) to the northeast of Bornholm. They belong neither to a municipality nor to a region but are administered by the Ministry of Defence.

Strategically located in the Baltic Sea, Bornholm has been fought over for centuries. It has usually been ruled by Denmark, but also by Lübeck and Sweden. The Hammershus castle ruin, at the northwestern tip of the island, is the largest medieval fortress in northern Europe, testament to the importance of its location.


Main article: Bornholmsk

Many inhabitants speak bornholmsk (Bornholmian), which is officially a dialect of Danish.[2] Bornholmsk retains three grammatical genders, like Icelandic and most dialects of Norwegian, but unlike standard Danish. Its phonology includes archaisms (unstressed [a] and internal [d̥, ɡ̊], where other dialects have [ə] and [ð̞, ʊ / ɪ]) and innovations ([tɕ, dʝ] for [kʰ, ɡ̊] before and after front-tongue vowels). This makes the dialect difficult to understand for some Danish speakers. However, Swedish speakers often consider Bornholmian to be easier to understand than standard Danish. The intonation resembles the Scanian dialects spoken in the nearby Skåne, the southernmost province of Sweden.


Bornholm Regional Municipality is the local authority (Danish, kommune) covering the entire island. It comprises the five former (1 April 1970 until 2002) municipalities on the island (Allinge-Gudhjem, Hasle, Nexø, Rønne and Aakirkeby) and the former Bornholm County. The island had 22 municipalities until March 1970, of which 6 were market towns and 16 parishes. The market town municipalities were supervised by the county and not by the Interior Ministry as was the case in the rest of Denmark. The seat of the municipal council is the island's main town, Rønne. The first regional mayor was Thomas Thors, from the same political party as the contemporary mayor of Bornholm. The mayor as of 2013 is Winni Grosbøll, a member of the Social Democrats (Socialdemokraterne) political party.

Ferry services connect Rønne to Świnoujście (Poland), Sassnitz (Germany), Køge (near Copenhagen, Denmark); and catamaran services to Ystad (Sweden). Simrishamn (Sweden) has a ferry connection during the summer. There are also regular catamaran services between Nexø and the Polish ports of Kołobrzeg, Łeba and Ustka. There are direct train and bus connections Ystad-Copenhagen, coordinated with the catamaran. There are also flights from Bornholm Airport to Copenhagen and other locations.

Bornholm Regional Municipality was merged with other municipalities on 1 January 2007 in the nationwide Kommunalreformen ("The Municipal Reform" of 2007), although the island is quite far from the rest of Denmark.

Towns and villages

The larger towns on the island are located on the coast and have a harbour. There is however one exception, centrally placed Aakirkeby. The largest town is Rønne, the seat, in the southwest. The other main towns (clockwise round the island) are Hasle, Allinge-Sandvig, Gudhjem, Svaneke and Nexø.

As of 2012, the Danish statistical office gave the populations as follows:[3]

Rønne 12,887
Nexø 3,700
Aakirkeby 2,108
Hasle 1,705
Allinge-Sandvig 1,683
Svaneke 1,067
Tejn 1,002
Gudhjem 782
Snogebæk 754
Nyker 708
Klemensker 686
Muleby 552
Østermarie 470
Årsdale 463
Lobbæk 369
Østerlars 267
Balka 266
Vestermarie 260
Pedersker 251
Nylars 236
Listed 232

Other localities (with approximate populations) include Aarsballe (86), Arnager (151), Nylars (228), Olsker (67), Rutsker (64), (181), Stenseby (?) and Vang (92).


In Old Norse the island was known as Borgundarholm, and in ancient Danish especially the island's name was Borghand or Borghund; these names were related to Old Norse borg "height" and bjarg/berg "mountain, rock", as it is an island that rises high from the sea.[4] Other names known for the island include Burgendaland (9th century), Hulmo / Holmus (Adam of Bremen), Burgundehulm (1145), and Borghandæholm (14th century).[5] Alfred the Great uses the form Burgenda land.[6] Some scholars[7] believe that the Burgundians are named after Bornholm; the Burgundians were a Germanic tribe which moved west when the Western Roman Empire collapsed, and occupied and named Burgundy in France.

Bornholm formed part of the historical Lands of Denmark when the nation united out of a series of petty chiefdoms. It was originally administratively part of the province of Scania and was administered by the Scanian Law after this was codified in the 13th century. Control over the island evolved into a long-raging dispute between the See of Lund and the Danish crown culminating in several battles. The first fortress on the island was Gamleborg which was replaced by Lilleborg, built by the king in 1150. In 1149, the king accepted the transfer of three of the island's four herreder (districts) to the archbishop. In 1250, the archbishop constructed his own fortress, Hammershus. A campaign launched from it in 1259 conquered the remaining part of the island including Lilleborg. The island's status remained a matter of dispute for an additional 200 years.

Bornholm was pawned to Lübeck for 50 years starting 1525. Its first militia, Bornholms Milits, was formed in 1624.

Swedish forces conquered the island in 1645, but returned the island to Denmark in the following peace settlement. After the war in 1658, Denmark ceded the island to Sweden under the Treaty of Roskilde along with the rest of the Skåneland, Bohuslän and Trøndelag, and it was occupied by Swedish forces.

A revolt broke out the same year, culminating in Villum Clausen's shooting of the Swedish commander Johan Printzensköld on 8 December 1658.[9] Following the revolt, a deputation of islanders presented the island as a gift to King Frederick III on the condition that the island would never be ceded again. This status was confirmed in the Treaty of Copenhagen in 1660.

Swedes, notably from Småland and Skåne, immigrated to the island during the 19th century, seeking work and better conditions. Most of the migrants did not remain.

Bornholm, as a part of Denmark, was captured by Germany on April 10, 1940, and served as a lookout post and listening station during the war, as it was a part of the Eastern Front. The island's perfect central position in the Baltic Sea meant that it was an important "natural fortress" between Germany and Sweden, effectively keeping submarines and destroyers away from Nazi-occupied waters. Several concrete coastal installations were built during the war, and several coastal batteries had tremendous range. However, none of them were ever used, and only a single test shot was fired during the occupation. These remnants of Nazi rule have since fallen into disrepair and are mostly regarded today as historical curiosities. Many tourists visit the ruins each year, however, providing supplemental income to the tourist industry.

On 22 August 1943 a V-1 flying bomb (numbered V83, probably launched from a Heinkel He 111) crashed on Bornholm during a test – the warhead was a dummy made of concrete. This was photographed or sketched by the Danish Naval Officer-in-Charge on Bornholm, Lieutenant Commander Hasager Christiansen. This was the first sign British Intelligence saw of Germany's aspirations to develop flying bombs and rockets which were to become known as V-1 and V-2.

Soviet Occupation 1945–1946

Bornholm was heavily bombarded by Soviet forces in May 1945. German garrison commander Gerhard von Kamptz refused to surrender to the Soviets, as his orders were to surrender to the Western Allies. The Germans sent several telegrams to Copenhagen requesting that at least one British soldier should be transferred to Bornholm, so that the Germans could surrender to the western allied forces instead of the Russians. When von Kamptz failed to provide a written capitulation as demanded by the Soviet commanders, Soviet aircraft relentlessly bombed and destroyed more than 800 civilian houses in Rønne and Nexø and seriously damaged roughly 3,000 more on 7–8 May 1945.

During the Russian bombing of the two main towns on 7 and 8 May, Danish radio was not allowed to broadcast the news because it was thought it would spoil the liberation festivities in Denmark.[10] On 9 May Soviet troops landed on the island, and after a short fight, the German garrison (about 12,000 strong[11]) surrendered.[12] Soviet forces left the island on 5 April 1946.

After the evacuation of their forces from Bornholm, the Soviets took the position that the stationing of foreign troops on Bornholm would be considered a declaration of war against the Soviet Union, and that Denmark should keep troops on it at all times to protect it from such foreign aggression. This policy remained in force after NATO was formed, and Denmark had joined it: the Soviets accepted the stationing of Danish troops, which were part of NATO but were far from that alliance's most powerful element, but strongly objected to the presence on the island of other NATO troops, particularly of US troops.[13]

This caused diplomatic problems at least twice: once when an American helicopter landed outside the town of Svaneke due to engine problems in a NATO exercise over the Baltic Sea, and once (circa 2000) when the Bornholms Værn (Bornholm Guard) was disbanded, becoming part of the Guard Hussars. The Danish government suggested shutting down Almegårds Kaserne, the local barracks, since "the island could quickly be protected by troops from surrounding areas and has no strategic importance after the fall of the Iron Curtain".

Sights and landmarks

The island's varied geography and seascapes attract visitors to its many beauty spots from the Hammeren promontory in the northwest to the Almindingen forest in the centre and the Dueodde beaches in the southeast. Of special interest are the rocky sea cliffs at Jons Kapel and Helligdomsklipperne, the varied topography of Paradisbakkerne and rift valleys such as Ekkodalen and Døndalen.[14] Bornholm's numerous windmills include the post mill of Egeby and the well-kept Dutch mill at Aarsdale. The lighthouse at Dueodde is Denmark's tallest, while Hammeren Lighthouse stands at a height of 85 metres (279 ft) above sea level and Rønne Lighthouse rises over the waterfront.[15]

The island hosts some examples of e.g. 19th- and early-20th-century architecture, and about 300 wooden houses in Rønne and Nexø, donated by Sweden after World War II, when the island was repairing damage caused by the war. The island is home to 15 medieval churches, four of which are round churches that display unique artwork and architecture. The ancient site of Rispebjerg has remains of sun temples from the Neolithic and earthworks from the Iron Age.[16]

Famous people

The Danish painter Oluf Høst was born in Svaneke in 1884.

The Danish writer and painter Gustaf Munch-Petersen moved to Bornholm in 1935 and married Lisbeth Hjorth while living on the island.

At age 8, socialist writer Martin Andersen Nexø moved to the island, and took his last name after the city of Nexø on its east coast.

M.P. Möller (1854–1937), a pipe-organ builder and manufacturer, was born in Østermarie before moving to the United States.[17]

Gertrud Vasegaard (1913–2007), a ceramist remembered for her stoneware, was born in Rønne and established a workshop in Gudhjem.[18]

Bornholm also attracted many famous artists at the beginning of the 20th century, forming a group now known as the Bornholm school of painters. In addition to Oluf Høst, they include Karl Isaksson (1878–1922), from Sweden, and the Danes Edvard Weie (1879-1943), Olaf Rude (1886–1957), Niels Lergaard (1893–1982), and Kræsten Iversen (1886–1955).[19]

Electricity supply

Bornholm is connected to the Swedish electricity grid by a submarine 60 kV AC cable, which is among the longest AC cables in Europe. This cable is capable of delivering all the electrical energy consumed on Bornholm. However Bornholm also generates its own electricity at small thermal power plants and especially wind turbines.

Population growth


Climate data for Bornholm
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 1.9
Daily mean °C (°F) 0.1
Average low °C (°F) −1.7
Precipitation mm (inches) 51
Avg. precipitation days 11 7 9 7 7 6 8 8 9 10 12 12 103
Mean monthly sunshine hours 36 58 106 168 238 240 222 208 137 88 46 34 1,580
Source: DMI (Danmarks Meteorologiske Institut)[20]


Bornholm's geography as an island and moderate climate makes Bornholm an ideal location for sailing and other water based sports.

Bornholm has also become an internationally recognised venue for 'match racing', a sailing sport where two identical (or one design) supplied racing yachts are raced in one on one dogfights on the water. The Danish Open event was held in Bornholm in September 2010 at the port town of Ronne on the Western coast of Bornholm. The racing yachts used for the Danish Open event are Danish designed DS37 racing yachts. These highly manoeuvrable and versatile boats are also used in the Match Cup Sweden event.

The five-day Danish Open is a key event in the World Match Racing Tour calendar which is one of only 3 events awarded 'special event' status by the International Sailing Federation. The Tour is the world's leading professional 'match racing' series and features a 9 event calendar which crosses 3 continents during the series.

Points accrued during the Danish Open contribute directly to the World Match Racing Tour championship with the winner of the season finale at the Monsoon Cup in Malaysia claiming the ultimate match racing title ISAF World Match Racing Champion.

Match racing unlike other sailing sports is suited to locations like Bornholm due to the racing taking place in close proximity to the shore which provides spectacular heat of the action viewing for the on-shore audience.


Various Christian denominations have become established on the island, most during the 19th century.

Cultural references

  • A considerable part of the Second World War spy thriller Hornet Flight by Ken Follett takes place on Bornholm, depicting the island under German occupation.
  • The metalhead teen themed Megaheavy by the Danish filmmaker Fenar Ahmad is set on Bornholm in the 1980s. It won the Grand Prix at the 2010 Odense Film Festival.

http://da.World Heritage

http://da.World Heritage

See also




  1. The Island of Bornholm, a chapter in Selected Prose by Nikolai Mikhailovich Karamzin, 1969, Northwestern University Press.
  2. The Battle of Bornholm in The hidden folk: stories of fairies, dwarves, selkies, and other secret beings, by Lise Lunge-Larsen, 2004, Houghton Mifflin.
  3. The Templars' Secret Island: The Knights, the Priest, and the Treasure, 1992, by Erling Haagensen and Henry Lincoln
  4. Behind the Da Vinci Code, 2006 documentary by The History Channel
  5. Bornholm i krig 1940–1946 (Bornholm in War), Bornholm museum, 2001, ISBN 978-87-88179-49-1. Book of photos from World War II.
  6. Bent Jensen: Soviet Remote Control: the Island of Bornholm as a Relay Station in Soviet-Danish Relations, 1945–71, in Mechanisms of Power in the Soviet Union, Macmillan Press, 2000, ISBN 978-0-312-23089-0.

The Templars' Secret Island: The Knights, the Priest, and the Treasure, 1992, by Erling Haagensen and Henry Lincoln Behind the Da Vinci Code, 2006 documentary by The History Channel

Further reading

  • Outlined scanian orthography including morphology and word index. First revision.
  • Outlined scanian orthography including morphology and word index.

External links

  • Municipality's official website (Dansk+Deutsch+English)
  • Turistguide Bornholm (Dansk+Deutsch+English)
  • Bornholm in pictures
  • Krak searchable/printable municipality map(Danish)
  • Bornholm Map and Web Index
  • Bornholm's Museum (Dansk+Deutsch+English+Polski)
  • Municipal statistics: KMD aka Kommunedata (Municipal Data) (Danish)
  • Bornholm (Polish)
  • Frit Bårrijnhålm / Free Bornhom (Bornholmian+Danish+English)

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