From Allinge & Sandvig Back to Rønne -- For our final adventure, turn south, following the signs pointing to Rønne. After less than a kilometer (1/2 mile), you'll see the rocky crags of a semiruined fortress that Bornholmers believe is the most historically significant building on the island -- the Hammershus Fortress, begun in 1255 by the archbishop of Lund (Sweden). He planned this massive fortress to reinforce his control of the island. Since then, however, the island has passed from Swedish to German to Danish hands several times; it was a strategic powerhouse controlling what was then a vitally important sea lane. The decisive moment came in 1658, when the Danish national hero Jens Kofoed murdered the Swedish governor and sailed to Denmark to present the castle (and the rest of the island) to the Danish king.
Regrettably, the fortress's dilapidated condition was caused by later architects, who used it as a rock quarry to supply the stone used to construct some of the buildings and streets (including Hovedvagten) of Rønne, as well as several of the structures on Christiansø, the tiny island 11km (6 3/4 miles) northeast of Bornholm. The systematic destruction of the fortress ended in 1822, when it was "redefined" as a Danish national treasure. Much of the work that restored the fortress to the eerily jagged condition you'll see today was completed in 1967. Hammershus escaped the fate of the second-most-powerful fortress on the island, Lilleborg. Set deep in Bornholm's forests, Lilleborg was gradually stripped of its stones for other buildings, after its medieval defenses became obsolete.
Some 4km (2 1/2 miles) south of Hammershus -- still on the coastal road heading back to Rønne -- is a geological oddity called Jons Kapel (Jon's Chapel); it can be seen by anyone who'd like to take a short hike (less than 1km/ 1/2 mile) from the highway. Basically it's a rocky bluff with a panoramic view over the island's western coast, where, according to ancient legend, an agile but reclusive hermit, Brother Jon, preached to the seagulls and crashing surf below. For those who would like to enjoy a panoramic view, signs point the way from the highway.
From here, continue driving southward another 13km (8 miles) to Rønne, passing through the hamlet of Hasle en route. And so ends our discovery of the island. If you followed us all the way, you've seen the best of Bornholm.
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