Oesterlars Round Church

Østerlars Rundkirke or Oesterlars Round Church is the largest of Bornholm's four round churches.

Østerlars Rundkirke seen from the main entrance

Østerlars Rundkirke was built around 1150 AD in answer to two needs: a church for the locals and a fortress to give the locals a sanctuary and defence from the pirates and robbers that were numerous and very active in attacking Bornholm.

An overview of Østerlars Rundkirke from inside the wall

A round church on Bornholm has two layers - the outer fortress or defensive layer and the inner church or religious layer. However, the two layers were not entirely separate - in the religious layer people would pray for divine protection from the attackers.

A closer look at the Oesterlars Round Church itself

The outside supporting pillars were added in 14th and 15th century to support the granite boulders that make up the main wall.

A closeup of the wall and roof of the Oesterlars Rundkirke

The round church is not a passive defence fortress. Archers would be positioned in the windows and shoot arrows at the attackers. The round ship is 3 floors high and one floor is the access to the arrow slits. Note the small wooden roof tiles from the 17th century.

The Oesterlars Round Church with its newer apsis to the East

Østerlars Rundkirke is located about 6 kilometers South of Gudhjem on the East coast of Bornholm, close to the Kobbeå stream. This is an advantage because it gives easy access to water, but a disadvantage because it's an easy path for attackers to follow from the coast up to the church.

The Oesterlars Round Church and belltower seen from Northwest

The square tower next to the round church is the belltower, housing two bells that were cast in Lübeck, Germany in 1640 and 1684.


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