The purpose of this guide is to take you through the streets of Rønne to some of the major and minor sights of interest our town has to offer. Rønne is the “capital” of Bornholm, and much of the island’s history is visible in the town’s history. Rønne grew up around a fine natural harbour area in 12th and 13th centuries of the Middle Ages.
The church was built on a bluff above the beach with a fine view of one the island’s best seaward approaches. For centuries the church has served as a landmark for many ships on their way into port. Agriculture, trade and shipping were decisive for the local economy, as they were throughout Denmark. Ships called at the island to take on provisions and water – and to trade.
The number of registered ships grew, especially in the 1700s and 1800s; local goods, primarily agricultural products, pottery and local handicrafts, were the items of trade. The lively trade brought prosperity to the island, attested to today by buildings all over the island. In the last half of the 1800s, Bornholm’s mining, quarrying and extraction industry was booming.
Up to the last half of the 1900s, sandstone, granite, clay, kaolin, cement and other products brought prosperity to the people of Bornholm. The importance of fishery to the island increased after 1900. By 2000, however, the extraction and fishery industries had seriously declined. The remaining economic “locomotives” are agriculture and tourism, as well as various niche enterprises.
A walk through Rønne will reveal a town shaped by the events of the 1800s, primarily in the form of low, one-storey houses, large merchants’ and shipmasters’ houses for the town’s affluent citizenry and tiny three or four-bayed, half-timbered and brick-built houses for the town’s numerous artisans, fishermen and labourers. The original business districts are found around Store Torv (Big Square) and Lille Torv (Little Square) and along the streets Torvegade and Store Torvegade.