Svaneke - atmosphere and initiative
Watch out! Svaneke is a town which grows on you – you might end up wanting to make it your home. Even if it may be true that Svaneke with its 1200 inhabitants is the smallest chartered market town in Denmark, it is still chockfull of friendliness, charm, history, interesting shops and even more interesting people.
In 1975 the town received the Council of Europe’s gold medal for its determination in preserving the historic character of a small harbor town – and the award was well-deserved. With its many carefully restored old houses, Svaneke is a kind of open-air museum, but not of the fusty kind. Because despite the old-world charm, Svaneke is a place where things happen. This is the home of the island’s only brewery, Svaneke Bryghus, and the operating centre of Pernille Bülow, one of the pioneers of the extensive Bornholm glass adventure. Prize-worthy boiled sweets, liquorices, chocolate, ice cream, toffee and art in all manifestations are produced here.
East Bornholm’s cultural centre is located in one of Svaneke’s many old merchant houses. The house accommodates a small intimate theatre auditorium, exhibition premises, a workshop for handicraft artists and an artists’ refuge. It is a living centre for art and culture of a professional high level, created by the many volunteer forces and benevolent foundations. Visit Svanekegaarden just for the architecture and atmosphere or to participate in concerts, lectures, theatre performances, exhibitions or workshops. In the house and garden there are sculptures by the Bornholm artists Ole Christensen and Arne Ranslet. For additional information, www.svanekegaarden.dk
The Marketplace (Torvet) is also a favourite rendezvous, with a market every Saturday and Wednesday during the summer and trips round the town with a horse-drawn tram. Or there is Siemsens Gård, nowadays a hotel and restaurant with a view over the harbour and Baltic. The hotel has always played a central role in life around the harbour, which in 2010 and 2011 received the Blue Flag to mark its environmental friendly status. Next to Siemens Gaard lies the old Hotel Østersøen. This fine building now houses holiday flats, but it dates right back to 1600, and is haunted by a female ghost called Emma.
Many people also visit Svaneke Smokehouse in Fiskergade, with its five high chimneys known as the Five Sisters. On the way you will pass the childhood home of painter Oluf Høst, and right by the smokehouse you can inspect the old rampart, still with its cannons. Just north of the smokehouse is the pretty little harbour of Vigehavn, the start of the no less pretty walk to Listed. You are also close to Svaneke’s landmark, the three-legged water tower designed by Jørn Utzon. At the other end of town is Svaneke’s pink washed church, where you can see a rare font made of turned oak wood. And while you’re in the south-east part of town, make a brief visit to Svaneke Lighthouse and the nearby Hullehavn harbour, where there is tennis courts and excellent swimming.