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The pea island Christiansoe near Bornholm
The post boat takes you from Sandvig-Allinge, Gudhjem or Svaneke to the pea islands Christiansø and Frederiksø. The easternmost outpost of the Danish kingdom with historical fortifications from the 17th century such as Lille and Store Tårn, commanders ‘and soldiers’ houses and the cholera prison make for an entertaining detour. The lucky ones can go on vacation here.
Where time stands still
In Danish the pea islands are called “Ertholmene”. Christiansø and Frederiksø are the two main inhabited islands, which are connected by a narrow suspension bridge.
The archipelago also includes Græsholmen, a protected bird reserve, and six other smaller rocks. Together they form an archipelago group of islands. It is completely protected and the buildings here are all listed. The pea islands are about 18 kilometers away in the northeast of the Baltic Sea island of Bornholm.
Until 1685 the two main islands were called Kirkholm and Boholm. Then it was called Ærtholme and because “ært” is the Danish word for “pea”, it became Ertholmene. The main island Christiansø has an area of 25 hectares, Frederiksø is about 4 hectares: Also because they are so tiny, they are called pea islands in German.
You can visit them from Bornholm with the mail boat “Peter”, which supplies the 92 residents of Christiansø and Frederiksø with their daily needs.
The history of the pea islands
In the centuries before 1684, Christiansø served the Bornholm fishermen as autumn quarters during their herring fishery. After the “Peace of Roskilde” in 1658, Denmark had to surrender to the Swedish Crown because of the lost war because of its estates east of the Øresund. Because the territory of the Danes in the Baltic Sea area had shifted considerably, in 1684 the Danish king Christian V decided to build a fortress on the Pea Islands, which served as a port for the Danish fleet. The pea islands were also available as a safe haven for Danish merchant ships. All towers and bastions are well preserved to this day. In 1805 Denmark’s first mirror beacon was installed in the great tower, St. Tårn.
Until 1855, the Ertholmene were the naval base and prison of the Danish Crown and the small islands are still under the control of the Royal Danish Ministry of Defense. After 1863, apartments were set up in the barracks for the former soldiers. They lived as fishermen and so the civil island community was founded. Various artists have also settled on the idyllic pea islands over the years.
Those who land here by post ship usually have around three hours to visit the pea islands. The islands are completely free from car traffic – there is only one tractor. The iron bridge between Christiansø and Frederiksø is only approved for passenger traffic anyway.
However, there is a campsite on the pea islands. It is located on the Hertugindens Bastion and offers only 20 much sought-after tent sites. On Christiansø there is a kro with 6 double rooms, a grocery store and a kiosk. On Frederiksø there is a museum in Lilletårn and two herb herring factories.
There are many very small islands among the hundreds of Danish islands. They are all idyllic and “hyggelig”, the unmistakably Danish synonym for slowing down, is life there.
The pea islands in the wide Baltic Sea have their very own, special character: Here you can enjoy serenity and peace, solitude, relaxation and pure nature.