When it comes to Finland, you may imagine tundra, lush green forests, and rural log cabins. Europe is also known for its several beautiful castles in Finland. They feel like they just came out of fairy tales. But they also played vital roles in the history of Finland.
Do you love visiting castles and various historical landmarks? Finland is indeed a lovely country. It is tough to imagine getting there without visiting these castles. The nature of buildings is much like the people of Finland here – practical and sensible. We all love to visit beautiful palaces with beautiful walls and chandeliers. But castles in Finland are refreshingly beautiful and somehow different.
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Table of Contents
Here’s the list of the castles in Finland
St. Olaf’s Castle
Also known as Olavinlinna, St. Olaf’s Castle is a 3-tower castle built in the 15th century positioned in Savonlinna, Finland. It is a medieval stone fortress that is still standing proudly on the island of Kyrönsalmi strait, connecting the Pihlajavesi and Haukivesi lakes.
The castle hosts a lot of exhibitions, including the Castle Museum which showcases artifacts in the palace and the Orthodox Museum which displays icons and objects both from Russia and Finland. The castle also hosts an excellent stage for Savonlinna Opera Festival held every year in summer since the year 1912.
Olavinlinna is the initial model in the comic King Ottokar’s Sceptre for Kropow Castle. It was an album in Adventures of Tintin series by Herge. This castle survived a lot of sieges by the Russians during the Second and First Russian-Swedish wars. A brisk trade was developed under the castle by the end of the 16th century, and it gave birth to Savonlinna town chartered in the year 1639.
The garrison capitulated on July 28, 1714, to the Russian invaders and they took over the castle in 1743 in just two days, in the events taking up to the Treaty of Abo in which the whole region was awarded to Empress Elizabeth in Russia.
Turku Castle is a medieval castle located in the city of Turku. With Turku Cathedral, the palace is among the oldest complexes which have still been used in Finland. It is the largest medieval complex surviving in Finland. It was founded in the late 13th century, and it stands on the Aura River banks.
A start on building the castle was made around 1280. It was intended initially by the Swedish conquerors of Finland as a military fortress. Its living quarters were added, and defenses were strengthened during the next two centuries.
The castle served as an administrative hub and bastion in Eastland. Finland was well known as a Swedish province. The central aspect of this castle was extended well during the 16th century when Gustav Vasa climbed the throne of Sweden and John, his son, headed the administration of Finland after his promotion to the duke.
The round tower of the bailey at the southeast corner was added, and the bailey was supplemented well. Since then, nothing has been extended or added at the castle, somewhat just repaired.
The castle was ruled by the castle sheriff, regent, commander, duke or governor-general in various stages. It was an administrative center and defensive fortress, and its significance varied across the ages as per the political circumstances. In defense of the realm, the castle fell only once.
It happened when invaders from Russia destroyed Turku from Novgorod in the year 1318. It frequently played a vital role in initial struggles for power in the Kalmar Union and Sweden.
Tavastia Castle or Häme Castle is a medieval fortress in Hämeenlinna. It was initially positioned on an island, and it now sits on the Coast of Vanajavesi Lake. The castle has surrounding curtain walls, and central keep covered by a moat.
Initially, the keep had five turrets, but only two of them are apparent these days. The curtain wall consists of battlements, a gatehouse, around the gun turret, and an octagonal brick corner turret. The lower tiers of the curtain wall and the keep are made of masoned granite, and there is red brickwork in the upper layers.
Even though the actual date is not precise, the castle is known to have been built in the 13th century. Along with its status for being a military fortress and home to the nobility of Sweden, the castle has been used as a prison, and the Finnish National Board of Antiquities operates a museum here.
It is among the major tourist attractions in the southern part of Finland as a center of attraction for the city and the hottest venue of events like renaissance fairs.
The age of the castle is confusing. The construction has traditionally been connected to the Second Swedish Crusade of Birger Jarl which would date castle in the middle of the 13th century. There is still a lack of archeological researches from the palace which can be dated firmly to a period earlier than the 1320s.
Related read: Top Attractions and Things to do in Tampere (Finland)
Located on an islands’ group opposite Helsinki, Suomenlinna was built as a maritime fortress during the Swedish era and a base for Archipelago Fleet. In 1748, the construction of this fortress started.
Declared UNESCO World Heritage Site, Suomenlinna is one of the most well-known tourist attractions in Finland. No entry fee is charged for visitors. You merely have to pay for a ferry.
It is also known as a borough of Helsinki. The main attractions are located on the blue route running across the fortress. The best way to get more insight into this fortress is a guided tour. It also consists of six amazing museums.
The Swedish Crown started the construction work in the year 1748 for protection against the expansionism of Russia. For the fortification work, the general responsibility was assigned to Augustin Ehrensvärd.
The initial plan of bastion fortress was influenced strongly by the concepts of Vauban, the leading military engineer of the era and the ideas of star fort fortification style, even though it is adapted by rocky islands.
Along with the island fortress, the seafront fortifications would protect the fort on the mainland. The plan was to keep the stock of munitions for the whole contingent of Finland of the Royal Swedish Navy and Swedish Army there. Russia defeated the fortress, and this paved the way for the occupation of Finland in 1809 by Russian forces.
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Kastelholm Castle is a medieval castle built by Swedish and is located opposite Road 2 in Sund, Åland, around 25km northeast of Mariehamn, facing a fjord to the south of Kastelholm village.
Apart from Olavinilinna in Savonlinna, Hämeenlinna, Turku, and Raasepori, Kastelholm Castle is one of the five Finnish medieval fortresses which have survived since the 14th century.
It was initially built on a small island covered by moats filled with water and planted with various poles. The castle has been enjoying great value to consolidate Swedish authority across the Baltic over the past centuries, with many monarchs parading across the history.
Initially, it was damaged in the civil war in 1599 when it fell under the rule of Charles IX and rebuilt by the year 1631. It was ruined and gutted in the year 1745.
It was used partially as the granary in the 1930s. Since then, it has been restored and is a prominent tourist attraction.
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Located in Raseborg, Finland, the Raseborg Castle is a medieval castle that was founded by the successor of Albert of Riga, the Hermann of Dorpat and Livonian Bros of the Sword followed by Livonian Crusade.
The palace was named Ratzeburg castle after Bishopric of Ratzeburg. It is also supposed to be established by Bo Jonsson Grip and believed that the first phase of the castle was finished sometime around 1373 to 1378.
The write-up regarding the castle may be from 1378. It was mainly built to protect the interests of Sweden in the southern part of Finland against the city of Tallinn, the Hanseatic. Initially, the castle was built on a little island in the north of the sea bay. According to the historians, the palace was constructed in three stages from the 14th to the 16th century.
The castle was designed so well that its layout resembles capital “D” with a thick-walled, curved donjon on the corner and straight part that forms the inner bailey, and the keep in the center. It has external walls to create two outer baileys. It has a barbican and one square tower.
The remains of the outer wall still do exist. As per the historians, the external wall was developed to preserve the base of the castle. When the artillery was regularly used, it was essential to protect the walls of the castle.
Outside the palace, there was also one more layer of protection. There was further a barrier made of wood, which covered the castle and it prevented external ships to reach the harbor of the castle.
You can still witness some small parts of the barrier. Today, the barriers are found on the mainland. They were positioned on a peninsula in the 15th century. The sea level gets lower because of a post-glacial rebound over time, and it became tough to approach the castle through waterways.
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This fortress was constructed around 1749 to 1764 near Loviisa by Augustin Ehresvard in the southern part of Finland. Located around the Bay of Loviisa, the Svartholm Fortress was built to avoid invaders from Russia, and it was a Swedish territory in Finland.
After the defeat of Swedish in the Russo Swedish War (1741-1743) and the Great Northern War, there was a great need to build fortifications to protect both the coast of Finland and the border.
Degerby was considered to be the ideal location for the fortification of the border by 1745, and a base for naval forces and the main base of operations at Svartholm was needed to be developed to protect the coast.
It is a sea fortress also known as the Fort of Glory in Kotka, Finland. It was constructed in 1792-1794 on an island, and it belongs to a chain of fortresses to protect Ruotsinsalmi which is called Kotka currently.
The Kukouri Island has enlarged artificially. During the Crimean War in the year 1855, the fortress was diminished by the British but has been restored partly, and one can still get there by ferry during summers. It is the outermost of fortifications and the most separated part of Ruotsinsalmi chain of fortresses on the Kukouri Island.
Formed by a sand ridge, this small island was extended by stone and earth filling. Fort Slava is a beautifully curved fortress having 44 heavy guns. Every other vault accommodated space on the side of the inner court. The fort was partly destroyed by war, and it has now been covered well.
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Kärnäkoski Fortress is one of the best castles in Finland for several reasons. It was a part of the fortification system of South-Eastern Finland constructed to secure the area of St. Petersburg, Russian Empire capital.
Three fortress chains were built to protect the city. This fortress was raised to defend over the land-based attack against the isthmus between the Gulf of Finland, Saimaa lake and to protect the Russian Saimaa fleet.
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Located on the Gulf of Finland, Hamina Fortress is a prominent part of Hamina City Centre. It is a Star fort which is the symbol of the ideal city from the Renaissance embodied in northeastern Italy.
The fortress was used as a market of Vehkalahti, which has got city rights in the year 1653 under Vehkalahden Uusikaupunki.
It was destroyed in 1712 in the Great Northern War. Axel von Lowen, Swedish general, started construction of the fortress in the early 1720s after the Treaty of Nystadt. He built the fortress to protect against the Russian invasion into the Gulf of Finland.
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