Top Historic Sights in Hämeenlinna, Finland

Explore the historic highlights of Hämeenlinna

Häme Castle

The medieval castle of Häme is located on the coast of lake Vanajavesi. It was originally located on an island.The castle's age is disputed. Traditionally the construction of the castle has been connected to the legendary Second Swedish Crusade which would date the castle in the mid-13th century. However, there are no finds from the castle that can be firmly dated to a period earlier than 1320s. Also the contents of the ...
Founded: ca. 1250-1300 | Location: Hämeenlinna, Finland

Prison Museum

The prison museum introduces to the visitors the history of correctional treatment in Finland and the prison life in the past and these days. The most valuable item is the museum building itself with its authentic premises that have been maintained in their original condition since the time when the building still functioned as a prison. The building and the exhibition consist of three floors.The prison museum functions i ...
Founded: 1871 | Location: Hämeenlinna, Finland

Hämeenlinna Church

Hämeenlinna Church was built in 1798 as a rotunda modelled on the Pantheon in Rome. It is designed by Frenchman L. J. Desprez, the court architect of Sweden. The altar stood in the middle of the amphitheatre-shaped church, and the pulpit was above the sacristy door. Hämeenlinna church is one of the best samples of so-called Gustavian classism style in Finland.
Founded: 1792–1798 | Location: Hämeenlinna, Finland

Armoured Vehicle Museum

Parola Tank Museum, officially Armoured Vehicle Museum displays various tanks, armoured vehicles and anti-tank guns used by the Finnish Defence Forces throughout its history. A rare exhibit is an armoured train used in World War Two. A few kilometers away from the museum is also the Armoured Brigade. The museum was opened June 18, 1961, when there were 19 tanks and 12 anti-tank guns on display. Also Leopard 2A4, the lates ...
Founded: opened 1961 | Location: Hämeenlinna, Finland

The Artillery Museum of Finland

The Artillery Museum of Finland is a special military museum dedicated to the history of the artillery from the 15th century to the present day. It was located in Niinisalo from 1977 to 1997 and in 1997 relocated to Hämeenlinna.There are almost a hundred guns, grenade launchers and rocket launchers of different make from 13 different countries. The gun collection of the museum is unique, the most comprehensive in the Sca ...
Founded: 1850-1913 | Location: Hämeenlinna, Finland

Vanajanlinna

The history of the original estate of Vanajanlinna, Äikäälä, goes back to the Middle Ages. Historical records mention Olle af Aeykaelum (Olli of Äikäälä) as the owner of the Äikäälä estate in 1374. After him the farm has had many owners and a colourful history as a freehold and holding farm used for agriculture.The actual history of Vanajalinna begins from the year 1918, when the industrialist Carl Wilhelm Ros ...
Founded: 1924 | Location: Hämeenlinna, Finland

Vanaja Church

The Church of Vanaja is one of the smallest medieval churches in Finland. It was built probably between 1490-1510. Vanaja is one of the oldest parishes in Häme and it's quite probable there have been couple of wooden churches before the present one. There are many beautiful details and decorations inside the church, for example an exterior pulpit in stone wall and arm paintings of two noble families.
Founded: 1490-1510 | Location: Hämeenlinna, Finland

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Abbey of Saint-Étienne

The Abbey of Saint-Etienne, also known as Abbaye aux Hommes ('Men"s Abbey'), is a former monastery dedicated to Saint Stephen (Saint Étienne). It is considered, along with the neighbouring Abbaye aux Dames ('Ladies" Abbey'), to be one of the most notable Romanesque buildings in Normandy. Like all the major abbeys in Normandy, it was Benedictine.

Lanfranc, before being an Archbishop of Canterbury, was abbot of Saint-Etienne. Built in Caen stone during the 11th century, the two semi-completed churches stood for many decades in competition. An important feature added to both churches in about 1120 was the ribbed vault, used for the first time in France. The two abbey churches are considered forerunners of the Gothic architecture. The original Romanesque apse was replaced in 1166 by an early Gothic chevet, complete with rosette windows and flying buttresses. Nine towers and spires were added in the 13th century. The interior vaulting shows a similar progression, beginning with early sexpartite vaulting (using circular ribs) in the nave and progressing to quadipartite vaults (using pointed ribs) in the sanctuary.

The two monasteries were finally donated by William the Conqueror and his wife, Matilda of Flanders, as penalty for their marriage against the Pope"s ruling. William was buried here; Matilda was buried in the Abbaye aux Dames. Unfortunately William"s original tombstone of black marble, the same kind as Matilda"s in the Abbaye aux Dames, was destroyed by the Calvinist iconoclasts in the 16th century and his bones scattered.

As a consequence of the Wars of Religion, the high lantern tower in the middle of the church collapsed and was never rebuilt. The Benedictine abbey was suppressed during the French Revolution and the abbey church became a parish church. From 1804 to 1961, the abbey buildings accommodated a prestigious high school, the Lycée Malherbe. During the Normandy Landings in 1944, inhabitants of Caen found refuge in the church; on the rooftop there was a red cross, made with blood on a sheet, to show that it was a hospital (to avoid bombings).