Top Historic Sights in Hamina, Finland

Explore the historic highlights of Hamina

St. John's Church

The St. John's Church in the Hamina city centre was built in 1841-1843. It was designed by famous architect Carl Ludvig Engel and represents the Neoclassicism style with strong influence of Greece temples.Before the present church there was a church of Ulrika Eleanora (built in 1732, destroyed by fire in 1742) and the commandant’s house. The residence of the fortress commander was the place where the Russian ne ...
Founded: 1841-1843 | Location: Hamina, Finland

Town Hall

The Town Hall is literally the center of Hamina city. It’s located at the center of eight radial streets. The original hall was built in 1798, but it has been destroyed by two separate town fires. The current empire-style building was built in the 1840s according the design of famous architect C. L. Engel.Today, the Town Hall serves as offices for the town’s central administration.
Founded: 1840s | Location: Hamina, Finland

Hamina Fortress

Hamina fortress is a very rare circle fort, representing the Renaissance ideal city embodied by Palmanova city in Italy. It was built after Great Northern War to the ruins of Vehkalahti town. After Treaty of Nystadt border between Sweden and Russia was moved to Kymeenlakso area in Finland. The construction of the fortress started began by Swedish general Axel von Löwen in 1720s. Protected by six bastions of the fort ...
Founded: 1720-1803 | Location: Hamina, Finland

The Church of Peter and Paul

The Orthodox church of Hamina (The Church of Peter and Paul) was erected in 1832-37 on the place of burned Lutheran church. It was designed by Frenchman Louis Visconti whose most famous work is the tomb of Napoleon in Hôtel des Invalides.The round-domed church was built in the Neoclassicism style with Byzantine features. There is a holy icon with St.Peter and Paul which was transferred to Hamina from Vyborg in 1742.
Founded: 1832-1837 | Location: Hamina, Finland

St. Mary's Church

The Vehkalahti Church (today known as the St. Mary's Church) was built in the 14th century at the place were the town of Hamina is now. The history of Vehkalahti churches begins in 1396, when the first mention of town was written to a letter by Vyborg castle lord. The present stone church was built probably between 1430 and 1470. Because of it's location near the Russian border it was robbed and burned twice in wars duri ...
Founded: 1430-1470 | Location: Hamina, Finland

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Porta Nigra

The Porta Nigra (Latin for black gate) is the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps. It is designated as part of the Roman Monuments, Cathedral of St. Peter and Church of Our Lady in Trier UNESCO World Heritage Site. The name Porta Nigra originated in the Middle Ages due to the darkened colour of its stone; the original Roman name has not been preserved. Locals commonly refer to the Porta Nigra simply as Porta.

The Porta Nigra was built in grey sandstone between 186 and 200 AD. The original gate consisted of two four-storied towers, projecting as near semicircles on the outer side. A narrow courtyard separated the two gate openings on either side. For unknown reasons, however, the construction of the gate remained unfinished. For example, the stones at the northern (outer) side of the gate were never abraded, and the protruding stones would have made it impossible to install movable gates. Nonetheless, the gate was used for several centuries until the end of the Roman era in Trier.

In Roman times, the Porta Nigra was part of a system of four city gates, one of which stood at each side of the roughly rectangular Roman city. The Porta Nigra guarded the northern entry to the Roman city, while the Porta Alba (White Gate) was built in the east, the Porta Media (Middle Gate) in the south, and the Porta Inclyta (Famous Gate) in the west, next to the Roman bridge across the Moselle. The gates stood at the ends of the two main streets of the Roman Trier, one of which led north-south and the other east-west. Of these gates, only the Porta Nigra still exists today.

In the early Middle Ages the Roman city gates were no longer used for their original function and their stones were taken and reused for other buildings. Also iron and lead braces were broken out of the walls of the Porta Nigra for reuse. Traces of this destruction are still clearly visible on the north side of the gate.

After 1028, the Greek monk Simeon lived as a hermit in the ruins of the Porta Nigra. After his death (1035) and sanctification, the Simeonstift monastery was built next to the Porta Nigra to honor him. Saving it from further destruction, the Porta Nigra was transformed into a church: The inner court of the gate was roofed and intermediate ceilings were inserted. The two middle storeys of the former gate were converted into church naves: the upper storey being for the monks and the lower storey for the general public. The ground floor with the large gates was sealed, and a large outside staircase was constructed alongside the south side (the town side) of the gate, up to the lower storey of the church. A small staircase led further up to the upper storey. The church rooms were accessible through former windows of the western tower of the Porta Nigra that were enlarged to become entrance doors (still visible today). The top floor of the western tower was used as church tower, the eastern tower was leveled, and an apse added at its east side. An additional gate - the much smaller Simeon Gate - was built adjacent to the East side of the Porta Nigra and served as a city gate in medieval times.

In 1802 Napoleon Bonaparte dissolved the church in the Porta Nigra and the monastery beside it, along with the vast majority of Trier"s numerous churches and monasteries. On his visit to Trier in 1804, Napoleon ordered that the Porta Nigra be converted back to its Roman form. Only the apse was kept; but the eastern tower was not rebuilt to its original height. Local legend has it that Napoleon originally wanted to completely tear down the church, but locals convinced him that the church had actually been a Gaulish festival hall before being turned into a church. Another version of the story is that they told him about its Roman origins, persuading him to convert the gate back to its original form.

In 1986 the Porta Nigra was designated a World Heritage Site, along with other Roman monuments in Trier and its surroundings. The modern appearance of the Porta Nigra goes back almost unchanged to the reconstruction ordered by Napoleon. At the south side of the Porta Nigra, remains of Roman columns line the last 100 m of the street leading to the gate. Positioned where they had stood in Roman times, they give a slight impression of the aspect of the original Roman street that was lined with colonnades. The Porta Nigra, including the upper floors, is open to visitors.