Fortresses in Finland

Suomenlinna

Suomenlinna ("Sveaborg", "Viapori") sea fortress is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of Finland’s most popular tourist attractions. The construction of the fortress started by the king of Sweden in 1748 as protection against Russian expansionism. Suomenlinna was planned to be a principal base for naval military operations and the general responsibility for the fortification work was given to Augustin Ehrensvärd. Th ...
Founded: 1748-1917 | Location: Helsinki, Finland

Lappeenranta Fortress

There have been some fortifications in Lappeenranta city from the 17th century. After the defeat of Sweden-Finland in Great Northern War 1700-1721 Viborg castle and large areas in Carelia were lost to Russia. The military value of Lappeenranta, the new border city, was suddenly increased. The construction of the new bastion fortress was started immediatelly after war in 1721. It was planned to be a part of the new defence ...
Founded: 1721-1792 | Location: Lappeenranta, 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

Svartholma Fortress

Svartholma sea fortress was built by Swedish in the 18th century. Svartholma and near Loviisa land fortress were designated to defence strategic road from Turku tu Viborg and Sweden-Finland's eastern border against Russians. Svartholma construction started in 1748 and it was mostly completed in the 1760's. Svartholma was a typical bastion system including four bastions and an outer fortification.Svartholma played an signi ...
Founded: 1748-1770 | Location: Loviisa, Finland

Bomarsund

Bomarsund fortress and garrison was built in 1832-1854 by Russian Empire to defence Åland Islands against enemies. British and French fleet attacked against it during the Crimean War in 1854. After a week of fighting the British stormed the remaining fort. Anglo-French forces destroyed it totally after battle. In the Treaty of Paris 1856, the entire Åland Islands were demilitarized, which is a status that has been prese ...
Founded: 1832-1854 | Location: Sund, Finland

Ruotsinsalmi Sea Fortress

Ruotsinsalmi fortress was built by Russians in 1790-1796. It was part of the South-Eastern Finland fortification system which was planned to defence St. Petersburg. The sea fortress was located to islands in front of the city of Kotka and Kyminlinna fortress. It contained three main strongholds (Fort Katarina, Fort Elisabeth and Fort Slava) and several redoubts and artillery batteries.Ruotsinsalmi fortress lost its origin ...
Founded: 1790-1796 | Location: Kotka, Finland

Loviisa Fortress

After the Sweden's defeat in Russo-Swedish War 1741-1743 (also known as the Hats' Russian War) eastern border of Finland was moved to west. Important fortresses of Hamina, Lappeenranta and Savonlinna were left to Russian side of border. The city of Loviisa was established in 1745 to handle a international commerce in Finland. Planning of the new fortification system started concurrently, because Loviisa was located alongs ...
Founded: 1748-1757 | Location: Loviisa, Finland

Reposaari Fortress

Reposaari Fortress (Reposaaren linnakepuisto) was a coastal defence system built in the 1930s. It was designed to protect the important harbor of Pori against Russian fleet. The stronghold area is about 20 hectares and consists of two gun positions, magazines, dugouts, trenches etc. Wooden buildings have been reconstructed in the 1990-2000s. During the Winter War Reposaari Fortress eliminated one Russian bomber and heckl ...
Founded: 1930s | Location: Pori, Finland

Kärnäkoski Fortress

Kärnäkoski fortress was part of the South-Eastern Finland fortification system built by Russians in the 1790's. Purpose of the fortress was to protect the strategic road to St. Petersburg and Russians fleet in Saimaa against Swedish enemies from the west. Building was started in 1790 by French engineer officers and it's a tradional French bastion system. Approximately 1400 Russian soldiers and local peasants wer ...
Founded: 1790-1793 | Location: Savitaipale, Finland

Kyminlinna

Kyminlinna fortress was part of the South-Eastern Finland fortification system built by Russia after Russo-Swedish War of 1788-1790. Kyminlinna and Ruotsinsalmi sea fortress formed together a defense line, which was planned to stop enemies attacking from the west. First fortress was a bastion constructed in 1791-1795 by the general Aleksandr Suvorov. The older part was replaced only couple of years later by the much bigge ...
Founded: 1791-1808 | Location: Kotka, Finland

Utti Fortress

Utti fortress was built by Russians in 1791-1792 as part of the South-Eastern Finland fortification system. It contained a main bastion system and two outer redoubts. It was meant to hold Swedish army until Taavetti fortress is occupied with reserves and ready to fight. Only one battle was fought in Utti during the Russo-Swedish War in 1789. Utti lost its military value in 1809 when Finland was joined to Russia. It was d ...
Founded: 1791-1792 | Location: Kouvola, Finland

Taavetti Fortress

Taavetti fort was built by Russians between years 1773 and 1803 to strategically important crossroads. It was part of the South-Eastern Finland fortification system and meant to defence Russia against possible Swedish attacks. The first phase in 1773-1781 a circle bastion was completed. Inner parts were built in 1791-1796.Military use of Taavetti ended already in 1803. Fortress was nearly ruined when the renovation starte ...
Founded: 1773-1796 | Location: Luumäki, Finland

Brahelinna

Brahelinna ("Brahe Castle") was built by the Swedish soldier and stateman Per (Pietari) Brahe in 1646–1669. Brahe was a Governor General in Finland and Ristiina town part of his fiefdom. Brahelinna contained 15-20 rooms and was used for living from the year 1657. Some planned parts were never completed.Brahelinna was abandoned during the Great Northern War in the beginning of the 18th century and finally demolished ...
Founded: 1646-1669 | Location: Ristiina, Finland

Orivirran Saarto

Orivirran saarto is a ruin of the 16th century fortress. It was built probably in 1540's, because in 1546 Russians complained about Swedish cutting forest and gathering stones in Orivirta. There were probably a main castle, outer fortication, watchtower and dock. During 16th century it was garrisoned by 400-600 men and 5-10 cannons.In 1592 Russian cossacks destroyed the fortress. In a fight over 200 men were died and ...
Founded: 1540 | Location: Savonlinna, Finland

Liikkala Fort

Liikkala fort was built by Russians in 1791-1792 as part of the South-Eastern Finland fortification system. It was meant to defend the road from the Swedish border to Hamina, which the Swedish army had used to attack Hamina in the Russo-Swedish war in 1788. Liikkala contained two ground redoubts and four demi-bastions.After the Finnish War (1808-1809) Liikkala was abandoned, because the border was moved far away to west. ...
Founded: 1791-1792 | Location: Kouvola, Finland

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Veste Coburg

The Veste Coburg is one of Germany's largest castles. The hill on which the fortress stands was inhabited from the Neolithic to the early Middle Ages according to the results of excavations. The first documentary mention of Coburg occurs in 1056, in a gift by Richeza of Lotharingia. Richeza gave her properties to Anno II, Archbishop of Cologne, to allow the creation of Saalfeld Abbey in 1071. In 1075, a chapel dedicated to Saint Peter and Saint Paul is mentioned on the fortified Coberg. This document also refers to a Vogt named Gerhart, implying that the local possessions of the Saalfeld Benedictines were administered from the hill.

A document signed by Pope Honorius II in 1206 refers to a mons coburg, a hill settlement. In the 13th century, the hill overlooked the town of Trufalistat (Coburg's predecessor) and the important trade route from Nuremberg via Erfurt to Leipzig. A document dated from 1225 uses the term schloss (palace) for the first time. At the time, the town was controlled by the Dukes of Merania. They were followed in 1248 by the Counts of Henneberg who ruled Coburg until 1353, save for a period from 1292-1312, when the House of Ascania was in charge.

In 1353, Coburg fell to Friedrich, Markgraf von Meißen of the House of Wettin. His successor, Friedrich der Streitbare was awarded the status of Elector of Saxony in 1423. As a result of the Hussite Wars the fortifications of the Veste were expanded in 1430.

Early modern times through Thirty Years' War

In 1485, in the Partition of Leipzig, Veste Coburg fell to the Ernestine branch of the family. A year later, Elector Friedrich der Weise and Johann der Beständige took over the rule of Coburg. Johann used the Veste as a residence from 1499. In 1506/07, Lucas Cranach the Elder lived and worked in the Veste. From April to October 1530, during the Diet of Augsburg, Martin Luther sought protection at the Veste, as he was under an Imperial ban at the time. Whilst he stayed at the fortress, Luther continued with his work translating the Bible into German. In 1547, Johann Ernst moved the residence of the ducal family to a more convenient and fashionable location, Ehrenburg Palace in the town centre of Coburg. The Veste now only served as a fortification.

In the further splitting of the Ernestine line, Coburg became the seat of the Herzogtum von Sachsen-Coburg, the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg. The first duke was Johann Casimir (1564-1633), who modernized the fortifications. In 1632, the fortress was unsuccessfully besieged by Imperial and Bavarian forces commanded by Albrecht von Wallenstein for seven days during the Thirty Years' War. Its defence was commanded by Georg Christoph von Taupadel. On 17 March 1635, after a renewed siege of five months' duration, the Veste was handed over to the Imperials under Guillaume de Lamboy.

17th through 19th centuries

From 1638-72, Coburg and the Veste were part of the Duchy of Saxe-Altenburg. In 1672, they passed to the Dukes of Saxe-Gotha and in 1735 it was joined to the Duchy of Saxe-Saalfeld. Following the introduction of Primogeniture by Duke Franz Josias (1697-1764), Coburg went by way of Ernst Friedrich (1724-1800) to Franz (1750-1806), noted art collector, and to Duke Ernst III (1784-1844), who remodeled the castle.

In 1826, the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha was created and Ernst now styled himself 'Ernst I'. Military use of the Veste had ceased by 1700 and outer fortifications had been demolished in 1803-38. From 1838-60, Ernst had the run-down fortress converted into a Gothic revival residence. In 1860, use of the Zeughaus as a prison (since 1782) was discontinued. Through a successful policy of political marriages, the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha established links with several of the major European dynasties, including that of the United Kingdom.

20th century

The dynasty ended with the reign of Herzog Carl Eduard (1884-1954), also known as Charles Edward, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a grandson of Queen Victoria, who until 1919 also was the 2nd Duke of Albany in the United Kingdom. Under his rule, many changes made to the Veste in the 19th century were reversed under architect Bodo Ebhardt, with the aim of restoring a more authentic medieval look. Along with the other ruling princes of Germany, Carl Eduard was deposed in the revolution of 1918-1919. After Carl Eduard abdicated in late 1918, the Veste came into possession of the state of Bavaria, but the former duke was allowed to live there until his death. The works of art collected by the family were gifted to the Coburger Landesstiftung, a foundation, which today runs the museum.

In 1945, the Veste was seriously damaged by artillery fire in the final days of World War II. After 1946, renovation works were undertaken by the new owner, the Bayerische Verwaltung der staatlichen Schlösser, Gärten und Seen.

Today

The Veste is open to the public and today houses museums, including a collection art objects and paintings that belonged to the ducal family of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a large collection of arms and armor, significant examples of early modern coaches and sleighs, and important collections of prints, drawings and coins.