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 Ehrensv&aum ...
Founded: 1748-1917 | Location: Helsinki, 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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Beersel Castle

The moated castle at Beersel is one of the few exceptionally well-preserved examples of medieval fortifications in Belgium. It remains pretty much as it must have appeared in the 15th century. Remarkably, it was never converted into a fortified mansion. A visitor is able to experience at first-hand how it must have felt to live in a heavily fortified castle in the Middle Ages.

The castle was built in around 1420 as a means of defence on the outer reaches of Brussels. The tall, dense walls and towers were intended to hold any besiegers at bay. The moat and the marshy ground along its eastern, southern and western edges made any attack a formidable proposition. For that reason, any attackers would have chosen its weaker northern defences where the castle adjoins higher lying ground. But the castle was only taken and destroyed on one occasion in 1489, by the inhabitants of Brussels who were in rebellion against Maximilian of Austria.

After being stormed and plundered by the rebels it was partially rebuilt. The pointed roofs and stepped gables are features which have survived this period. The reconstruction explains why two periods can be identified in the fabric of the edifice, particularly on the outside.

The red Brabant sandstone surrounds of the embrasures, now more or less all bricked up, are characteristic of the 15th century. The other embrasures, edged with white sandstone, date from the end of the 15th century. They were intended for setting up the artillery fire. The merlons too are in white sandstone. The year 1617 can be clearly seen in the foundation support on the first tower. This refers to restorations carried out at the time by the Arenberg family.

Nowadays, the castle is dominated by three massive towers. The means of defence follow the classic pattern: a wide, deep moat surrounding the castle, a drawbridge, merlons on the towers, embrasures in the walls and in the towers, at more or less regular intervals, and machiolations. Circular, projecting towers ensured that attacks from the side could be thwarted. If the enemy were to penetrate the outer wall, each tower could be defended from embrasures facing onto the inner courtyard.

The second and third towers are flanked by watchtowers from which shots could be fired directly below. Between the second and third tower are two openings in the walkway on the wall. It is not clear what these were used for. Were these holes used for the disposing of rubbish, or escape routes. The windows on the exterior are narrow and low. All light entering comes from the interior. The few larger windows on the exterior date from a later period. It is most probable that the third tower - the highest - was used as a watchtower.