Medieval castles in Finland

Turku Castle

Turku castle is a national monument and one the most remarkable medieval castles in Finland. It's also one of the largest existing castles in Scandinavia. A history of Turku castle begins from the year 1280. The Swedish conquerors of Finland intended it originally as a military fortress.During 15th and 16th centuries its defences were strengthened and living quarters were added. The castle served as a bastion and administ ...
Founded: 1280 | Location: Turku, Finland

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

Olavinlinna

Olavinlinna ("St. Olaf's Castle" or "Olofsborg") is one of the greatest medieval castles in Finland. It was built to secure the eastern border of the Kingdom of Sweden-Finland. The construction started in 1475 by Erik Axelsson Tott. Russians disturbed construction work sequently, because the castle was sited in Savonia to the Russian side of the border established by the Treaty of Nöteborg. Olavinlinna was completed prob ...
Founded: 1475-1483 | Location: Savonlinna, Finland

Raasepori Castle

The Raseborg or Raasepori Castle is one the five remaining medieval castles in Finland. It was founded by Bo Jonsson Grip and it is thought that the castle's first phase was completed sometime between 1373 and 1378. The first written data about the castle is from 1378. Its main purpose was to protect Sweden's interests in southern Finland against the Hanseatic city of Tallinn. The castle was originally built on a small is ...
Founded: 1360-1378 | Location: Raasepori, Finland

Porvoo Hill Fort

There are two ancient hill forts in Porvoo, so-called small and big one. There is burial ground in a small hill from the Roman Iron Age (0-400 AD). The items found in excavations reveal that Porvoo river has been a remarkable trading centre already in prehistoric times and local people has had connections to Estonia and Latvia. The bigger hill fort is one of the largest in Finland. It was used for defensive purposes alre ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Porvoo, Finland

Kuusisto Castle

Kuusisto Castle was a medieval episcopal castle built in the beginning of the 14th century. It was the main residence of Finnish Catholic bishops until 1522, when the last bishop Arvid Kurki drowned when fleeing from Danish soldiers.Kuusisto heyday was in the in the beginning of the 15th century, when bishop Maunu Tawast spent lot of time and money to enlarge the castle. The castle was ordered to be demolished during the ...
Founded: ca. 1300 | Location: Kaarina, Finland

Kastelholma Castle

First record of Kastelholma (or Kastelholm) castle is from the year 1388 in the contract of Queen Margaret I of Denmark, where a large portion of the inheritance of Bo Jonsson Grip was given to the queen. The heyday of the castle was in the 15th and 16th centuries when it was administrated by Danish and Swedish kings and stewards of the realms. Kastelhoma was expanded and enhanced several times.In the end of 16th century ...
Founded: 1388 | Location: Sund, Finland

Sundholma Manor

The first known owner of Sundholma was Henrik Klauson Fleming, who moved the estate to the current site in the late 1400s. He built a fortified manor house which was surrounded by a moat (it is still visible in the park). The current main building was built in the 1770s and early 1800s. The stone basement remains probably from the original Fleming's castle manor.
Founded: 15th century | Location: Uusikaupunki, Finland

Korsholm Castle Ruins

Korsholm Castle was a medieval castle in Vaasa. It was probably built in the 1370s and the oldest record dates back to 1384 (the testament of Bo Jonsson Grip, where the castle was called as Krytzeborg). The castle was originally built to a small island and it was surrounded by a moat and two walls. The castle itself was probably built of wood. In the Middle Ages Korsholm was a property of several nobles. The most famous ...
Founded: 1370s | Location: Vaasa, Finland

Junkarsborg Castle

Junkarsborg was a medieval castle in Raasepori. There are no documents left of castle, but archaeologists suppose that the castle was built in the early 14th century and was used until the beginning of the 15th century. Iron and bronze items, ceramics and silver coins have been found from the castle site. Remains refers to Rheinland in Germany and one theory believes that the castle was originally built by the Danish sold ...
Founded: ca. 1320 | Location: Raasepori, Finland

Kokemäki Castle

Kokemäki Castle (Kokemäen linna) was a medieval castle in Kokemäki town. The time of its foundation is unclear, but the castle was most likely completed in 1324-1325. It was demolished in 1367 by order of King Albert, as the local residents complained of heavy taxation for the upkeep of the castle. The castle was located on the Linnaluoto Island in the river Kokemäenjoki. Kokemäki Castle was the administrative centr ...
Founded: 1324 | Location: Kokemäki, Finland

Haapaniemi Castle

Haapaniemi castle was one of the oldest manor houses in Finland, first record of Haapaniemi dates back to year 1469. The castle manor was built probably between 1450-1525 by the powerful nobleman Henrik Klaunpoika Horn, who owned it until 1540s. After Horns Haapaniemi was owned by another famous noble family Fleming.The castle manor was ruined in the Great Wrath (1713-1721). Fiskars Ironworks bought manor properties in 17 ...
Founded: 1450-1525 | Location: Salo, Finland

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Hagios Demetrios

The Church of Saint Demetrius, or Hagios Demetrios, is the main sanctuary dedicated to Saint Demetrius, the patron saint of Thessaloniki. It is part of the site Palaeochristian and Byzantine Monuments of Thessaloniki on the list of World Heritage Sites by UNESCO since 1988.

The first church on the spot was constructed in the early 4th century AD, replacing a Roman bath. A century later, a prefect named Leontios replaced the small oratory with a larger, three-aisled basilica. Repeatedly gutted by fires, the church eventually was reconstructed as a five-aisled basilica in 629–634. This was the surviving form of the church much as it is today. The most important shrine in the city, it was probably larger than the local cathedral. The historic location of the latter is now unknown.

The church had an unusual shrine called the ciborium, a hexagonal, roofed structure at one side of the nave. It was made of or covered with silver. The structure had doors and inside was a couch or bed. Unusually, it did not hold any physical relics of the saint. The ciborium seems to have been a symbolic tomb. It was rebuilt at least once.

The basilica is famous for six extant mosaic panels, dated to the period between the latest reconstruction and the inauguration of the Byzantine Iconoclasm in 730. These mosaics depict St. Demetrius with officials responsible for the restoration of the church (called the founders, ktetors) and with children. An inscription below one of the images glorifies heaven for saving the people of Thessalonica from a pagan Slavic raid in 615.

Thessaloniki became part of the Ottoman Empire in 1430. About 60 years later, during the reign of Bayezid II, the church was converted into a mosque, known as the Kasımiye Camii after the local Ottoman mayor, Cezeri Kasım Pasha. The symbolic tomb however was kept open for Christian veneration. Other magnificent mosaics, recorded as covering the church interior, were lost either during the four centuries when it functioned as a mosque (1493–1912) or in the Great Thessaloniki Fire of 1917 that destroyed much of the city. It also destroyed the roof and upper walls of the church. Black-and-white photographs and good watercolour versions give an idea of the early Byzantine craftsmanship lost during the fire.

Following the Great Fire of 1917, it took decades to restore the church. Tombstones from the city"s Jewish cemetery - destroyed by the Greek and Nazi German authorities - were used as building materials in these restoration efforts in the 1940s. Archeological excavations conducted in the 1930s and 1940s revealed interesting artifacts that may be seen in a museum situated inside the church"s crypt. The excavations also uncovered the ruins of a Roman bath, where St. Demetrius was said to have been held prisoner and executed. A Roman well was also discovered. Scholars believe this is where soldiers dropped the body of St. Demetrius after his execution. After restoration, the church was reconsecrated in 1949.