Palaces, manors and town halls in Finland

Presidential Palace

To the north of Kauppatori Square stands the Presidential Palace, one of C. L. Engel’s grand neo-classical buildings. Originally at the beginning of 19th century, a salt storehouse stood on the site. The entire lot was bought by merchant Johan Henrik Heidenstrauch who built the first palace in 1820. He had to sell it to the senate of Finland in 1837 and the building was moved to the official residence of the Tsar or Rus ...
Founded: 1816-1845 | Location: Helsinki, Finland

Parliament House

Since 1907 the Parliament of Finland was convened in House of the Estates and Finnish House of Nobility. Both buildings became however too small for the 200 members of the independent Finland Parliament. In 1923 a competition was held to choose a site for a new Parliament House. Arkadianmäki, a hill beside what is now Mannerheimintie, was chosen as the best site.The architectural competition which was held in 1924 wa ...
Founded: 1926-1931 | Location: Helsinki, Finland

Tampere City Hall

Tampere neo-renaissance city hall was built in 1890 and was designed by Georg Schreck. At first all city bureaus were located to the city hall. During the Great Strike in 1905, the so-called "Red Manifest" was read from the balcony of the Tampere City Hall. The manifest was drawn up on behalf of the strike committee by several leaders of the Finnish Social Democrats. Among the demands made in the manifest were the resigna ...
Founded: 1890 | Location: Tampere, Finland

Hatanpää Manor

First record of Hatanpää dates back to year 1540 and the first manor was built in the 1690s. Hans Boije (1717-1781) improved the farming business and increased Hatanpää prosperity significantly. He also built an English garden to Hatanpää with and hired 30 gardeners to maintain it. Boije was a freemasonry and added an stone to the park with Greek engraving Egno Kyrios tous ontas antou (Lord k ...
Founded: 1883-1885 | Location: Tampere, Finland

Oulu City Hall

The Oulu City Hall was completed in 1886 as a restaurant (“Seurahuone”). The neo-Renaissance building was designed by J. E. Stenberg. The city council moved to the house in 1921.
Founded: 1886 | Location: Oulu, Finland

The Old Courthouse

The empire style Old Courthouse in Pori was built in 1839-1841. It is designed by the famous architect C. L. Engel who has also created the empire style Helsinki Senate Square and Cathedral. In the beginning the building functioned as an office of the municipality administration, but also as jail and fireguard’s house. The City Hall was damaged by fire in 1852. It was renovated to the original shape some years later ...
Founded: 1839-1841 | Location: Pori, Finland

Hvitträsk

Hvitträsk atelier was built between 1901-1903 by architects Herman Gesellius, Armas Lindgren and Eliel Saarinen. The main building, designed in National Romantic style, built of logs and natural stone, was both a common studio and a home for Eliel Saarinen and Armas Lindgren for some years after it was completed.Seveval famous artists, including Jean Sibelius, Axeli Gallen-Kallela and Maksim Gorki, visited in Hvitträsk. ...
Founded: 1902-1903 | Location: Kirkkonummi, Finland

Näsilinna Palace

The Neo-Baroque palace Näsilinna was built by Finlayson factory owner Peter von Nottbeck in 1898. It was designed by architect K.A.Wrede. Due to deaths in the owner's family, Näsilinna was soon left without residents, and the city of Tampere bought it in 1905. It was changed to museum already in 1908.Later Näsilinna was unoccupied for years and dilapidated badly. The restoration was completed in 2015. The f ...
Founded: 1898 | Location: Tampere, 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

Espoo Manor

Espoo estate was established as a 'King's manor' (Kungsgård) by Gustav Vasa, King of Sweden, in 1556. The first bailiff was Peder Mandel in 1557-1558. Later the manor was a residence of famous field marshals and statemen Jacob de la Gardie and Gustav Horn. Espoo manor has been owned by the Ramsay family since 1756. The current manor house was built in 1797. Today Espoo manor provides wedding and event services.
Founded: 1797 | Location: Espoo, Finland

Valtionhotelli

The Imatrankoski Rapids has been a famous tourist sight since the 18th century. For example Catherine the Great, the Empress of All the Russias, visited Imatra in July 1772. In 1892 the railway came to Imatra, which immediately shortened the journey from St. Petersburg and increased the influx of tourists. There were originally two wooden hotels used by Russian aristocracy, but but they had been destroyed in fires in the ...
Founded: 1903 | Location: Imatra, Finland

Tamminiemi

Tamminiemi villa was one of the official residences of the President of Finland from 1940 until 1981. From that date, until his death, it served as the residence of President Urho Kekkonen. Designed by architects Sigurd Frosterus and Gustaf Strengell, the jugendstil villa was built in 1903 for the Danish-born businessman Jörgen Nissen. The villa was later owned or rented by a number of individuals, before being acqui ...
Founded: 1903 | Location: Helsinki, Finland

Kuopio City Hall

The massive City Hall of Kuopio was built between 1882-1885. The Neo-renaissance building was designed by F. A. Sjöström and J. Stenbäck.
Founded: 1882-1885 | Location: Kuopio, Finland

Vaasa City Hall

Vaasa City Hall was designed by Swedish architect Magnus Isæus and it was completed in 1883. The Senate of Finland moved to the city hall during the Civil War on 16.3.1918. The Senate worked there until 3.5.1918 when the war ended and Senate moved back to Helsinki.Today the City Hall is used for events of local communities, companies and the city of Vaasa.
Founded: 1883 | Location: Vaasa, Finland

Alberga Manor

Alberga Manor was first mentioned in the 1620s. The current main building was built as a summer residence by council Feodor Kiseleff in 1874–1876. Later it was in the possession of Helsinki city and left to decay. The main restoration was made in 1997 and today Alberga is used by Espoo City culture office.
Founded: 1874-1876 | Location: Espoo, Finland

Louhisaari Manor

Louhisaari manor castle was built in the late medieval ages by the remarkable Fleming noble family. The present main building was completed in the 1650s and represents the rare palatial architecture in Finland. The grounds have an extensive English-style park, complete with paths. Louhisaari belonged to the Fleming family for over three hundred years. The lack of money forced them to sell the manor to the family of Manner ...
Founded: ca. 1650 | Location: Masku, 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

Haikko Manor

The history of the Haikko manor dates back to 1362 when a Dominican monastery owned the site. Jöns Olafsson Stenbock bought the manor and Haikko was a residence of Stenbock family for next 400 years. In 1871 it was bought by general Sebastian von Etter. Several members of the Russian Imperial family visited Haikko because von Etter was a close friend to czar Nicholas II. During the revolution in 1917 Grand Duke Kiril ...
Founded: 1913 | Location: Porvoo, Finland

Herttoniemi Manor Museum

The history of Herttoniemi Manor dates back to the 16th century. The Herttoniemi area is probably named after Laurens Hertoghe who might have been the first owner of the manor. The heyday was in the late 1700’s, when the manor was owned by Augustin Ehrensvärd. He led the construction of Suomenlinna fortress. The present main building originates from the beginning of 19th century, when the manor was owned by ad ...
Founded: 19th century | Location: Helsinki, Finland

Sjundby Manor

The history of the Sjundby manor castle dates back to year 1417. The present main building was built in the 1560’s by Jakob Henriksson. It was made of grey stone and had also a defensive purpose. Sjundby has been a residence for several noble families. The most well-known owner was Sigfrid Wasa, the daugher of the king Eric XIV. After her Adlercreutz family had owned Sjundby over 300 years to the present. Only exception ...
Founded: ca. 1560 | Location: Siuntio, 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.