Top historic sites in Aland Islands

Museum Ship Pommern & Åland Maritime Museum

The Pommern, formerly the Mneme (1903–1908), is a four-masted barque that was built in 1903 in Glasgow at J. Reid & Co shipyard. It was one of the Flying P-Liners, the famous sailing ships of the German shipping company F. Laeisz. Later she was acquired Gustaf Erikson of the Finnish Åland archipelago, who used the ship to carry grain from the Spencer Gulf area in Australia to harbours in England or Ireland ...
Founded: 1903-1908 (museum ship Pommern | Location: Maarianhamina, 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

Kökar Church

There may have been two or three wooden churches in Kökar since the last half of 14th century. During the 16th century a Franciscan monastery was founded on Hamnö island. This place became a spiritual and cultural centre for the entire archipelago.Today the ruins of monastery share their site with current Kökar's church, which is probably third in this place. It was built between 1769 and 1784 in charge of ...
Founded: 1769-1784 | Location: Kökar, Finland

Mail & Custom's House

The Mail & Custom’s House is rare and historically significant building in Eckerö. It was designed by famous Finnish architects C.L. Engel and C. Bassi and completed in 1828. The purpose of the building was to indicate the power of Russian Empire to seafarers coming from Sweden and it was built intentionally too large for the custom and post office need.The Mail & Custom's House is well preserved. T ...
Founded: 1828 | Location: Eckerö, Finland

Geta Church

Geta Church is believed to be built in the 1460s, and was dedicated to St. George. It was used as a chapel until the beginning of the 20th century. The altarpiece was donated in 1685. The Empire-style pulpit is from 1842. The major reconstructions have been done in the 17th century, and in 1842. The belfry was built in the middle of the 17th century, but it has been reconstructed in 1685 and in the 19th century.
Founded: 1460-1540 | Location: Geta, 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

The Church of St. Olaf

The Church of St. Olaf was built in around 1260-1280s, but the oldest parts may date back to the previous century. The wall paintings decorating the interior is from the 1280s. The present appearance of the church dates from the extensions in the 19th century. Jomala Church is the oldest remaining church in Finland.
Founded: 1260-1290 | Location: Jomala, Finland

The Church of St. Lawrence

The Church of St. Lawrence was built in the 1380s to replace an earlier wooden church. The tower has been added in 1467, and the wall paintings are from the beginning of the 16th century. The church has been reconstructed in the 17th century and the beginning of the 18th century. The remodeling has been done in the 19th century. The altarpiece was painted by B. Reinhold in 1876. The bell dates from the beginning of the 13 ...
Founded: 1380-1420 | Location: Eckerö, Finland

The Church of St. Matthias

The stone church of Vårdö was built between 1520 and 1550. There may have been a wooden church before in the same site since the 14th century. Church was enlarged in 1784 and the new sacristy was masoned in 1786. Vårdö church survived without damages from the Great Northern War (1700-1721) although the town of Vårdö was burnt.
Founded: 1520-1550 | Location: Vårdö, Finland

The Church of St. Mary

The present greystone church of St. Mary was built to replace a wooden church at the latter half of 14th century. The tower was built around 1380 and it has baroque fashioned top added in the 18th century.Church is located to the largest Iron Age grave field in Åland and there are some remains of Viking Age living in surroundings.
Founded: 1370-1380 | Location: Saltvik, Finland

The Church of St. Birgitta

The Church of St. Birgitta is one of the oldest churches in Finland. Main hall of stone church is from the end of 13th century and oldest wooden parts of bell tower were built between 1311 and 1316. The sacristy was built in the 1450s. Church was enlarged during 17th century. Oldest lime wall paintings in the church were made around year 1300.
Founded: 1290-1316 | Location: Lemland, Finland

The Church of St. Catherine

The Church of St. Catherine was built in the end of the 13th century, and is oblong in shape. It was destroyed by fire in the beginning of the 15th century. The wall paintings are from 15th century, and the pulpit was placed in 1650. The church has been reconstructed in the 1830s, and the alterpiece was painted by R.W. Ekman in 1869.
Founded: 1300 | Location: Hammarland, Finland

The Church of St. Anna

First record of the church of Kumlinge is in a testament dated back to the year 1484. The church was consecrated to St. Anna. There have been probably a chapel and even two wooden churches before the present stone church, which was built approximately in 1510. Baroque fashioned belltower was erected in 1767. There's also the oldest altarpiece in Finland (from year 1250) and wooden Madonna statue from the 15th century.
Founded: 1510 | Location: Kumlinge, Finland

Otterböte Bronze Age Site

The site consists of remains of nine huts, several rubbish heaps and a little well, which is the earliest known in well Finland. The site was populated around 1000 BC by seal-hunters who came from Poland. They used this site during the hunting season. The site is accessible by foot, the path starting from Hamnövägen is about 600 metres long.
Founded: 1000 BC | Location: Kökar, Finland

Nabbergen Cairns

The cairn graveyard in Nabbergen has some 80 establishments, spread over a ca 300 x 200 m big area. The establishments can be dated to about the birth of Christ. Walk from the village of Käringsund toward Hummelvik Camping and then walk along Hummelviksstigen, past the camp site, and you will see a sign that says “Rösegravfält” in the third curve.
Founded: 0 CE | Location: Eckerö, Finland

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Royal Palace of Aranjuez

Palacio Real de Aranjuez is a former Spanish royal residence. It was established around the time Philip II of Spain moved the capital from Toledo to Madrid. Aranjuez became one of four seasonal seats of government, occupied during the springtime (from about holy week). Thereafter, the court moved successively to Rascafría, El Escorial and wintered in Madrid. Aranjuez Cultural Landscape is an UNESCO World Heritage Site.

After the Christian conquest, Aranjuez was owned by the Order of Santiago and a palace was built for its Grand Masters where the Royal Palace stands today. When the Catholic Monarchs assumed the office of Grand Master of the Order of Santiago, Aranjuez became part of the Royal estate. This fertile land, located between the Tajo and Jarama Rivers, was converted into the Spanish monarchy's most lavish country retreat: during Spain's Golden Age, Aranjuez became a symbol for the perfection of nature by mortal hands, as El Escorial was for art.

Such excellence was based on strong Renaissance foundations, as Charles V envisaged this inherited estate as a large Italian-inspired villa, a desire continued by Philip II who appointed Juan Bautista de Toledo to design leafy avenues that ran through the gardens and farming land. A series of dams was constructed in the 16th century to control the course of the Tajo River and create a network of irrigation canals.

The splendour of the estate was only enhanced by the Bourbon monarchs, who would spend the whole spring, from Easter to July, at the Palace. Phillip V added new gardens and Ferdinand VI designed a new system of tree-lined streets and created a small village within the estate, which was further developed by Charles III and Charles IV. As Ferdinand VII and Isabella II continued to visit Aranjuez during the spring, the splendour of this site was maintained until 1870.

The Royal Palace, built by Phillip II on the site of the old palace of the Grand Masters of Santiago, was designed by the architect Juan Bautista de Toledo –under whom construction began in 1564– and later Juan Herrera, who only managed to finish half the project. Although glimpses of the original layout still remain, the building itself is more characteristic of the classicism favoured by the Hapsburg monarchs, with alternating white stone and brick. The original design was continued by Phillip V in 1715 but not finished until 1752 under Ferdinand VI. The rectangular layout that Juan Bautista de Toledo had planned, and that took two centuries to complete, was only maintained for 20 years, since in 1775 Charles III added two wings onto the Palace.

Real Casa del Labrador

As the Prince of Asturias, Charles IV was a frequent visitor to the pier pavilions built by Ferdinand VI and grew up playing in the Prince’s Garden. When he became King, he decided to build a new country house at the far end of these gardens, known as the Casa del Labrador (the labourer's house) due to its modest exterior that was designed to heavily contrast the magnificent internal decor. It was built by chief architect Juan de Villanueva and his pupil Isidro González Velázquez, who designed some of the interior spaces. These rooms, developed in various stages until 1808, are the greatest example of the lavish interior decor favoured by this monarch in his palaces and country retreats. Highlights at this Site include the combination of different types of art and the luxurious textiles, in particular the silks from Lyon, as well as wealth of original works on the main floor, where Ferdinand VII added various paintings and landscapes by Brambilla.

King's Garden, the Island Garden, Parterre Garden and the Prince's Garden

Phillip II, a great lover of gardens, paid special attention to this feature of the Aranjuez Palace: during his reign, he maintained both the Island Garden, designed by the architect Juan Bautista de Toledo, and the King's Garden, immediately adjacent to the Palace and whose current layout was designed by Philip IV. The majority of the fountains on this island were commissioned by Phillip IV, while the Bourbons added other features such as the Charles III benches.

Phillip V made two French-style additions to the existing gardens: the Parterre Garden in front of the palace and the extension at the far end of the Island Garden, known as the Little Island, where he installed the Tritons Fountain that was later moved to the Campo del Moro park by Isabella II.

The Prince's Garden owes its name and creation to the son and heir of Charles III who, in the 1770s, began to use Ferdinand VI's old pier for his own enjoyment. He also created a landscaped garden in the Anglo-French style that was in fashion at the time and which was directly influenced by Marie Antoinette's gardens at the Petit Trianon. Both Juan de Villanueva and Pablo Boutelou collaborated in the design of this garden.