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 ...
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

Königstein Fortress

Königstein Fortress is located on the left bank of the River Elbe. It is one of the largest hilltop fortifications in Europe. The 9.5 hectare rock plateau rises 240 metres above the Elbe and has over 50 buildings, some over 400 years old, that bear witness to the military and civilian life in the fortress. The rampart run of the fortress is 1,800 metres long with walls up to 42 metres high and steep sandstone faces. In the centre of the site is a 152.5 metre deep well, which is the deepest in Saxony and second deepest well in Europe.

The fortress, which for centuries was used as a state prison, is still intact and is now one of Saxony's foremost tourist attractions, with 700,000 visitors per year.

By far the oldest written record of a castle on the Königstein is found in a deed by King Wenceslas I of Bohemia dating to the year 1233. It is probable that there had been a stone castle on the Königstein as early as the 12th century. The oldest surviving structure today is the castle chapel built at the turn of the 13th century. In the years 1563 to 1569 the 152.5 metre deep well was bored into the rock within the castle - until that point the garrison of the Königstein had to obtain water from cisterns and by collecting rainwater.

Between 1589 and 1591/97 Prince-Elector Christian I of Saxony and his successor had the castle developed into the strongest fortification in Saxony. The hill was now surrounded with high walls. Buildings were erected, including the Gatehouse (Torhaus), the Streichwehr, the Old Barracks (Alte Kaserne), the Christiansburg (Friedrichsburg) and the Old Armoury (Altes Zeughaus). The second construction period followed from 1619 to 1681, during which the John George Bastion was built. The third construction period is seen as the time from 1694 to 1756, which included the expansion of the Old Barracks. From 1722 to 1725, at the behest of August the Strong, coopers under Böttger built the enormous Königstein Wine Barrel, the greatest wine barrel in the world, in the cellar of the Magdalenenburg which had a capacity of 249,838 litres. It cost 8,230 thalers, 18 groschen and 9 pfennigs. The butt, which was once completely filled with country wine from the Meißen vineyards, had to be removed again in 1818 due to its poor condition. Because of Böttger, Königstein Fortress is also the site where European porcelain started.

Even after the expansion during those periods of time there continued to be modifications and additions on the extensive plateau. The Treasury (Schatzhaus) was built from 1854 to 1855. After the fortress had been incorporated in 1871 into the fortification system of the new German Empire, battery ramparts were constructed from 1870 to 1895 with eight firing points, that were to have provided all-round defence for the fortress in case of an attack that, in the event, never came. This was at this time that the last major building work was done on the fortress.

Because Königstein Fortress was regarded as unconquerable, the Saxon monarchs retreated to it from Wittenberg and later Dresden during times of crisis and also deposited the state treasure and many works of art from the famous Zwinger here; it was also used as a country retreat due to its lovely surroundings.

The fortress played an important role in the History of Saxony, albeit less as a result of military action. The Saxon Dukes and Prince-Electors used the fortress primarily as a secure refuge during times of war, as a hunting lodge and maison de plaisance, but also as a dreaded state prison. Its actual military significance was rather marginal.

Since 1955 the fortress has been an open-air, military history museum of high touristic value.