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 were forced to construction work and many of them died in hard work and illnesses.
Kärnäkoski protected the border only 15 years and after Finnish War in 1808-1809 fortress lost its defensive value. Kärnäkoski was disbanded in 1835 by the tsar Nicholas I. After that fortress was disarmed, buildings and remaining equipment were auctioned and the walls and fortifications were left untended. Kärnäkoski never took part to a military action, but in Finland Civil War (1918) several battles were fought nearby.
Today Kärnäkoski fortress is a tourist attraction, although there are no guided tours or other tourist or travel services in the fortress, simply guidance signs. Finnish National Board of Antiquities and Finnish Ministry of the Environment have listed the fortress area as nationally significant cultural historic landmark. NBA has restored Kärnäkoski fortress to its former shape together with other fortresses in south-eastern Finland. Walls were repaired and the fortress area was restored and cleared. Other historical buildings nearby are an old barge harbor, mill and saw built in 1830s and a double-arch stone bridge from 1886. The mill has not been used since 1950s, but was restored by a local village organization in 2002.
Sweetheart Abbey was a Cistercian monastery, founded in 1275 by Dervorguilla of Galloway in memory of her husband John de Balliol. His embalmed heart, in a casket of ivory and silver, was buried alongside her when she died; the monks at the Abbey then renamed the Abbey in tribute to her. Their son, also John, became king of Scotland but his reign was tragic and short. The depredations suffered by the Abbey in subsequent periods, have caused both the graves to be lost. The abbey, built in deep-red, local sandstone, was founded as a daughter house to Dundrennan Abbey; this Novum Monasterium (New Monastery), became known as the New Abbey.
The immediate abbey precincts extended to 120,000 m2 and sections of the surrounding wall can still be seen today. The Cistercian order, also known as the White Monks because of the white habit, over which they wore a black scapular or apron, built many great abbeys after their establishment around 1100. Like many of their abbeys, the New Abbey's interests lay not only in prayer and contemplation but in the farming and commercial activity of the area, making it the centre of local life. The abbey ruins dominate the skyline today and one can only imagine how it and the monks would have dominated early medieval life as farmers, agriculturalists, horse and cattle breeders. Surrounded by rich and fertile grazing and arable land, they became increasingly expert and systematic in their farming and breeding methods. Like all Cistercian abbeys, they made their mark, not only on the religious life of the district but on the ways of local farmers and influenced agriculture in the surrounding areas.
The village which stands next to the ruins today, is now known as New Abbey. At the other end of the main street is Monksmill, a corn mill. Although the present buildings date from the late eighteenth century, there was an earlier mill built by and for the monks of the abbey which serviced the surrounding farms.