Suomenlinna ("Sveaborg", "Viapori") sea fortress is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of Finland’s most popular tourist attractions. The construction of the fortress started by the king of Sweden in 1748 as protection against Russian expansionism. Suomenlinna was planned to be a principal base for naval military operations and the general responsibility for the fortification work was given to Augustin Ehrensvärd. The construction phase lasted for over four decades. During this time six islands were fortified to provide a safe harbor and dock for the archipelago fleet in Finland.

In the Finnish War (1808-1809) Russians easily took Helsinki in early 1808 and began bombarding the fortress. Its commander, Carl Olof Cronstedt, negotiated a cease-fire, and when no Swedish reinforcements had arrived by May, Suomenlinna surrendered with almost 7,000 men. After taking over the fortress the Russians set about on an extensive building program, mostly extra barracks, but also extending the dockyard and reinforcing to the fortification lines.

During the Crimean War in 1855 a combined Anglo-French fleet bombarded Viapori for two days in August. At this point, the repair work was nowhere near complete, and Viapori sustained heavy damage in the bombardment. The next stage in the arming of Suomenlinna and the Gulf of Finland came in the build-up to World War I. The fortress and its surrounding islands became part of "Peter the Great's naval fortification" designed to safeguard the capital, Saint Petersburg. The fortress became part of an independent Finland in 1917, following the Russian Revolution.

After the Finnish Civil War, a prison camp existed on the island. About 6000 red prisoners were held in Suomenlinna. Many of them were executed by the white army and others died of disease due to the poor conditions in the fortress.

Suomenlinna is today one of the most popular tourist attractions in Helsinki as well as a popular picnicking spot for the city's inhabitants. A number of museums exist on the island, as well as the last surviving Finnish submarine, Vesikko.

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Details

Founded: 1748-1917
Category: Castles and fortifications in Finland
Historical period: The Age of Enlightenment (Finland)

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4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Audrey Low (8 months ago)
the toy museum was so quaint and pretty!! gets really cold on the island though the ferry ride to the island was fast! if you are getting single trip tickets at the dock, you can only pay in coins if you are using cash which kinda sucks
Amy Wiseman (8 months ago)
The most unique place to go if you get to Hki on a cruise. A must-see for tourists with the time, and a good picnic spot for locals in the summer.
Orestis Karadimitriou (9 months ago)
A must place when you are visiting Helsinki. Excellent place to explore the country' past and unique landscape and scenery. Requires a lot of walking so please get the appropriate gear per season. Best time May to October. A least three museums military - local history - toys. Requires from one hour up to the whole day if you can afford it and weather permitting. A few places to eat on the island or for a coffee plus a super market near the dock that offers a selection of snacks. Try to make the round of the islands and be exploring but also descret as sometimes is difficult to differentiate private property from public places. People still leave there so is a living museum - a unique one. 10k steps can be easily consumed to get an idea of effort if you are into hiking mood. Don't miss it!!!!
Erica Hoot (9 months ago)
Excellent half day trip in Helsinki. Beautiful, well maintained little island with tons of history. The military museums were fascinating. The brewery was great too!
Ujang Sapriatna (10 months ago)
We think this is a must visit place in Helsinki. We took public ferry transport to reach the island, which is included in public transport ticket. The island is pretty and huge. Prepare 3-6 hours to explore the island. The island also has some cafes, tourist info center, museums, and fortress. It's a good place to walk around with families.
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