Towering 52 meters above the sea, Bengtskär lighthouse is the tallest one in Scandinavia. The building started in in 1905 after the shipwreck of S/S Helsingfors and was completed in 1906. The lighthouse was designed by architect Florentin Granholm. On December a special petrol lantern, designed and built in Paris, was brought to Bengtskär and installed atop the tower.
German fleet bombarded Bengstkär in the First World War in 1914. Since the Gulf of Finland was heavily mined, it was not until 1919 that the surrounding seas were declared safe for shipping, that the light was lit again.
After the war the military value of Bengtskär increased as part of the defence system of independent Finland. In Second World War (1941) Soviet Union made a suprise attack to island. After a bloody battle, the small Finnish garrison emerged victorious. Intermittent repairs to the facility continued during the post-war period. Finally, the lighthouse was re-opened in 1950.
Today the Bengtskär lighthouse is a popular tourist attraction providing a museum, varying exhibitions, cafe and accomodation services. The lighthouse is open for visitors every day between June 1st and August 31st. The shortest sea route to Bengtskär goes through the beautiful archipelago. The trip from Kasnäs to Bengtskär takes about an hour.
Het Steen is a medieval fortress in the old city centre of Antwerp. Built after the Viking incursions in the early Middle Ages as the first stone fortress of Antwerp, Het Steen is Antwerp's oldest building and used to be its oldest urban centre.
Previously known as Antwerpen Burcht (fortress), Het Steen gained its current name in around 1520, after significant rebuilding under Charles V. The fortress made it possible to control the access to the Scheldt, the river on whose bank it stands. It was used as a prison between 1303 and 1827. The largest part of the fortress, including dozens of historic houses and the oldest church of the city, was demolished in the 19th century when the quays were straightened to stop the silting up of the Scheldt. The remaining building, heavily changed, contains a shipping museum, with some old canal barges displayed on the quay outside.
In 1890 Het Steen became the museum of archeology and in 1952 an annex was added to house the museum of Antwerp maritime history, which in 2011 moved to the nearby Museum Aan de Stroom. Here you’ll also find a war memorial to the Canadian soldiers in WWII.
There are some beautiful plaques on the back side of the Steen Castle at Antwerp. Canadian visitors will especially want to see the plaques thanking the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry for their part in the liberation of Antwerp, in 1944.
At the entrance to Het Steen is a bas-relief of Semini, above the archway, around 2nd century. Semini is the Scandinavian God of youth and fertility (with symbolic phallus). A historical plaque near Het Steen explains that women of the town appealed to Semini when they desired children; the god was reviled by later religious clergy. Inhabitants of Antwerp previously referred to themselves as 'children of Semini'.
At the entrance bridge to the castle is a statue of a giant and two humans. It depicts the giant Lange Wapper who used to terrorise the inhabitants of the city in medieval times.