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.
Eketorp is an Iron Age fort in southeastern Öland, which was extensively reconstructed and enlarged in the Middle Ages. Throughout the ages the fortification has served a variety of somewhat differing uses: from defensive ringfort, to medieval safe haven and thence a cavalry garrison. In the 20th century it was further reconstructed to become a heavily visited tourist site and a location for re-enactment of medieval battles. Eketorp is the only one of the 19 known prehistoric fortifications on Öland that has been completely excavated, yielding a total of over 24,000 individual artifacts. The entirety of southern Öland has been designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The Eketorp fortification is often referred to as Eketorp Castle.
The indigenous peoples of the Iron Age constructed the original fortification about 400 AD, a period known to have engendered contact between Öland natives with Romans and other Europeans. The ringfort in that era is thought to have been a gathering place for religious ceremonies and also a place of refuge for the local agricultural community when an outside enemy appeared. The circular design was believed to be chosen because the terrain is so level that attack from any side was equally likely. The original diameter of this circular stone fortification was about 57 metres. In the next century the stone was moved outward to construct a new circular structure of about 80 metres in diameter. At this juncture there were known to be about fifty individual cells or small structures within the fort as a whole. Some of these cells were in the center of the fortified ring, and some were actually built into the wall itself.
In the late 600s AD the ringfort was mysteriously abandoned, and it remained unused until the early 11th century. This 11th century work generally built upon the earlier fort, except that stone interior cells were replaced with timber structures, and a second outer defensive wall was erected.
Presently the fort is used as a tourist site for visitors to Öland to experience a medieval fortification for this region. A museum within the castle walls displays a few of the large number of artefacts retrieved by the National Heritage Board during the major decade long excavation ending in 1974. Inside the fort visitors are greeted by actors in medieval costumes who assume the roles of period artisans and merchants who might have lived there nine centuries earlier. There are also re-enactment scenes of skirmishes and other dramatic events of daily life from the Middle Ages.
Eketorp lies a few kilometers west of Route 136. There is an ample unpaved parking area situated approximately two kilometers west of the paved Öland perimeter highway. There is also a gift shop on site. During peak summer visitation, there are guided tours available. Visitors are assessed an admission charge.