The history of the original estate of Vanajanlinna, Äikäälä, goes back to the Middle Ages. Historical records mention Olle af Aeykaelum (Olli of Äikäälä) as the owner of the Äikäälä estate in 1374. After him the farm has had many owners and a colourful history as a freehold and holding farm used for agriculture.
The actual history of Vanajalinna begins from the year 1918, when the industrialist Carl Wilhelm Rosenlew bought the Äikäälä estate. His idea was to build a hunting lodge for politicians and economical elite of the new, independent Finland. The Vanajanlinna palace was designed by Sigurd Frosterus and it represents baroque, renaissance and British manor architecture styles. The massive red-brick palace was completed in 1924.
After the death of C. W. Rosenlew Vanajanlinna was left for minimal use and in 1941 Rosenlews decided to sell the estate. There were two interested buyers. Risto Ryti, the President of Finland, wanted Vanajanlinna as the President´s summer residence instead of the present official summer residence Kultaranta in Naantali. The other interested was an immensely rich German munitions industrialist Willy Daugs. Despite Risto Ryti´s strong opposition, Vanajanlinna was sold to Daugs, who then moved to the house.
After Germany was defeated in the war, all German property in Finland was transferred to the Soviet Union as war reparations, including Vanajanlinna. The Russian embassy used Vanajanlinna for holiday residence few times, but the main building began to decay. In 1956 Yrjö Sirola Institute acquired the estate and moved it as the folk high school. After the acquisition over a half of the land was conveyed to veterans to build small farms and dwelling houses. The Sirola Institute was shut down in 1994 and in 1996 the buildings and land of Vanajanlinna were acquired by the City of Hämeenlinna.
Today Vanajanlinna provides hotel, restaurant, conference and event services. There is also a high class golf course.
The Seaplane Harbour is the newest and one of the most exciting museums in Tallinn. It tells stories about the Estonian maritime and military history. The museum’s display, that comprises of more than a couple of hundred large exhibits, revitalizes the colourful history of Estonia.
British built submarine Lembit weighing 600 tones is the centrepiece of the new museum. Built in 1936 for the Estonian navy, Lembit served in the World War II under the Soviet flag. It remained in service for 75 years being the oldest submarine in the World still in use until it was hauled ashore in 2011. Despite its long history, Lembit is still in an excellent condition offering a glimpse of the 1930s art of technology.
Another exciting attraction is a full-scale replica of Short Type 184, a British pre-World War II seaplane, which was also used by the Estonian armed forces. Short Type 184 has earned its place in military history by being the first aircraft ever to attack an enemy’s ship with an air-launched torpedo. Since none of the original seaplanes have survived, the replica in Seaplane Harbour is the only full-size representation of the aircraft in the whole World.
Simulators mimicking a flight above Tallinn, around-the-world journey in the yellow submarine, navigating on the Tallinn bay make this museum heaven for kids or adventurous adults.
Seaplane Harbour operates in architecturally unique hangars built almost a century ago, in 1916 and 1917, as a part of Peter the Great sea fortress. These hangars are the World’s first reinforced concrete shell structures of such a great size. Charles Lindbergh, the man who performed the first solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean, landed here in 1930s.
On the outdoor area visitors can tour a collection of historic ships, including the Suur Tõll, Europe's largest steam-powered icebreaker.