Olavinlinna ("St. Olaf's Castle" or "Olofsborg") is one of the greatest medieval castles in Finland. It was built to secure the eastern border of the Kingdom of Sweden-Finland. The construction started in 1475 by Erik Axelsson Tott. Russians disturbed construction work sequently, because the castle was sited in Savonia to the Russian side of the border established by the Treaty of Nöteborg. Olavinlinna was completed probably in 1483 and there were first a main castle and three towers (Church Tower, Bell Tower and St. Erik's Towers).
Olavinlinna withstood several sieges by the Russians during the First and Second Russian-Swedish wars. Gustav Vasa ordered to erect fourth tower (a "Fat Tower") in 16th century and fifth ("Kilj Tower") was built in the 17th century. The castle was conquered first time by the invading Russians in Great Northern War on 28 July 1714. St. Erik's Tower was badly damaged in cannon fire and Russians demolished it. Olavinlinna was returned to Swedish in Treaty of Uusikaupunki, but they lost it constanly only 23 years later in the end of the Russo-Swedish War of 1741-1743.
Russians enhanced Olavinlinna fortifications and it withstood the siege of Swedish in the war of Gustav III in 1788. The Fat Tower was destroyed in an explosion of gunpowder supply in 1791. When Russians occupied Finland in 1809, Olavinlinna lost its defensive status. It was used as garrison, storage and prison and was abandoded in 1850s. Renovation was started in the end of the 19th century.
Currently, the castle hosts several small exhibitions, including the Castle Museum which displays artifacts found in the castle or related to it, and the Orthodox Museum which displays icons and other religious artifacts both from Finland and Russia. The castle forms a spectacular stage for the Savonlinna Opera Festival, held annually in the summer since 1912.
Olavinlinna is the initial model for Kropow Castle in the comic book King Ottokar's Sceptre, an album in the series of Adventures of Tintin created by Hergé.
The Château de Chaumont was founded in the 10th century by Odo I, Count of Blois. The purpose was to protect his lands from attacks from his feudal rivals, Fulk Nerra, Count of Anjou. On his behalf the Norman Gelduin received it, improved it and held it as his own. His great-niece Denise de Fougère, having married Sulpice d'Amboise, passed the château into the Amboise family for five centuries.
Pierre d'Amboise unsuccessfully rebelled against King Louis XI and his property was confiscated, and the castle was dismantled on royal order in 1465. It was later rebuilt by Charles I d'Amboise from 1465–1475 and then finished by his son, Charles II d'Amboise de Chaumont from 1498–1510, with help from his uncle, Cardinal Georges d'Amboise; some Renaissance features were to be seen in buildings that retained their overall medieval appearance. The château was acquired by Catherine de Medici in 1550. There she entertained numerous astrologers, among them Nostradamus. When her husband, Henry II, died in 1559 she forced his mistress, Diane de Poitiers, to exchange Château de Chaumont for Château de Chenonceau which Henry had given to de Poitiers. Diane de Poitiers only lived at Chaumont for a short while.
Later Chaumont has changed hands several times. Paul de Beauvilliers bought the château in 1699, modernized some of its interiors and decorated it with sufficient grandeur to house the duc d'Anjou on his way to become king of Spain in 1700. Monsieur Bertin demolished the north wing to open the house towards the river view in the modern fashion.
In 1750, Jacques-Donatien Le Ray purchased the castle as a country home where he established a glassmaking and pottery factory. He was considered the French "Father of the American Revolution" because he loved America. However, in 1789, the new French Revolutionary Government seized Le Ray's assets, including his beloved Château de Chaumont.
The castle has been classified as a Monument historique since 1840 by the French Ministry of Culture. The Château de Chaumont is currently a museum and every year hosts a Garden Festival from April to October where contemporary garden designers display their work in an English-style garden.