The Raseborg or Raasepori Castle is one the five remaining medieval castles in Finland. It was founded by Bo Jonsson Grip and it is thought that the castle's first phase was completed sometime between 1373 and 1378. The first written data about the castle is from 1378. Its main purpose was to protect Sweden's interests in southern Finland against the Hanseatic city of Tallinn. The castle was originally built on a small island in the north end of a sea bay. The historians think that the castle was built in 3 different stages over time from the 14th to the 16th century.
The ruins of the outer wall of the castle do still exist. According to the historians the outer wall was built to protect the foundations of the castle itself. When the use of the artillery got more common, it was vital to protect the basic walls of the castle. There was also one more protection outside the castle. That was a wooden barrier, which surrounded the castle and it prevented any foreign ships to approach the castle harbour. There still exists some small parts of that barrier. The barriers are today on the mainland, but in the 15th century they were located on a peninsula by the sea. The sea level became lower over time due to postglacial rebound, and it became increasingly difficult to approach the castle by boat. This is one of the main reasons why the castle lost its importance.
Battles were fought between Swedish and Danish forces and even pirates over control of the castle in the Middle Ages. The castle was abandoned in 1553, three years after Helsinki was founded in 1550 and Helsinki became strategically more important. Restoration work began in the 1890s and in these days the castle ruins are open to the public.References:
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.