The historic Suomenlinna fortress is known as the ‘Castle of Finland”. Visiting the castle is one of the top things to do while visiting Helsinki, Finland.
Suomenlinna is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are six museums located on the Suomenlinna site.
The fortress was created in the 1700s by Swedish military officer and architect Augustin Ehrensvärd.
Ehrensvärd was also responsible for creating the Swedish archipelago fleet.
If you plan to visit several museums during your stay in Finland, there is a Museum Card available for purchase.
Top things to do at Suomenlinna fortress ‘Castle of Finland”
1. Go on a walking tour of the Castle of Finland
The 1.5 km long walking tour is along the ‘Blue Route’. It begins at the Visitor’s Centre in the stone building with the vaulted tin roof, called the Jetty Barracks.
The Jetty Barracks was built around 1868 by the Russians. The barracks, during peace time could hold 250 soldiers. It now serves as the visitor’s centre, cafe, artist gallery and Suomenlinna Brewery and Cafe.
2. Take in the views from the Kings Gate
Stand in the framed marble-stoned Kings Gate to admire sweeping harbour views. The gate, built around 1753, is the grand entrance to the fortress.
A double draw bridge and stairs made from Swedish limestone were added in the 1770s.
3. Visit the Great Courtyard Tomb
The tomb of architect Augustin Ehrensvärd is found in the Great Courtyard.
After Ehrensvärd death in 1772, King Gustav III of Sweden designed his tomb with Augustin’s son Carl August Ehrensvärd and Johan Tobias Sergel.
The monument was completed in the early 1880s.
The courtyard was badly damaged in 1885 during the Crimean War.
Grave site of Augustin Ehrensvärd, a Swedish military officer, military architect, artist, creator of the fortress and the Swedish archipelago fleet. Suomenlinna is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. Photo archives of the Governing Body of Suomenlinna, Photographer Dorit Salutskij©
4. See the Suomenlinna Cannons
Investigate the historic cannons of Suomenlinna Fortress.
5. Ehrensvärd Museum
Find out about the history of the Swedish era of the fortress at the Ehrensvärd Museum.
6. The Toy Musuem
Explore the Toy Museum’s antique dolls and teddy bears from the 1800s up to the 1960s. It also has a special collection of wartime toys.
7. Vesikko Submarine museum
Climb aboard the restored Finnish Vesikko Submarine museum, which opened in 1978.
8. Suomenlinna Museum
Discover more about the history of the fortress at the Suomenlinna Museum.
9. Military Museum
Learn about the Finnish defence forces and its history at the Military Museum’s Manege.
10. Customs Museum
Gather interesting facts about Finland’s history of customs and smuggling at the Customs Museum.
Getting to Suomenlinna
Take a 20 minute ferry service from Market Square in Helsinki, Finland. There is no entrance fee for the fortress, but there is a charge for each of the six museums on the Suomenlinna site.
- Sweden built and ruled the fortress from 1748-1808.
- The fort was originally called Viapori.
- Russia seized the fort after the Russo-Swedish War and ruled here from 1808-1918.
- Finland gained its independence from Russia in 1917 at the time of the Russian Revolution.
- Suomenlinna officially transferred to Finland in 1918 after the Finish Civil War.
- Suomenlinna became a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1991.
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