Suomenlinna Sea Fortress
Suomenlinna island - Helsinki (Uusimaa region), FINLAND
Suomenlinna is an inhabited sea fortress (one of the biggest of its kind in the world) built on a group of six islands (Kustaanmiekka, Susisaari, Iso-Mustasaari, Pikku-Mustasaari, Länsi-Mustasaari and Långören) and located off the coast of Helsinki, the capital city of Finland, lying on the shore of the Gulf of Finland, an arm of the Baltic Sea.
Suomenlinna was founded in 1748 by Augustin Ehrensvärd (1710-1772, a Swedish military officer, architect and artist), and built on a cluster of rocky skerries guarding the city harbor. The fortress, which consists of an irregular network of bastions, served as a strategic maritime stronghold for three countries: Sweden, Russia, and then Finland, as well as a base for the Swedish "Archipelago Fleet" (a branch of the armed forces of Sweden between 1756 and 1823). During the Russian occupation era, the fortress was extended both towards the sea and on the mainland. Suomenlinna sea fortress has then played a key role in many turning points in Finland’s history, and has been also included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site list in 1991 as an outstanding example representative of the general fortification principles of the 18th century European military architecture.
Suomenlinna island is also one of Finland’s most popular and beloved tourist attractions, and really has something for everyone, walls, cannons, tunnels, a submarine, museums. Besides the nature there is extremely diverse, the scenery ranges from parks, yards and herb gardens to natural beaches, wild meadows and earth-filled sandbanks. Many high-quality events take place in Suomenlinna every year. In the middle of the summer, historical costumes can be admired in the "Les Lumières" festival, and the open-air theatre offers unforgettable experiences. Battle scenes from the historical military camp are recreated in September. In October, it is time for Väkevä Viapori, the residents’ festival. Finally, the highlight of the winter season is the Arts & Crafts weekend, organized in the spirit of Christmas.
The Visitor Centre, situated in the middle of the fortress at Tykistölahti bay, is a powerful information point for visitors, as well as the starting point for the walking tours (the island is explored on foot). It also contains the Suomenlinna Museum exhibition. During the summer months there are daily guided tours in English, Swedish and Finnish around Suomenlinna. In the winter there are tours in English during the weekends. Finally, the island has a selection of restaurants and charming cafés.
Info & Contact
The Governing Body of Suomenlinna / Suomenlinna Hoitokunta
Address: Suomenlinna C 40, 00190 Helsinki, Finland
Tel.: +358 295338410 (Visitor Centre) | Fax: +358 295338435
Suomenlinna Fortress Historical Society / Sveaborg Seura Ry
Address: Lapinlahdenkatu 23 A 9 - Helsinki, Finland
Tel.: +358 453219039
Main image: aerial view of Suomenlinna fortress, Helsinki. Source: Migro [Public domain] via Wikimedia Commons
Further images: copyright by Historia Vivens Web unless otherwise credited
Text sources: The Governing Body of Suomenlinna, Suomenlinna Fortress Historical Society, Wikipedia
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