The Finland castles, most of which are found in the
southern part of the country, are among the more interesting Finland attractions. Not
only are they architecturally attractive, but they are
also historically important. There was a time in the history
of Finland when Sweden ruled the land, and for centuries the Swedish crown feared
invasions from Russia.
As such, Finland castles were erected across the land
to help protect some of Sweden’s main settlements.
Today, some of the Finland castles lay mostly in ruins,
while others have been immaculately restored and look
much like they did when they were originally built. Whenever
close to a castle in Finland, ruined or not, it’s
worth your time to take a closer look, as they are some
of the oldest structures in the country.
Of all the Finland castles, Olavinlinna Castle is easily among the most impressive. No other still-standing, medieval castle in the world is found further north than this imposing structure. It is undoubtedly the main attraction in the small city of Savonlinna, which is none too far from the Russian border. The city of Savonlinna was actually founded around the Olavinlinna Castle in 1639, and by that time, the castle had already been standing for more than 150 years. Olavinlinna Castle itself was founded in1475, and it was built by Swedes in order to keep invading Russians at bay. The Russians, however, would ultimately take the castle in 1743, and when visiting the castle today, you will want to note the upper parts of the towers, which were added under Russian rule. These additions are of a brownish color, making them easy to notice.
These days, Olavinlinna Castle houses two museums, one that has religious artifacts on display, and another that shows general artifacts related to the castle. The castle is also the setting for the Savonlinna Opera Festival, which is one of the most highly-renowned summertime festivals in Finland. Tours of the Olavinlinna Castle, like most of the castles in Finland, are offered for a fee and are certainly recommended. Savonlinna is easily reached using public transportation from the larger cities of Helsinki, Kuopio, and Turku.
Speaking of the city of Turku, which deserves inclusion on any Finland vacation itinerary, you’ll find another one of the most-visited Finland castles here. The Turku Castle, though largely restored, is one of the oldest buildings still in use in the Nordic countries. The first stone at Turku Castle was laid way back in 1280, and the structure was originally a military fortress. Over time, it would be built up and strengthened, eventually serving as the main administrative hub of Swedish-ruled Finland for quite some time. These days, much like Olavinlinna Castle, the Turku Castle is mostly a museum, and one of the more popular Finland museums at that. You can also catch some great Medieval reenactments at the Turku Castle. Before or after visiting the Turku Castle, those looking to visit more Finland castles can head northeast to tour Hame Castle in Hameenlinna, or due east to explore the Kuusisto Castle in Kaarina.
The Kuusisto Castle in Kaarina is very easily reached from Turku, and while it is mostly ruined, it is worth a look. Believed to have been built in the fourteenth century, Kuusisto Castle was demolished in 1528 during the Protestant Reformation. In the late 1800s, excavations and reconstruction efforts brought some of the castle back to life. Hame Castle, as opposed to Kuusisto Castle, has been well restored and offers a more complete structure to tour. The exact age of Hame Castle is unknown, but most scholars believe that it was erected in the early fourteenth century. A royal castle in medieval times, Hame Castle eventually became a prison in the 1800s. You can note the grey-colored, lower stone section of Hame Castle, which was the original structure, and topping that section is the red-bricked addition that came centuries later.
While the aforementioned Finland castles were originally built long ago, there is one castle in Finland that is brand new every year. In the northern Lapland town of Kemi, the renowned Snow Castle attracts a curious bunch of tourists who are not only looking to see the castle, but to also spend a night in it. Lapland hotels don’t get more unique than the Snow Castle’s hotel, which features rooms etched entirely out of ice and snow. Though cold, these hotel rooms are actually slept in, and the sleep is quite comfortable. For those who are interested in the Snow Castle Finland lodging experience, booking in advance is the way to go since rooms here go quick. There is also a wedding chapel at the Snow Castle, not to mention an art gallery and some restaurants. The Snow Castle in Finland melts every year in the spring, so you’ll have to visit in the winter if you want to see it.