Some of us love to explore the countryside in a new place, and for many of us, castles top the list of must-see attractions. They take us to another time, long past, and just seeing an old castle is a feast for the imagination.
While not renowned for its castles, Finland does have some wonderful old castles which will appeal to anyone who loves to step back in time to a feudal past. Here are some that we recommend for anyone wanting to take a trip to find castles “off the beaten track” in Finland…
- Turku Castle was founded in the thirteenth century at the site of a trading post on the Aura River. The castle was built on an island as a fortified camp with four gateways, based on the design of ancient Roman citadels. By the fourteenth century three of the gates had been walled and the castle was progressively extended. Turku Castle was used as a Finnish seat for the Swedish king, and all of Sweden was ruled from here during 1555-1556. Turku is located in Finland’s southwest.
- Hame Castle was built in the Hame wilderness of southern Finland and probably dates to the 1290’s on order of the Swedish king. It was originally a defence centre, but later became a centre for administration. Unlike other early Finnish castles, much of Hame Castle is brickwork, and its design resembles German and Prussian castles of the Middle Ages.
- Raseborg Castle, founded in 1374, was the seat of the administrative bailiff for the southwest coast of Finland. It was a base for handling trade with Reval (now known as Tallinn), collecting taxes on fish, butter, timber and furs, as well as receiving imports of salt, grain, spices, grain, fabric and wine. It is today a well preserved ruin in Uusimaa (west of Helsinki) and definitely worth a trip.
- Olavinlinna Castle in Savonlinna was the first Finnish castle built for defence in the era of firearms. Located in the northern Karelia wilderness, it is situated on an island in a lake, and dates to 1475. The Swedes built it as a border demarcation against the Russians. The master builders were brought in from Tallinn in Estonia, and the style of the castle reflects this. The castle was besieged by the Russians in 1495 and 1496, withstanding the attack on both occasions.
These are just some of the Finland castles you might enjoy on a self-guided trip in Finland.
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