Saturday, April 19, 2014

Suomenlinna Fortress, Finland

Suomenlinna is a fortress set up on six islands which are part of Helsinki.  It is a popular tourist destination and is only a short 15-minute ferry ride from the market square.

When Peter the Great moved the Russia's capital to St. Petersburg in 1703, he gave Russia a window on Europe and the Baltic Sea.

Sweden wasn't thrilled about Russian expansionism so, in 1748, when Finland was still part of Swedish kingdom, they started building a fortress to protect their eastern territory.

Ausustin Ehrensvärd was laid to rest here in 1783

Ausustin Ehrensvärd was the military architect put in charge of establishing the fortress which was originally called Sveaborg.  France wasn't too thrilled about Russian expansion either so they partially financed Sveaborg. 

In 1808, the fortress was surrendered to the Russians and it was a Russian garrison for the next 110 years.

The church opened in 1854.  The church steeple doubles as a lighthouse.  It's believed that there are only 3 such church/lighthouse combos that still exist in the world. 

When Finland gained independence from Russia in 1918, the fortress was renamed Suomenlinna (Castle of Finland).

In 1973 it was turned over to civilian authorities.  Thee islands have about 900 permanent residents.

In 1991, Suomenlinna was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site as a unique monument of military architecture. 

Here's a Rick Steves video from YouTube about Suomenlinna Fortress.

©Rick Steves

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