Monday, November 13, 2017

Suomenlinna - Castle of Finland


It was grey November day when I decided to visit the Suomenlinna fortress. The ferry from Helsinki fast arrived to the pier, cold waves of Baltic sea beat on a shore and large stones. Suomenlinna (known as Sveaborg or Viapori) is one of the most popular insular tourist attractions in Helsinki, Finland. Its name means in English 'Castle of Finland'. Despite weather the ferries to Suomenlinna can always get quite crowded.
I want to tell you about this place. When Sweden started building the fortress on islands it was to be just the sea fortress with additional landside fortifications, according to the needs of the Swedish archipelago fleet.

 Entrance to the fortress from a ferry pier

Later the next stage in the arming of Suomenlinna was when it became part of "Peter the Great's naval fortification" designed to safeguard the Russian capital, Saint Petersburg. 
Strolling in the fortress I saw granite fortifications from those years, they struck me with their shape and height. I walked over and touched the hewn granite blocks. They were warm to the touch!

The naval fortifications from  local granite stones and earth-covered barracks

During extensive earthworks barracks and the dockyards were built at the western and southern islands. On the island's square, I was surprised to see the low green hills. Getting accustomed I realized that they were barracks, buried in the stony ground. Their green grassy roofs were apparently disguises. For me it was strange to see such buildings. I've never seen so strange disguise before, probably the living in these barracks was damp and uncomfortable.

 
Fenced earth-covered fortifications

The fortress became part of the Independent Finland in 1917. Nowadays Suomenlinna is served by ferries all year, and a service tunnel supplying heating, water and electricity was built in 1982. Several buildings have been converted into artists' studios. During the summer there is an art school for children. I believe that the beautiful combination of old fortifications and the harsh northern nature of the islands inspires young artists.


 Fortress walls topped with earth and grass
 
Suomenlinna was recognized as a world heritage and the most popular tourist destination in Finland. Therefore I hardly found the time when no one disturbed me to take a photo of the chain sea gates to the fortress. Tourists are constantly taking pictures there.

The central entrance to the Suomenlinna fortress, chain gates.

Saying farewell to the 'Castle of Finland' I've taken the photo from the fortress high wall. The low grey clouds there were, in a distance above the sea the clear sky was seen.


Have you been to any fortress before? What was it like? Was it in touch with nature?

28 comments:

  1. I've never visited a fortress before. This is a very interesting place with a long history. Thank you for sharing it with us.
    Peter

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  2. Es muy interesante. Sí alguna vez estuve en alguna fortaleza, por España hay varias. Un beso.

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    1. Puede ser alguna vez, Teresa :-)
      Gracias!

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  3. Well, this is quite different from any fortress I have seen before. How interesting, I am not surprised it attracts so many tourist. In Greece when I was young there were many old castles, which are often completely overgrown with flowers and even trees because nobody was really bothered with them. They were not tremendously old, perhaps only 17th century, so by Greek standards quite new really :)

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    1. Sure these castles were not old for Greek people. This one is since 11 century, is old for us, Jenny.

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  4. You bring us to beautiful places! Never been to Finland and thank you for sharing this fortress

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  5. A strong fortress with thick, high granite walls to keep the enemy out as well as the winter storms. The hilly grassy barracks reminded me of the sunken grass covered homes at Skara Brae, Orkney. They would be well insulated against cold winters, but with only one door, ventilation could be a problem.
    The colour contrasts of the rocks would look pretty on a summer's day.
    The only fortress I can remember visiting was Harlech Castle in Wales. It stands in a dominating position and we were told, it was once accessible by sea as well as by land. Now the sea is approximately one kilometre away
    Thank you for sharing your visit. I am learning more about your part of the world.

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    1. I've not been thinking about ventilation, Betty. You're right - there is an only door in the barrack. The rocky shore looked amazing in that day too.
      I'm glad you liked my story about Suomenlinna.

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  6. So it happens that I live in a part of Germany where you can find many castles, castle ruins and fortresses from the middle ages. They were build on top of hills to protect the city or the piece of land around it. Famous places in my area which I have seen all are Würzburg, Nürnberg and Coburg. Should I make a post of one of it? In case you are interested in one of them - go to Nürnberg! Beautiful old city and by the way my hometown.
    I never was in Finland and also don't know that much about this country. So it was interesting to read your post, Nadezda.

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    1. Yes, I'm interested in visiting old castles, Sigrid and I would be interested in reading your post about one of them. When I've been to Munich I should go to Nürnberg . So next time!

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    2. Nadezda, so in case you would go one day to Nürnberg you have to tell me. Maybe we could meet us there!

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    3. I'd like to learn more about the medieval history of the city, Sigrid. Thank you for your proposal!

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  7. The earth-covered barracks were interesting. I hope they didn't have that ferry pier back in the olden days. A sharp shooter could pick guards right off the pier.

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    1. Ha, ha, yes they didn't. The pier was built later especially for tourists.
      Thank you!

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  8. Una fortaleza interesante. Me gustan mucho las cabañas cubiertas de hierba y el paisaje es hermoso.
    Que tengas un buen final de semana!

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    1. Un buen fin de semana a ti tambien, Tania!

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  9. I often forget how close you are to Scandinavian.

    We have visited a few fortresses - the most recent was Hadrian’s Wall where I fell down a ditch. It’s always a challenge to take photos when a place is crowded so you did really well to capture a natural scene,

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    1. Oh, dear, you fell down a ditch, terrible. I hope you're well now.
      Yes, Saint petersburg is close to Scandinavian countries, Sue. The 3 hours speed train trip is from Petersburg to Helsinki.

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  10. This is a wonderful post Nadezda and I always find the history behind these places to be fascinating. Thank you for taking us along on your journey.

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    1. You're welcome Lee. Glad you liked this virtual stroll.

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  11. I think my favorite fortress of all time was the Fortress of Europe in Istanbul.

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    1. I remember Jason you loved your journey to Istanbul. I'd like to see it as well!

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  12. This is so beautiful! There is nothing like this in the U.S., so we must travel to Europe and other parts of the world to see such ancient treasures. I remember standing in the Roman Forum for the first time and being overwhelmed thinking that people met there over 2000 years ago. Here in the U.S. any structure over 100 years is considered "old":)

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  13. Great pictures! Have a nice weekend Nadezda;-))

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