Did you know that Helsinki is actually an archipelago made up of 330 islands? The Suomenlinna fortress, also known as the Castle of Finland, is part of those islands in the Baltic Sea, but the difference is that this particular island is one of Helsinki’s most historic attractions and also one of the most popular tourist attractions. So, where does the nickname the “Castle of Finland” come from? Well, Suomenlinna Island has a long and important history for the Finns. Finland was first colonised by Sweden from medieval times until around the 19th century. During this time, Sweden was at war with Russia and Suomenlinna fortress was built as a defense against the Russians. Construction of the Suomenlinna fortress began in 1748 and was called Sveaborg. Fast forward a century and Finland was then occupied by Russia and formed part of the Grand Duchy of Finland. The fortress was renamed to Peter the Great’s Naval Fortress and Suomenlinna Island was then used as a defence against the Swedish instead and was used to protect the city of St Petersburg in Russia.
In 1917 Finland finally gained its independence and a year later they released the fortress from Russian rule.
The fortress was renamed Suomenlinna or the “Castle of Finland” and it was handed back to its rightful owners, the Finns. Although it’s called “The Castle of Finland”, Ironically it is no castle but nonetheless it is a symbol of Finnish independence and strength.
Later it became a Finnish Artillery and continued as an army base until around 1970 when it came under civilian administration. In 1991, it was declared a UNESCO world heritage site and nowadays it is one of the most popular attractions in Finland.