World Heritage #0583 – Suomenlinna

Last modified 28.03.2022 | Published 26.05.2018Finland, North and Central Europe, World Heritage Sites

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Now a museum, the fortress of Suomenlinna was the largest naval fortress ever in the Nordic countries. It offers more than 200 years of military history. Sveaborg, or Suomenlinna, is one of Finland’s most visited landmarks – right outside Helsinki.

The UNESCO World Heritage List includes more than a thousand properties with outstanding universal value. They are all part of the world’s cultural and natural heritage.


Official facts

  • Full name of site: Fortress of Suomenlinna
  • Country: Finland
  • Date of Inscription: 1991
  • Category: Cultural site

UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre’s short description of site no. 583:

Built in the second half of the 18th century by Sweden on a group of islands located at the entrance of Helsinki’s harbour, this fortress is an especially interesting example of European military architecture of the time. (…) In the history of military architecture, the Fortress of Suomenlinna is an outstanding example of general fortification principles of the 17th and 18th centuries, notably the bastion system, and also showcases individual characteristics. 


My visit

In the 18th century Finland had for long been part of Sweden. Russian emperors were beginning to assert their interests in the Baltic Sea from their newly established naval base near St. Petersburg. The Swedes began from 1748 and onward gradually to construct a fortress outside Helsingfors (Helsinki). On a group of six islands the layout of the fortress employed ideas from the best sources possible in European military defence. Nonetheless, it failed to stall a Russian attack during the Napoleonic wars and as a consequence Finland as a country became a dominion under Russia until the end of Russian Empire in 1917. 

My visit 101 years later was rewarded with bright sunshine and late spring high temperatures, luring almost the entire population of Helsinki out on the islands. There is a frequently running boat service from the Market square in central Helsinki all day long. It was in short a lovely day. We had a drink at a brewery near the pier and we walked the length of the trails to the very end. There we had pizza inside one of the many mounds before returning to the jetty. 

There are cannons, fortified walls and various buildings all over the premises. Old and young will have a wonderful time out here on the fortress of Sveaborg, or Suomenlinna. 

Read more about my visit.

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