Kajaani Castle (Kajaanin linna)

Kajaani Castle



Location: Kajaani

Founded: 1604


History of Kajaani Castle

Kajaani Castle (Kajaneborg in Swedish) is located in Kajaani in Finland. Military fortifications consist of two towers and an inner courtyard protected by the walls on both sides. Kajaani Castle was constructed on a small island on the Kajaaninjoki river in 1604 to protect North- Southern region of the Swedish kingdom against the Russian armies as well as league of the Hanseatic cities. The construction of the citadel was carried out under supervision of Count Per Brahe who served as a Governor General of Finland in the years of 1637- 40 and again in 1648- 54. Several embrasures offered cannons a wide area of fire in all directions. It is no wonder that this formidable citadel served as a seat of a government as well as a prison. Swedish writer Johannes Messenius served several years in Kajaani Castle between 1616 and 1635.
During the Great Northern War Russian forces besieged Kajaani Castle and after 5 weeks the garrison surrounded after they ran out of food and firewood. The same year in March the Russian troops blew up the castle. Although the land was returned to the Swedish crown in 1721 the castle was abandoned and never reused for the military purposes. In the 20th century an island of the castle was connected to the banks of the river by a bridge for cars and pedestrians.


From construction to ruin
Construction work on Kajaani Castle began on the orders of King Charles IX in 1604. Foundation work began in 1604 and construction itself in 1605. At the beginning of the 17th century, Charles IX founded both the city of Oulu and Kajaani Castle in northern Finland. He thus wanted to strengthen Sweden's position of power in Kainuu, which the country had gained in the peace of Täyssinä in 1595. In addition, the castle would protect the inhabitants and settlers from Russian extermination expeditions. When completed, it was the northernmost stone castle in Europe. At the end of the 20th century, it was debated whether a castle or other building was present before the 17th century. On behalf of previous buildings, it has been argued that the location was strategically significant. No evidence of previous buildings has been found, and therefore Heikki Rytkölä, a researcher at the Kainuu Museum, for example, considers the assumed previous building to be too bold.

The construction of the castle began on the east side of Lake Oulujärvi on an island in the Kajaaninjoki rapids. It had to be able to defend itself against possible siege, and to build it, Charles IX was sent by the mason Isak Rasmuksenpoja. Construction work progressed slowly as there was a shortage of labor and building materials in the area. Gustav II Adolf ordered in 1619 construction work to be suspended. At this point, the castle made of gray stone was rectangular in shape and had a semicircular cannon tower at each end.

The castle remained unfinished and was used as a prison for the first few decades. It was considered a good prison for deportation, as it was located in a remote wilderness. The most famous prisoner of the castle was Johannes Messenius, a professor at Uppsala University, who was convicted for his connections with the Jesuits and the Pope. He was a prisoner in Kajaani Castle for almost 20 years, and in 1636 he was transferred to Oulu. During his imprisonment, Messenius wrote a multi-part historical work, Scondia illustrata.

In 1650, Count Peter Brahe received the Free Duchy of Kajaani as his province, and the following year Brahe founded the city of Kajaani in connection with the castle. Brahe wanted his counties to be run from representative administrative buildings, so between 1661 and 1666 the castle was converted into a noble castle. During the construction work, the castle was raised and the wooden residential buildings were replaced with brick ones. Samuel Lång, the castle manager, completed the construction work in 1665, when the courtyard walls were raised to the level of the outer walls. Kajaani Castle was allowed to remain the seat of the Free Duchy of Kajaani until 1681, when the county was revoked in connection with the reduction. The castle again became a voud castle, which was also responsible for the defense of the area.

The Great Northern War broke out in 1700, and Kajaani and its nearby villages were burned in 1712. The castle's commandant, Lieutenant Colonel Johan von Meurman, then began to strengthen the defense. The top floors of the towers were converted to fit cannons, a three-meter-thick layer of peat was laid over the walls, door and window openings were covered, and various obstacles were lowered to the shores. Kajaani Castle was Sweden's last base in Finland after Olavinlinna was overthrown in 1714. In March 1715, a Russian force arrived outside Kajaani Castle, demanding immediate surrender. Johan Henrik Fieandt led about 50 defenders held their ground, and the Russians remained absent for more than half a year. The Russians returned in December, when General Czech brought about 4,000 men to the scene. The Russians besieged the castle for five weeks, and Fieandt agreed to surrender on February 24, 1716. The Russians had promised to release the defenders and allow them to preserve their property. However, the promises were not kept, and the siege takers took everything with them and sent both soldiers and civilians as prisoners to Turku or Russia. The castle was blown up by General Czech in March 1716.

From the ruin castle to the restoration site
Kajaani Castle returned to Sweden in the peace of Uusikaupunki in 1721, and its reconstruction was considered on several occasions. The castle had a small garrison until the 1790s, but the walls still fell and its stones were used to build the stone legs of the houses. When Finland became part of the Russian Empire in 1809, the castle completely lost its military significance. However, Linnasaari remained a significant crossing point for the river, and old wooden bridges were maintained. A new wooden bridge was built on the ruins in 1845, which was used for almost a hundred years until the construction of the concrete bridge. To build the foundations of the wooden bridge, the central part of the ruin was lowered, and some stones taken from the site were used for its foundations.


Repairs to the castle ruins were first carried out in 1890 thanks to an appropriation granted by the Finnish Senate. In addition, the General Government of Public Buildings, which was the actual performer of the repairs, used its own funds for the restoration. The castle had been in ruins for almost two hundred years at the time, and the base and rooms were covered with a meter-thick layer of earth and stone. In addition, the walls were in such poor condition that they were feared to collapse. The restoration plan was drawn up by the most famous restoration architect of his time, Johan Jacob Ahrenberg. The castle was poorly restored in the summers of 1890–1892: collapses were repaired with a brick wall and the ruins were lowered. The brick patches remained in place when the ruins were rebuilt in 1910–1911.

The old wooden bridge became too narrow and in poor condition for the growth of car traffic in the early 20th century. Construction of a new reinforced concrete bridge began in the summer of 1936. Objects found in connection with the excavation of the bridge's foundations raised the need to rehabilitate the ruins. Parliament therefore allocated an appropriation for excavation and restoration work, which began in July 1937. The castle was stripped of soil and stone several meters thick and its walls were repaired and raised. The brickwork made in the previous restoration was replaced with gray stone. Approximately 1,800 finds were recovered during the excavations. At the initiative of the city of Kajaani, a new restoration project was carried out in the castle in 2001–2008. During the project, the National Board of Antiquities renovated the walls and studied the history of the building and the city built a footbridge on the island. For the accessibility of the ruins and tourism, new signs were developed and a restoration report and website were created.

The castle was built of natural stone mined and collected from the surrounding areas. The wall stones have a varied appearance, as many types of stone were suitable for construction. Limestone was probably excavated from Melalthti in Paltamo for the limestone used for masonry. The outer walls of the castles were often covered with a thin layer of lime mortar, and remnants of white liming have survived from Kajaani Castle. The window recesses, on the other hand, were red.

In the first phase of construction, completed in 1619, the castle included two round cannon towers and a single-storey perimeter wall between them. The castle also had two rectangular radiators and a gate tower at the north gate. The buildings inside the walls were wooden. The circumferential wall was about 39 meters long, 9.6 meters high, and 3.6 meters thick. A bridge led to the island from both the north and the south. The northern bridge was 50 meters and the southern 91 meters long. The gates were a weak point of the defense, and firing holes were aimed at them. In front of the gates were lifting bridges, the structure of which has little information left.

Wooden living quarters were later replaced by stone houses. Because vaulted ceilings were desired, four walls were built into the houses, even though they were attached to a perimeter wall. The stone houses followed the model of a mating: in the middle of them was a staircase with access to two rooms. The office building had two floors and its mezzanine floor was wooden. The upper floors were accessed along external stairs. The stone walls of the rooms were whitewashed. The commandant's living room had a brick floor, and the other rooms probably had a wooden floor. Against the northern wall of the castle were four rooms, a powder chamber, a living room, a staircase and a kitchen, under which there was also a cellar. On the second floor of the eastern tower was, from 1669, the so-called great hall.

Ground radar soundings and test excavations
Ior Bock has told in the saga of the Bock family that there would have been another castle in the past with a crusade treasure in the well. The story led to ground-based radar soundings by a private company, in which the observed reflection was interpreted as referring to a larger metal object at a depth of about 2.5 meters. Henrik Lilius, Director General of the National Board of Antiquities, suggested that one possible explanation for the reflection in the radar image could be an old cannon that would have remained underground. Later, researchers at the University of Oulu made similar observations. Archaeologist Kari Uotila excavated the ground radar site in June 2006 and found an electric cable at a depth of 40 centimeters, which was probably an object seen on the radar. According to the excavation, there is no well mentioned by the sword of the Bock family at the site. The ground layer at the alleged deep underground metal object is otherwise intact, so nothing could be hidden in it. In December 2006, researchers at the University of Oulu no longer found evidence of a large metal object in their new ground-penetrating radar soundings.


Kajaani Castle in fictional descriptions
In Zachris Topelius' historical novel, Välskär's stories are twice ignored in Kajaani Castle and its history. In the first episode of the novel, one of the protagonists, cavalry Gustav Bertel, meets in 1635 in the castle his beloved Princess Regina von Emmeritz. In the twists and turns of the plot, you will also meet the castle's most famous prisoner, the Swedish historian Johannes Messenius, and the Catholic Jesuit Hieronymus, who is collapsing in his political conspiracies. In the third episode of the novel, during the Great Northern War in 1716, Gustav Bertelsköld, a later representative of the Perttilä / Bertel family, a Caroline wounded in battle, experiences the siege of the Russians and the surrender of the castle with his wife. The events also feature real historical figures, Johan Henrik Fieandt, the castle manager, and Daniel Cajanus, a strong man born in Paltamo, who has since become famous throughout Europe, “Long Taneli”.

The siege of the castle and the distress of the women and children who fled there were described by the young Eino Leino in his first printed poem Kajaani Castle (Hämeen Sanomat 26.9.1890). In the poem, pity and a sense of military duty struggle in the mind of Fieandt, the tough master of the castle. Also in Ilmari Calamnius' poem Remembering the Past, Hoping for the Future, the ruins of Kajaani Castle first evoke warlike images of the past, but the poet announces the construction of a new kind of castle, where the “idea of ​​light” flies and the “power of spirit” reigns. The poem uttered at the folk high school lottery held in Kajaani in 1896 also appeared in print on the Ostrobothnian branch's Joukahainen album (no. 11, 1897).

Kajaani-based journalist-writer Jussi Kukkonen also played an important role in some historical novels by Kajaani Castle. The novel Kainuu returns (1942) is related to the so-called the expedition of the Russians to the Kajaani region, known as the Sarcasm War, in 1712. In the novel, the castle serves as a base for the guerrilla activity of local peasants in an attempt to resist the invader. The personal gallery also included the infamous Major Simo Affleck ("Hurtta"). The imprisoned Caroline (1946), who tells the story of Johan Henrik Fieandt, the chief of Kajaani Castle, and his family begins with the castle’s defensive battle against a superior enemy. Daniel Cajanus is also involved in Kukkonen's book as a novelist, following Fieandt's family to prison and their escape back to freedom.

In his poem collection Kajaneborg 1636, published in 2010, the Finnish-Swedish poet Lars Huldén has described the life and thoughts of the castle's famous prisoners, historian Johannes Messenius and poet and adventurer Lars Wivalius during their long and heavy prison years in the 17th century. The fate of Messenius as a prisoner of the castle has also been discussed by Juha Seppälä in his play The Prisoner of Kajaani Castle, which premiered at the Kajaani City Theater in 2001.

On July 7, 1951, a brown stamp worth 20 marks was issued in Finland in honor of the 300th anniversary of the city of Kajaani. In addition to the ruins of Kajaani Castle, the stamp shows the Koivukoski power plant and the towers of Kajaani Church (1896) designed by Jac Ahrenberg and the Kajaani Town Hall (1831) designed by Carl Ludvig Engel.