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Olavinlinna Castle or Saint Olaf's Castle

Olavinlinna Castle

Olavinlinna Castle or Saint Olaf's Castle is located in Savonlinna, Southern Savonia in Finland. Despite its untraditional look Olavinlinna Castle was far from merely a aesthetically pleasant citadel.



Location: Savonlinna, Southern Savonia  Map


Erected: 1475




History of Olavinlinna Castle

Sweden and Novgorod Republic (one of many Russian principalities) divided Finland in separate areas according to Orechovec Peace Treaty of 1323. However the borders were not carved in stone and both sides intruded on each others possessions. This had to stop and in 1475 ruler of Vyborg Erik Axelsson Tott constructed Olavinlinna Castle to draw a line of Swedish presence here. He chose a small island between lakes Hankivesi and Pinlajavesi for his future Olavinlinna fortress. Novgorod Russians obviously were very unhappy with Swedish demarcation of the fluctuating line, so they tried to sabotage the construction. This included sinking of barges filled with building material, attacks on construction camps of stone masons from Revel and many ways to slow down or halt the erection of a new citadel.


Nevertheless was quickly proved to be worth the effort and the money. Having withstood Russian sieges in the First (1495- 97) when Olavinlinna Castle was besieged twice by Moscow Prince Ivan III and Second (1554-57) Russian- Swedish wars when it withstood siege with a garrison of only 200 men it protected the claims in the region. With the improvement of firepower Olavinlinna Castle became largely obsolete. It was captured in 1714 by the Russians in the course of the Northern War waged by the emperor Peter the Great and in 1743 it fell to Russians again after just 2 days of siege. Finland became part of the Russian Empire in 1809 and Olavinlinna Castle held a small garrison of Russian troops until 1850 when it became a prison. In 1860 it withstood two major fires and was abandoned. Only in 1912 reconstruction began that turned this romantic medieval citadel into an arena for opera festivals held here from 1912 to 1917 and again revived after 1967. Today Olavinlinna Castle become a scene for theater for drama, ballet and other forms of art.



Finish military know how


Olavinlinna Castle  As you enter Olavinlinna Castle you might wondering what is the purpose of this strange thing hanging on the side of one of the towers. It's the toilet. Did you ever try to climb up a wall covered in human feces? It must be pretty hard and unpleasant. Finish engineers thought so too and added this minor detail to add insult to the injury to anyone who tried to take Olavinlinna Castle.



















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