Discovering Helsinki’s Ancient Sea Fortress

By August 27, 2015Europe, Scandinavia

We spent the day clambering through stone garrisons, retreating into camouflaged bunkers, and bringing hip hop to an ancient sea fortress.

We took a 15 minute ferry ride to Suomenlinna, a sea fortress first built by the Swedish royalty in the 17th century to protect their new Finnish colony from the Russians. It wasn’t much of a deterrent, however, as the Russians easily captured the fort and turned it into a Russian base of operations. After Finland gained its independence and retook the island, its military eventually gave it up to the municipality in 1973 to turn it into an open-air museum.

A 15 minute ferry ride from Helsinki is Suomenlinna, a sea fortress that was first built by the Sweds, then taken by the Russians, and finally given to the Finnish and declared an UNESCO World Heritage site for good measure.

The fortress walls of Suomenlinna.

The fortress walls of Suomenlinna.

Vesikko, a Finnish WW2-era submarine that saw action against the Nazis

A retired Finnish submarine from World War 2 sits on its banks.

The fortress walls of Suomenlinna.

Suomenlinna is a little less combative and a bit more quaint these days. Bring a blanket and snacks for a picnic lunch.


Our travel fam :)

Dancing on Suomenlinna

Bombastically American. Alice and Kel show the Finnish how the Nae Nae is done.


Suomenlinna actually stretches over 6 islands and is lined with picturesque beaches. Pack a bathing suit and be prepared for frigid, but gloriously blue water.


Just jump. Photo Credit: David Zhou

You might expect a hobbit to pop out of one of the bunkers on the island.

You might expect a hobbit to pop out of one of the bunkers on the island.

On the fortress walls

On the fortress walls.

Cannons on Suomelinna

Emily and Kel put the cannons to use. Photo Credit: Calvin Sun.

Popping out of a bunker on Suomenlinna

Popping out of a bunker, my hobbit home. Photo Credit: Calvin Sun.


Going home.

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