The fortress of Lappeenranta forms a fortified town area with a grid plan laid out according to European ideals of fortification and protected by surrounding bastions. The main part of the fortress is on a cape extending into Lake Saimaa north of the centre of present-day Lappeenranta. The town and present city of Lappeenranta was founded at the site in 1649. At present, the fortress is a living culturally oriented part of Lappeenranta with museums, cafés, restaurants, crafts shops and approximately a hundred inhabitants. The fortress is the main historical attraction of Lappeenranta.
1649 The town of Lappeenranta is founded by Sweden at an old market site at the junction of routes of communication. The town is given its first regular grid plan.
1720s The Treaty of Uusikaupunki (Nystad) places Lappeenranta on the new border of Sweden and Russia and the fortification of the town is begun. The fortress consists of a series of bastions within which a garrison town is built according to a grid plan.
1721 Fortified town of Lappeenranta founded by Sweden. The fortress comprises an irregular bastion front designed by General Axel Löwen, within which a garrison town on a square plan is built along the lines of the model Renaissance ideal cities of the Mediterranean. Lappeenranta might be modelled on Valetta, the capital of Malta.
1740s-1750s After the Swedish-Russian War of 1741–1743, Sweden cedes territory and Lappeenranta becomes part of Russia. The Russians continue to build fortifications.
1770s-1780s A new plan is drawn up for the fortress. The oldest masonry buildings, a guards post, a commandant’s house, the Orthodox Church and barracks are built.
1790s Additions are made to the fortress under the direction of General Aleksandr Suvorov as part of a new system of defences for St. Petersburg.
19th c. The fortress of Lappeenranta is officially discontinued in 1810, having become unnecessary after the Swedish-Russian War of 1808 –1809. The fortress area, however, remains in the use of a garrison and new barracks and dwellings were built. Some of the buildings are converted into use as a prison. The defensive works are destroyed partly through neglect.
1910s Barracks, stables and stores are built for Russian troops. They are now in use as housing and facilities of various kinds.
1976-2007 Restoration work, repairs and archaeological excavations are carried out in the fortress area. The aim of the work is to partly restore the late 18th-century fortifications to their original appearance. Buildings in the area are renovated to serve new uses.
1990s The fortress becomes part of the city of Lappeenranta.
The renovation work has been a joint project involving the National Board of Antiquities, the Ministry of Labour and the city, and is nearing completion. Most of the historical stock of buildings has been renovated. The fortress has become a living and cultural part of the city. The former garrison buildings are now home to the South Karelian Museum and Art Museum, artists' and craft workshops, Lappeenranta's Orthodox church and parish hall, a children's art school and a café, among others. There is a road connection from Lappeenranta to Russia via Nuijamaa. The St. Petersburg-Helsinki train stops in Lappeenranta at Vainikkala station. In summer, there is a boat service from the fortress along the Saimaa Canal to Vyborg.
Contact information and driving instructions
Lappeenranta Tourist Information, Valtakatu 37, Lappeenranta (Guided tours and information for tourists).
View Larger Map