Olavinlinna is the main historical monument and symbol of the city of Savonlinna. Tens of thousands of tourists visit the castle every year to discover its colourful history. Olavinlinna Castle is situated on a small rocky island in the Lake Saimaa water system of eastern Finland. The building of the castle as a defensive stronghold began in 1475, after which its owners have changed on many occasions. Various events for the public are organized in the castle throughout the year, and wedding receptions, among other functions, are held in its rentable premises. A museum shop, a catering restaurant and a cafeteria in the summer season serve visitors.
1475 the construction of Olavinlinna Castle begins. In the Middle Ages, most of present-day Finland belonged to the Kingdom of Sweden, which formed the Kalmar Union together with Denmark and Norway. The castle with five towers was built for the defence of the eastern border of the Union.
16th century King Gustavus Vasa of Sweden promoted the settlement of the wilderness and Olavinlinna Castle becomes the centre of a new administrative province assigned to a castle and bailiff district. During the reign of Gustavus Vasa, the towers of the main castle are raised in height. The artillery tower of the bailey, which was in poor condition, is replaced by a new artillery tower.
17th century The border of the Swedish realm is moved eastward thus diminishing the defensive use of Olavinlinna Castle and the number of soldiers posted there. It becomes a military base and state and political prisoners are kept there. The old tower of the outer bailey is replaced with a new artillery tower.
1638 Governor-General Per Brahe visits Olavinlinna Castle, and the town of Savonlinna is founded in 1639 according to his proposal.
1714-1721 During the Great Northern War, Olavinlinna Castle falls into the hands of the Russians and suffers considerable damage. The St Eric’s Tower is demolished due to damage that it suffered during the siege of the castle. After the war, Sweden loses its former position as a leading power. Olavinlinna Castle is returned to Swedish control and repairs are carried out.
1743 Sweden is at war with Russia from 1741 to 1743, losing more territories, including Olavinlinna Castle, which becomes a Russian border fortification with a large Russian garrison. The Russians carry out many repairs and improve the defences of the castle. .
1790s Olavinlinna Castle is fortified to serve as part of General Aleksandr Suvorov’s system of fortifications for the defence of St. Petersburg. Among other features, the so-called Suvorov Channel is built at the castle.
19th Century As Finland becomes part of the Russian Empire, the castle’s military role comes to an end and the garrison is moved out. Olavinlinna Castle served as a prison from 1855 to 1861.
1860s Two disastrous fires in the castle. In the 1870's, gradual restoration of Olavinlinna as a monument begins.
1912 The first Opera Festival is held at Olavinlinna on the initiative of the singer Aino Ackté.
1960's The restoration of the castle begins with the aim of restoring it as much as possible to its original appearance, to develop it into a cultural centre and to preserve its value as a historical monument.
1967 The Opera Festival becomes an annual summer event. In 1973 the castle yard is covered over to protect it from rain.
1975 The restoration of Olavinlinna Castle is completed for its 500th anniversary celebration. A turning pontoon bridge is built for the public, replacing the earlier connection by boat to the castle.
2000 The rain awning and auditorium of the Great Courtyard are renewed for the use of summer events.
Contact information and driving instructions
Tel +358 15 531 164
Fax +358 15 510 585
GPS Lat (ETRS89/WGS84): 61,86378979°
Lon (ETRS89/WGS84): 28,90128007°
Olavinlinna Castle is situated on a rocky islet in the Kyrönsalmi stream. If one is coming to the castle from the west it is best to drive past the Savonlinna Market square and Passenger harbor. From there on signs lead to Linnankatu street and to Olavinlinna. If one is coming from the east one can drive straight from highway 14 to Tottinkatu street, which has signs leading to Linnankatu street and to Olavinlinna.
In the winter parking spots can be found nearby the castle along Linnankatu street. Cars can also be left in a car park located on Tottinkatu street.
During summer (June-August) travelers should take into account special traffic arrangements and traffic signs.
Linnankatu street leads to Olavinlinna. Many other tourist attractions can be found along the street, for example Nestori - Saimaa Nature Centre, Riihisaari - Savonlinna Provincial Museum and some shops and cafes.
It is even possible to come to Olavinlinna by boat, on a charter cruise (depends on the water level).
City of Savonlinna.
Medieval Association “Mustan Virran Кeskiaikaseura”
Guild of St.Olav
Savonlinna Travel: http://www.savonlinna.travel
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