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Olavinlinna Castle (St. Olaf’s Castle)

Inaccessible, located on an island in a strait of the Lake Saimaa, a medieval fortress Olavinlinna is not only a symbol of the town of Olavinlinna, but also one of the most famous castles in Finland. Its another name – Olofsborg – is reminiscent of the Swedish period in the castle’s history, as it used to be one of the most powerful outposts of the Kingdom of Denmark and Sweden, located at the border with the Grand Duchy of Moscow. Today, the restored building enjoys great popularity not only among tourists, but also among classical music lovers, who come here for an annual festival opera festival taking place within the walls of the fortress.

History of Olavinlinna Castle

History of the castle starts at the end of the 15th century, as the Kingdom of Denmark and Sweden was seriously concerned about the state of defence of its eastern borders, being approached by the Grand Duchy of Moscow after incorporating Novgorod. As part of support for Vyborg, the only fortress located on the border with Russian lands, it was decided to erect another fortress, for which works started in 1475. A Danish knight Erik Axelsson Tott, having experience in construction of Vyborg’s fortifications, has been designated as the person responsible for erection of the new castle. Initially, the fortress was called Nyslott, which translates as – “The New Castle”, but later it took the name of Olofsborg – “St. Olaf’s Castle”, which in Finnish is Olavinlinna. (more)

What can you see there?

Today, Olavinlinna Castle is the most popular tourist centre of Finland. It has become famous not only for its architecture or rich history, but mainly for a great cultural and entertaining programme. Behind its walls, there are now museums dedicated not only to its history or history of the whole region, but to the art of Orthodox iconography as well. There are thematic events of every kind held on the premises of the castle: medieval fair, knights’ tournaments, events on the occasion of the city festival, Christmas, Easter, New Year’s Day and other holidays.

Savonlinna Opera Festival, which takes place behind the walls of the castle for many years in a row, has gained immense popularity. Up to 60 thousand visitors come to the festival, which lasts for a month. They have the opportunity to enjoy opera performances with participation of international performers. In addition, there are also organized concerts of more modern genres as well as Gala Concerts of Dance Open ballet festival.

Olvinlinna Castle can be visited:

January 2 – May 31 and August 15 – December 15 – from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
(Monday – Friday), from 11 a.m. to 16 p.m. (Saturday – Sunday)
June 1 – August 14 – daily from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
 
Text Nelya Terehova