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Search for the Coastal Life

1799In the summer time there is a good opportunity to drive around and learn a bit about your motherland. For example, the counties of South-East and Southern Finland are quite unknown territories for me, as I'm originated from the Central Finland.

So, luggage and wife into the car and heading towards south-east!


17411717As I was driving recklessly from Oulu, I was thinking of the possibility to see the southern coastal areas of Finland in this trip. The coast, after all, has played a great role in the Finnish history of the foreign relations, including the sea trading and the politics. Also the local culture is heavily influenced by the Swedish and Russian conquerors in the past history.

However, before heading to the southern coastal area, there was a stop of couple of days in the region of South Karelia, in the city of Jouseno. The driving route went through regions of Pohjois-Savo and Etelä-Savo, taking some eight hours to drive (about 700 km).


17481766Banks of Lake Saimaa

If not near the sea, Joutseno is located quite next to the Lake Saimaa. Saimaa is the fourth biggest lake in Europe, having surface of 4 400 square kilometers! However, Saimaa is more like a system of lakes and rives rather than a one big lake, having shoreline of incredible 148 850 kilometers.

We lived a nice hotel right next to the Saimaa in Joutseno. The hotel rented rowboats, so it was nice to have a small rowboat trip in the evening sun.

Imatrankoski rapids

Next to the Joutseno is a town of Imatra. Imatra is famous for the Imatrankoski rapids — they are said to be the oldest tourist attraction in Finland. The tourism started already in the year 1772 when Empress Catherine II of Russia came to admire this waterway. Nowadays there is a power plant so the rapids do not run freely, but luckily the dams are opened every day for the tourists.1762



1758Right next to the rapids stands a castle-looking hotel, called Valtionhotelli. If you are visiting the Imatra surroundings and want to stay near the city center, this is the place to stay.

1768Way to the southern coast

After the couple of days nearby Saimaa, the trip continued towards Gulf of Finland. Unfortunately the Finnish weather cannot be trusted even in July, demonstrated in Lappeenranta with continuous rain. Luckily last time I visited the city, it was sunny and bright!


Old Hamina

17711778First coastal town I arrived was Hamina. Hamina was established in 1653, during the Great Power period of Sweden. In that time, Finland was a part of Sweden and the coastline towns in Gulf of Finland were already then important for the sea trading.

During the several wars in 17th and 18th century, Hamina was located in the both sides of the border (Russia and Sweden), and therefore there was a great need to build a fortress around the town by both Russians and Swedish in turns.

Later when Hamina (and the rest of the Finland) ended for Russians in 1812, there was no need for the fortress anymore. However, Russians established military boarding school to Hamina and even today the city is famous for The School of Reserve Officers.

17771774Well, it was a quite rainy day when arrived to Hamina, so not much chances for a decent photography or sightseeing. But we did get the best lunch ever, as we ended to the restaurant of Haminan Varuskuntakerho ("the garrison club of Hamina").

The restaurant building was built in 1863 for the director of the cadet school and lot of the original decor has been preserved since. Later the building has functioned also as a club for the officers before entering to the restaurant use. If you visit Hamina, this restaurant is definitely the place to have a lunch or a dinner!


1801Artistic Porvoo

The city of Porvoo is located quite near to the Finnish capital Helsinki. Porvoo is the hometown of Finland's national poet's, Johan Ludvig Runeberg. The most famous finnish painter, Albert Edelfelt was born at Kiiala manor in Porvoo. No wonder there is a some kind of artistic mood around the city!

18061791The history goes along with the history of Hamina. One of the most important moments of the Finland's national development took place in Porvoo when the Russian emperor Alexander I annexed Finland to Russia as an autonomous Grand Duchy in 1809. I think that was a kind of starting point for the road to the independency of Finland.

The past look and feel in Old Porvoo has been preserved definitely well. It was nice to walk around the narrow rock streets and imagine what the life has been ages ago.

1789Relaxing in Haikko Manor

There are several great old manors in the Porvoo area, also thanks to the Russian royalties who visited area often. Current main building of Haikko Manor is quite new, however, because the previous one was burned down in 1911. The new manor has been designed by Armas Lindgren.

18121785Nowadays Haikko is a hotel with beautifully preserved furniture. Haikko resort offer also possibilities for spa, conferences and weddings, for example.

The museum of Albert Edelfelt is located in Haikko. I climbed on top of the same hill where Edelfelt did one of his landscape paintings. Unfortunately I was little bit late for capturing the best sunset view.

18161818Raseborg castle ruins

After staying couple of days in Porvoo area, I continued further to south. First stop was the Raseborg (Raasepori) castle ruins. Raseborg has always been my favorite castle as it is not modernized for boring conference or meeting facilities.

Raseborg was built in the 14th century, probably in 1374 as for a fortress. In that time there was an access from the sea right next to the castle.

After the establishment, there has been several stages and owners in the castle history (that you can read from the books and web). The most probable source for the castle name is Ratzeburg castle located in Germany. If you are nearby Tammisaari, Raseborg castle ruins are definitely worth of visiting.

18261828End of Finland — arriving to Hanko

After half an hour drive from Raseborg the road suddenly ended to sea. Obliviously this was the end of Finland — I had arrived to the southernmost city in Finland, Hanko.

Hanko is very beautiful sea faring town in the very Southern Finland. In the 19th century Hanko was the most important marine city in Finland, and also very famous of it's spas.

The sea has been naturally an important element for Hanko from the beginning, so practically the town is surrounded by harbors, harbor structures, lighthouses (if you possibility visit Bengtskär's lighthouse island, go for it!) and so on.


18371830Although I didn't have too much time for staying in Hanko, I ended up to quite special café called The House of the Four Winds (photos above and left). From the café you have a stunning (almost) 180° view to the sea and most cozy atmosphere inside.

The café has an interesting history, as one of the owners has been Marshal G.G.E. Mannerheim. Mannerheim had a summer cottage right next to the café and bought the café to get rid off partying people who came to café to drink so called "hard tea" during the Prohibition in 1919-1932. Good old Marshal! :)

1854Final destination — Turku

1847Turku is one of the most historical cities in Finland. In the 13th century Turku was already turning to a relative big population center, being one of the first cities established in Finland. Turku was the center place of religious and administrative activity of Finland since then.

Turku has lot to offer for tourists and photographers, but unfortunately I could stay only hour or so. So I decided just to visit the Forum Marinum, located next to the River Aura in city center (I'd seen Turku castle previously).

Forum Marinum is a foundation established in 1998 to "preserve the maritime cultural tradition typical of the Southwestern coastal area of Finland". I'd say Forum Marinum is an excellent sea museum including beautiful sailing ship called Suomen Joutsen ("Finland's Swan"). The finnish government bought the ship for training purposes in 1930, and since then it has been one of the icons of the independent Finland.

18591862Visit to the Forum Marinum museum was an excellent end to my search for the coastal life. See you in Southern Finland in the next summer!



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