While strolling through the streets of Hämeenlinna, you might come across the one or other interesting buildings:
The former Skogster warehouse from 1906 shows some nice art nouveau features. Today, it is used as a rock club.
If you use the path along the lakeshore to get from the rain station to the own centre, you'll come along some ruins. Unfortunaley, I have no idea where they come from....
In the area north of the market square, you will see some old-style wooden buildings. At the northern end of Linnankatu, you can combine he old buildings wih a wonderful view on the lake and the castle.
Though the market square is modern in layout, there is still a traditional feeling through the market taking place on it. He most important buildings are the church (see separate tip) and the town hall from 1885.
A monument dedicaed to the newly-gained freedom of the country was placed in the 1920s. What really surprised me was the use of the swastika which is rather associated with Nazi Germany. In Finland, it has been used as a national emblem and in some areas (e.g. air force) is still used as such.
The freedom monument is located next to the church, at its southern side.
Hämeenlinna's Baroque Church was finished in 1798 and was modelled after the Pantheon in Rome. In the summertime, the church is open every day during daytime. In winter, it is only open daily for a short time around noon, for mass, special ocassions and upon request.
One of the best-known castles in Finland, Häme Castle has given its name to the city. The 13th century castle was altered and expanded several times. Between 1837 and 1980 it was used as a prison. Afterwards, it was refurbished and became a museum in 1991. Most rooms, however, are left with bare stones, partly with missing floors or walls.
The castle itself can be visited as a self-guided tour. Booklets with details about all the structures and rooms are available at the reception desk – just don't forget to return them. They are available in several languages, including Finnish, Swedish, English, German and Russian. Depending on the season, there are also free guided tours but language choice and times are limited. The entry fee is 8,00 EUR for adults (2011), check the homepage for actual prices and details on discounts for children etc. There are also combination tickets for those interested in visiting the artillery museum.
Beside the main castle exhibition, there are also exhibitions in the rooms which are located in the former prison buildings. These are about the castle restoration, show former treasures or show archeological excavations of the surrounding area. There are also good temporary exhibitions. The one I went to was about the phenomenon of „Finlandization“, Finland's balance between the western and eastern world during the cold war. The temporary exhibitions are usually included in the entry fee, please check the castle's homepage for further details on that.
This is the nice structure of the local railway station building which you might be visiting anyway if you use the train but if not, still it is rather interesting one, the Hämeenlinna - Helsinki was the first rail line open between Finnish cities.
The Hämeenlinnan kirkko or main church is located in the city central square. It is about 200 years old and the architecture structure of it is rather simple and typical classic Finnish church of that time period.
There's no real evidence of when Hämeen linna castle was built. Most probably it was built in the at the end of the 13th century after Birger Jarl's Crusade to Häme. During the Middle Ages the castle was turned into a home of the master of the castle. In the 18th century the castle was built higher, three storey building and was surrounded by a wall. Red brick is the main building material. Between 1837 and 1972 the castle was a prison and while they slowly gave up the prison use the government began examination and restoring work in the castle in 1953. They were finished in 1988.
Permanent exhibitions in the castle:
Terra Tavestorum - Exhibiotion about the pre-history of Häme
History of brick
Money treasure of Pielavesi's Vaaraslahti
Medieval church art
Exhibition of the restoring of the castle
Exhibition of linen from Skokloster Castle in Sweden. Opened in March 2006.
15.8. - 30.4. Mo-Su 10 - 16
Guided tours in Finnish on even hours, other languages by agreement
2.5. - 14.8. Mo-Su 10 - 18
Guided tours in Finnish, Swedish, english and German on even hours, in other languages by agreement
5 € agrown ups
Family ticket (2+2) 12 €
Every castle needs a moat and Hämeen linna castle wasn't an exception. When we look at the pitiful ditch which separates the castle from the mainland it is hard to believe that the castle was able to protect its citizens against the enemy. A Russian story tells that in 1311 troops from Novgorod came to destroy Häme and indeed they destroyed completely the surroundings of the castle and the wooden castle, but though they besieged the main castle for three days they were not able to destroy it.
Interior is very much white giving it a convent like appearance. I love the serenity and symmetry of the vaults there. In the photo of the window you can again see how thick the walls are. When I walk there I like to imagine how life back then was. I "see" women in their long skirts and noble men living there. I can almost hear and smell them! But then I'm known to have vivid imagination...
Unfortunately there are no furniture in the castle, but still it is worth a deeper look and has lots of interesting things to see. If you have a closer look at the bench photo you can see how thick the walls were. They were not only to protect people in the castle from attacks but also to keep it warm/cool depending the weather. The only heating was done by the burning wood in the open fireplaces, and it couldn't have kept the castle warm for a long time.
Go for a trip on the Harkatie (The Ox Road of Hame) it is a road trip starting from Hameenlinna and ending in Turku. This road is full on interesting historical sites, villages and towns and beautiful nature.
Near castle Häme you find one of these cute little museums that are very typical for Finland, in this case it is a Postcard-museum.
If you have the time, walk through the little rooms, watch different kind of postcards and take a coffee afterwards...
Hämeelinna's most important sight is the castle that dates back to the year 1260. It is one of the best conserved mediaeval brick-buildings in Finland. One reason for its good condition is the fact that it was never attacked.
From 1837 to 1980 it served as a prison. After renovation works it was opened to public in 1991.
Hämeenlinna castle is one of the largest and most famous castle in Finland build during the middle ages. Today it is part of the city museum and open for visitors all year around.
Like all Finnish cities also in Hämeenlinna the town market square is in the city centre and main attraction for tourist, buy something to eat or drink and some souvenirs shopping.