Olavinlinna, more than 540 years old and located right near downtown Savonlinna, is one of Finland’s most famous historical buildings. It is one of the few medieval buildings still standing in Finland. The castle is owned by the government and the Finnish Heritage Agency is responsible for it.
Construction on the castle was commenced in 1475 at the behest of the Danish-born knight Erik Akselinpoika Tott. The castle was built in area that Sweden and Novgorod fought over. The purpose of the castle was to repel Russian attacks and to ensure that the Swedish Crown kept control over the Savo Region. Olavinlinna was the subject of many battles. Russian troops conquered the castle during the Great Northern War in 1714, but the treaty of 1721 saw it returned to Sweden. In 1743, Sweden lost Olavinlinna to the Russians, whereupon it served as a Russian garrison until 1847. After that, it spent a short period of time as a jail. The castle was empty until the end of the 19th century, at which point of time it was damaged in multiple fires.
Olavinlinna has been restored numerous times since the end of the 19th century. The last extensive restoration was launched in 1961 and was completed in 1975 when the castle turned 500. Nowadays, the castle is one of Finland’s most popular attractions and many different events are held there. Olavinlinna is owned by Senate Properties, which supervises restoration work in the castle.
Over the centuries, the castle has been built by both Swedes and Russians, which is evident in its varied
architecture. The castle is open year round and the entrance fee includes a guided tour.
Olavinlinna also features a permanent exhibition that introduces visitors to the castle’s history through, for example, 3D replicas, tangible objects and miniature models. The exhibition also includes an introductory film of the upper stories of the castle which shows highlights of the everyday life of the castle in different eras.
The permanent exhibition is easily reached even by visitors who use a wheelchair or walker. Accessibility has been a priority in the exhibition. Tangible objects are especially useful for the visually impaired, while the multi-sensor nature of the exhibition makes it exciting to all visitors. The exhibition texts are available in braille at the museum shop. The museum shop has a wide range of the Finnish Heritage Agency’s publications and different souvenirs of high quality.
In 1912, the opera singer Aino Ackté launched the Savonlinna Opera Festival , which has been held annually at Olavinlinna since 1967. In 2020, the Opera Festival was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tel. +358 (0)295 336 942
The Elements of Southern Savo – Fire – Border skirmishes between Sweden and Russia
Last modified: 12 Jan 2023