The Svartholm Fortress is a fortification located in
Loviisa, in the southern part of Finland.
After the 1741 – 1743 Russo-Swedish war has ended, and the Peace treaty of Turku
was signed, Sweden had to move its borders to the west.
Thus the country was left without any fortresses that would protect its new
With that in mind, the Swedes started again feverishly to fortify the border
area. The area of Degerby (later renamed Loviisa) was chosen initially in 1745 as a site to build a
The first few huts were constructed to Svartholm in the summer of 1746. The
fortification plan of Svartholm followed the same guidelines, which were agreed for the Sveaborg
fortification and the resemblance with these two is really striking.
The construction however dragged on and the first defensive structures were
started in 1752 and continued until 1766, when most of the bastions were completed.
After the year 1766, the construction efforts slowed down, but were hurried
again after the relationship towards imperial Russia declined in 1772. This cooling of
Russo-Swedish relationships didn't last long and in 1774 it was ordered to cease all construction
efforts in Svartholm.
When finally the imperial Russia was the attacking side in 1808, the Swedish
fortifications in Finland were in a disgraceful state, Svartholm wasn't an exception to that.
Additionally several misfortunes hit to the garrison and to the commanding officer Major Carl
First of all, the purpose of the Svartholm Sea Fortification was to stop the
attack coming from the sea not from the land. Secondly, an attack during the winter was thought to
be extremely unlikely.
However, now both of those things had happened and during the second day of the
Russian attack, the Russian troops were already looking at the Svartholm fortification, on the
other side of the frozen bay.
Due to the several misunderstandings and a competent Russian commander, the
Svartholm garrison surrendered without a putting a fight, after being surrounded by the Russians
less than a month and finding out, that their cannons were unable to fire effectively towards the
mainland, where the Russian cannons were located.
After these events, the strategic meaning of Svartholm declined, as it was
located now inside of Russia, far away from the Swedish border.
The final nail to the coffin came, when the combined British-French fleet sailed
in the Gulf of Finland during the Crimean war, destroying several coastal fortifications and
finally Svartholm too.
In the afternoon of 7th of July 1855, a huge explosion trembled the area and the
Svartholm Fortress during the Crimean war.
After the 1855 explosion, Svartholm Fortress fell into disgrace, but in 1960 a
new restoration project commenced.
Svartholm Fortress Visitor info
Svartholm Fortress is located near the town of Loviisa in souther Finland. There
is a permanent exhibition at the Svartholm fortress which presents its history.
There is also a bar near the castle where you can enjoy a drink.
Daily cruises are available from the city of Loviisa. See the official website for more information about Svartholm Fortress Tours and
other attractions near.
Svartholm Fortress Map&Location
Svartholma Fortress is located in Loviisa bay about 10 km
from the town centre.
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