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Svartholm Fortress

The Svartholm Fortress is a fortification located in Loviisa, in the southern part of Finland.

Svartholm Fortress History

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 borders.

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 border fortification.

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 Magnus Gripenberg.

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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Svartholm Fortress Photos

Svartholm Fortress - Photo © Timo Noko

Loviisa fortress courtyard - Photo ©
Svartholma fortress photos source:
Svartholma fortress winter

Svartholma fortress

Svartholma fortress

Svartholma fortress

Svartholma fortress
Svartholma fortress courtyard

Svartholma fortress walls