A holiday filled with history in the city of Hämeenlinna
Hämeenlinna is the bustling city centre of the Tavastia province, best known as the city whose name comes from the historic castle. Visiting Hämeenlinna, you will see elements of Finnish history dating from the Iron Age to the Empire style of the 1800s, as well as more contemporary features, as time has not overtaken this attractive destination. Along with discovering the culture of the city, you will see abundant nature in the preserved areas of Aulanko and Ahvenisto.
The city’s main attraction is Häme Castle, whose construction began in the 11th century and was even expanded in the 1800s to be used as a prison. The main castle and the surrounding ramparts and walls have been completely renovated; so head inside the castle walls on your own, or take a guided tour. Take a stroll through the fortress, from room to room, and check out the many layers of Häme Castle's history and changing displays. The castle has steep staircases and low doorways, so moving around can be difficult for people with limited mobility and those with buggies; but, at the same time, they tell a fascinating story of the fortress, whose main purpose was for defence.
While visiting the castle, you will also see the Prison Museum and the Artillery, Engineering and Signals Museum of Finland, operating in authentic historical buildings and easier to get around than the fortress. The history of Finland’s prison service and military are presented in a lively and interesting manner, so reserve some time for these museums while on holiday in Hämeenlinna. Also, you could even spend time picnicking in Castle Park , which was built in the narrow pass between Häme Castle and the Vanajavesi.
The diverse history of Hämeenlinna also includes the honour of being the birthplace of Finland’s arguably best-known composer. Jean Sibelius's birthplace is located in the centre of Hämeenlinna; so make sure to visit the decorated rooms, and to check out the composer's distinctive upper-class life of the 1800s. Additonally, you could take a break from the city and visit Verkatehdas (Clothes Factory), a cultural centre established in an old factory building.
The Hämeenlinna region also has many beautiful churches, which represent various styles and eras. Tuulos and Vanaja Churches are Finland’s smallest medieval churches, while Hauho Church has three naves (originally a Catholic tourist attraction). Admire the different styles in the Gustavian classicism constructions of Hämeenlinna Church.
While travelling in Hämeenlinna, there are also excellent opportunities for outdoor activities and sports. For example, go to the Ahvenisto nature reserve, where you can find lots of primeval forest and ridge areas. The Aulanko nature reserve, in addition to being a lovely natural landscape, is also an English-style park, and there is also a tower café on Aulanko. Self-named "Finland Tiilaakso", Hämeenlinna is a great place to play golf and you can hone your swing at the Linna Golf, Golf Aulanko Hugo, and Tawast Golf courts.
Hämeenlinna enjoys excellent transport connections and is easily accessible by car, bus or train from anywhere in Finland. Go exploring on the Vanajavesi beaches and, at the same time, take an outdoor trip to the ancient woodland and fortress walls.