An easy one-hour drive from Helsinki is the oldest inland town in Finland…Hameenlinna. In 1260, the Swedes built Hame Castle as a protective fortress against Russia. The most distinctive feature of the castle are the two red-bricked towers that rise above a beautiful lake. Inside the fortress walls are dining halls, bed chambers and military watch stations. Originally, the structure was located on an island, but the waters receded leaving the castle vulnerable to attack. So, it was back to the drawing board for the construction of more protective walls.

Despite the protection, Russia conquered Finland in 1809. The castle was converted into a jail and remained such until the 1980’s when the last prisoners were released. The structure was renovated and opened to the public in 1991.

While you’re in the area: Close to Hame Castle is an artillery museum, Tykistomuseo. There are several buildings displaying WWII military vehicles and weapons. The information about Finland’s participation in the war is well presented and well worth the 6 Euro price of admission.