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History of the fortress of Hamina

Sweden established the town of Hamina in the place of Vehkalahti, which had been destroyed in the Great Northern War in 1721, and the fortification of the town commenced. The construction of the fortress with six bastions was carried out under the supervision of the Swedish General Axel von Löwen. The fortress of Hamina is a rare circular fortress. It represents the idea of an ideal town devised in Mediterranean countries during Renaissance, and Palmanova in Northern Italy can be regarded as the model of the fortress of Hamina. The protruding corners of the bulwarks of the star-shaped citadel constitute six bastions which were named after fortified towns in Finland at that time: the Helsinki, Hamina, Savonlinna, Lappeenranta, Hämeenlinna and Turku bastions.

(Kesäpuisto park in Lappeenranta bastion was built in 1853.)

Hamina was made part of Russia as a result of the Treaty of Åbo signed after the Hats’ War between Sweden and Russia in 1743. At that time, the fortification work was not yet close to completion. However, the Russian General Alexander Suvorov expedited the construction work in 1791 and 1792. After General Suvorov, the fortification of South-Eastern Finland was headed by the Dutch-born Engineering General Jan Peter van Suchtelen. In the early 1800s, he started to apply a new fortification system known as the caponier fortress. In keeping with his plans, the construction of a large Central Bastion was launched on the northern side of the town close to the current lake Kirkkojärvi in 1803. Caponier fortifications were also completed on both sides of the Central Bastion of the fortress. These were referred to as Puolikuu 1 and 2 (Half Moon 1 and 2).

The fortress of Hamina lost its military importance when Finland was a Grand Duchy of Russia, and the demolition of parts of the fortress began. Some of the fortification structures had been demolished as soon as after the signing of the Treaty of Hamina in 1809, and more fortifications were pulled down towards the end of that century. These included the Helsinki Bastion which used to be located at the site of the current Market Place.

(Helsinki bastion was demolished in 1889. Today Hamina Market Place is located at the site. The flag tower of the fotress commander from 1790 is a reminder of the bastion.)

The Town of Hamina launched the repair work of the fortress in 1957, and the restoration of the Central Bastion began in 1978. More than half a million bricks have been used to rebuild the casemate vaults, and the renovation work took 20 years.

(The fortress of Hamina)