The Åland Islands have seen a lot of action during history. Located next to the water on the main island of Åland is the Fortress of Bomarsund. Nowadays the site consists of only the ruins of a fortress; with only parts of the walls still standing.
The construction of the fortress was started in 1830 by the Russians. It was supposed to be the most western defense for the Russian Empire (at this time Finland was a part of Russia), but the fortress was never finished before it was destroyed by French and Brittish forces during the Crimean war in 1854. This war is also the reason to why Åland still is a demilitarized zone. In other words, according to international law, no armed forces are permitted to the islands.
A bit to the north of the Fortress of Bomarsund one will find the Tower of Notviken. On a hill overlooking the water, it was supposed to protect the fortress from the north. Also, this tower is nowadays only a ruin, but it offers an amazing view over the strait.
Together with the Castle of Kastelholm, the Fortress of Bomarsund are the two places on the Åland Islands that you should visit in order to get a grip on the history of the islands. Seeing these sites, the visitor will gain insight into the complex history of Scandinavia, as well as Russia. In the shadow of more famous international events, these places stand witness to the heydays of the Swedish Kingdom to the golden years of the Russian Empire. From the Swedish rule at a time when Kastelholm was the important fortification on Åland to the rise and fall of Russian rule at Bomarsund.
Due to its fabulous location, a trip to the fortress can be combined with other activities. During a visit to Bomarsund, one could grab the chance to enjoy a picnic outdoors or go for a swim in the chilly Baltic Sea. There is an old cemetery nearby, which is a lovely place for a stroll during a sunny day. Don’t forget the museum!
How to get there
As with most of Åland, the easiest way to get to the Fortress of Bomarsund is by driving or cycling. Bomarsund is located approximately 32 kilometers from Mariehamn and the Tower of Notviken is a further kilometer away.
To read some more about the Fortress of Bomarsund we have used the sites below.