The Åland Islands is a small place with a lot of history. We have previously written about Kungsö Battery in Jomala, but that is not the only demolished battery on the islands. Another such place is the Sålis battery. It is located in Hammarland, one of the central municipalities. Built by the Russians, the purpose of these fortifications was to defend the most western part of the Russian empire. You know you’re at the right place when you bump into a guard house as well as the Russian flags. Here you will find the most of the old road leading up to the fortification, some small replicas of the housing unit, the stone rubbles that is left of the fortification as well as a watch tower with a great view out over the landscape.
Here you will find the most of the old road leading up to the fortification, some small replicas of the housing unit, whatever is left of the fortification as well as a watch tower with a great view out over the landscape.
We think that is a good sight for anyone who wants to know more about history. Everybody who enjoys the outdoors might also like strolling in the woods and catching a glimpse of the amazing views. Be prepared to walk though; it’s almost a kilometer before reaching the old walls and the tower. Going there by bike or bringing a pram is not a very good idea, as the path is uneven.
Sålis Battery: a Bit of History
The Åland Islands are today a demilitarized zone and have so been since 1856. The demilitarization has been confirmed in international law several times after the initial agreement. It was already the peace treaty after the Crimean War in 1856 that initiated the demilitarization of the Åland Islands. Actually, Britain and France forced it upon Russia. Believe it or not, the Crimean War came all the way to Åland. Back then, the island was of great strategic importance. This part of the treaty was canceled already in 1914 when Britain and France let their ally Russia build new fortifications on the islands.
The construction of the Sålis Battery started in 1916 and it was ready in 1918. It was a part of a larger fortification project resulting in a defensive line stretching from the Åland Islands to what is today Saaremaa in Estonia. The Russian troops left the Åland Islands in 1918 after Finnish independence. All batteries were demolished in 1919. The demolition was the work of a Swedish military force in 1919. They also destroyed parts of the road. Hence, no cycling or babies. The road is 800 meters in total, the last 200 meters were demolished. These days there are only 600 meters to walk.
Sålis Battery was manned by over 100 men and it was mounted with three 152 mm Canet guns. The guns had a range of 13,5 kilometers and a 75-meter long wall protected them.
Do you want to know more about the special status of the Åland Islands? The Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs has a good summary about it here >>
Sålis Battery: Getting There?
You find the Sålis battery a bit to the northeast of Sålis in Hammarland. Look for an entrance with Russian flags at the entrance and a parking lot with space for two cars. We would recommend going there either by car or bike from Mariehamn. Finding public transport is probably trickier.
Hey, Did You Know?
Are you planning to go on holiday to the Åland? Look no further – in our Guide to the Åland Islands you will find everything you need for your vacation!