The anniversary year of Olavinlinna will last throughout the entire next year. Photo: Topi Leikas, The National Museum of Finland.

Domestic
Tools
Typography

Olavinlinna, the historic castle in Savonlinna, will celebrate its 550th anniversary in 2025 with a series of events and activities throughout the year. The National Museum of Finland, which oversees Olavinlinna, has announced plans for an extensive program and invites everyone to participate in the celebrations.

The National Museum of Finland is spearheading the anniversary preparations and encourages local residents, associations, event organizers, schools, businesses, tourism operators, and creatives to join in the festivities.

“Olavinlinna is at the heart of Finnish cultural heritage. We want to involve everyone in making this anniversary special,” said Hanna Forssell, Head of Public Relations at the National Museum of Finland.

The anniversary program will expand throughout the year, with opportunities for anyone to become an official event organizer by applying through Olavinlinna’s website. Events will not be confined to the castle alone but will also take place across various locations in the city, including schools.

Event organizers will have access to the official Olavinlinna 550 anniversary logo to promote their activities.

Olavinlinna was founded in 1475 by Erik Axelsson Tott, a Danish-born knight and commander of Vyborg, as a military fortress to fend off Russian attacks from the east and to secure control of the Savonia region for Sweden. The fortress's military significance diminished in the 19th century.

Since the late 1800s, Olavinlinna has been a nationally significant tourist destination. Tourism began in earnest in 1865 when a guard was hired to ensure visitors’ safety and enjoyment. Early visitors were ferried to the castle by boat, adding to its mystique and allure. Within the first few years, over 1,200 visitors experienced the castle, describing it as wild, strange, and romantic.

Around the same time, the first restoration efforts were made, transforming the second floor of the Thick Bastion into a ballroom. The benches in the hall still bear the carvings of couples who attended dances there.

In the summer of 1912, opera singer Aino Ackté initiated the renowned Savonlinna Opera Festival at Olavinlinna. Under her leadership, the festival was held five times, with Ackté performing in each. Since 1967, the festival has been an annual event, with exceptions during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021.

Today, Olavinlinna remains one of Finland’s most popular attractions, drawing approximately 130,000 visitors annually. About 80% of these visitors are domestic tourists, while international tourists, particularly from German-speaking regions, have been increasing post-pandemic. In 2022, Olavinlinna was voted Finland’s most fascinating castle by Museum Card users, receiving 40% of the votes.

The National Museum of Finland is responsible for the castle’s operations and is looking forward to a memorable year of celebration in 2025.

HT

Partners