Chronicles of Olavinlinna dating back to 1475
The medieval fortress of Olavinlinna was built on an island in the center of Savonlinna.
The name of the Olavinlinna fortress in Finnish means "Olaf fortress", it received its name in honor of St. Olav, the patron saint of the city.
The history of the fortress begins in 1475, when the governor of the Eastern province of the Swedish kingdom, Eric Axelson Tott, commanded that the Eastern borders be strengthened from the Moscow princedom that had become stronger at that time.
The strategic position of the settlement near the borders of the Kingdom of Sweden, as well as the important location at the intersection of shipping lanes in the center of Saimaa, determined the choice of location for the construction of a defensive fortress. Olavinlinna was built in a record time for those times - 7 years.
It should be remembered that the construction was carried out only in the warm season, because in the harsh northern winter, construction was stopped due to the inability to interfere with the solution. Eric Axelson Tott, thanks to his personal connections, attracted the best masons from Tallinn to the construction of Olavinlinna.
Olavinlinna in the history of Russia and Sweden
The construction of the new Olavinlinna fortress increased the defense capability of the Swedish state from the east.
The fortress received baptism of fire during the war between the Moscow principality and Sweden between 1495-1497. The fortress retained its defense and remained Swedish. After that, the Olavinlinna fortress was considered impregnable for a long time.
In 1700, the Great Northern War between Russia and Sweden begins. In 1714, a detachment led by Russian colonel Ivan Shuvalov entered Savonlinna. As a result of the siege of the fortress, which lasted about a month, Olavinlinna passes to the Russians. As a result of military operations of that time, the walls of the fortress and living quarters were damaged. Olavinlinna needed to be restored. The Russian military began to urgently reconstruct the interior and walls to accommodate the Russian garrison.
Sweden lost the Great Northern War. However, according to the results of the Nishtad Peace Treaty, signed in 1721, the Olavinlinna fortress returned to Sweden. Olavinlinna regains the status of a border fortress.
The Nishtad Peace Treaty nevertheless did not bring the long-awaited stability to the Savo region. In 1743, Sweden lost the city of Savonlinna along with the Olavinlinna fortress. The border fortress of Olavinlinna became Russian.
The numerous Russian garrison stationed in Olavinlinna noticeably revived economic life in the vicinity of Savonlinna. In the mid-1740s, the Russians began work on rebuilding the fortress, which aimed to renew the fortress and adapt it to the needs of the Russian troops.
Times of Suvorov
In 1791, Alexander Suvorov was appointed Empress Catherine II as the head of the work to strengthen the defensive structures of strategic importance for the Russian Empire: the fortresses of Vyborg, Hamina, Taavetti, Lappeenranta and Olavinlinna.
Olavinlinna fortress was the northernmost of this list.
Since April 1791, the great Russian commander A.V. was engaged in the fortifications of Olavinlinna Suvorov. On his orders, a canal was dug in the fortress to safely provide the garrison with fresh water.
The former, earthen bastions were replaced by new ones - stone ones. This increased the defenses of the fortress. According to the Suvorov plan, the living quarters of the fortress were also actively updated.
In 1808-1809, during the Russo-Swedish War, Olavinlinna served as a stronghold, and after the end of hostilities lost its strategic importance. The whole territory of Finland became part of Russia until 1917.
The fortress has survived to our time almost in its original form.
Currently, the fortress is used for:
- International Opera Festival
- The fortress is rented for closed
events (except the days of
- Night of professional boxing