1. The ruins of Bomarsund Fortress
The days of glory of Bomarsund Fortress go back a long way in history, as the region flourished during the Russian rule. When Sweden ceded Finland and Åland to Russia after the war, Åland was located in the westernmost part of the empire. For this reason, Russia felt it was important to build a spectacular and effective fortress in the region.
Construction work on the Bomarsund Fortress began in 1830, and the main fortress, tower, warehouse, hospital, and residential areas for more than 2,000 soldiers, workers, and prisoners were erected in the area. In the great attack of the Ooland War of 1854, the fortress of Bomarsund was badly damaged and never had time to be completed.
All that remains are the ruins of the fortress, and today the Bomarsund fortress area is a popular outdoor destination. It also covers a 4.2-kilometer hiking trail with stunning vantage points and varied terrain.
2. Nåtön flower bed and rocks
Nåtö Nature Reserve, located seven kilometers south of Mariehamn, is at its best at the turn of May-June, when the area literally blossoms. Nåtö leaf meadow is the richest in the Åland region in terms of species selection, which is why it is also protected.
The lush flower meadows are filled in early summer with palm plants, or orchids, which grow up to 25 different species in the area. The tiny little colorful orchids make the landscape stunning. In addition to flowers, nåtö also grows walnut bushes and coastal meadows.
A 2.5–3-kilometer-long nature trail runs through the Nåtö Nature Reserve, and around it you can see the best Kukkakedos and the most beautiful cliff landscapes. There are also fireplaces in the area, so a lunch trip on the cliffs is successful in Nåtö. Mariehamn can be reached by car, but the distance is easy to fold by bicycle.
3. Kastelholm Castle
One of Åland’s most famous attractions includes the historic Kastelholm Castle, which is about 25 minutes ’drive from Mariehamn. The castle, built by the Swedes in the 14th century, flourished in the 16th century when the King of Sweden Kustaa Vaasa visited the castle and later countyed it for his son.
When Kastelholm Castle was annexed to the counties of Turku and Pori in 1643, the castle began a cycle of decay, which was not facilitated by the fire of 1745 either. Renovation work on the castle began in the late 19th century and the most recent renovation contract was completed in 2001.
Now you can explore Kastelholm Castle on guided tours during the summer, in addition to which the castle also hosts an annual traditional Christmas porridge event. There is also the Vita Björn Prison Museum and the Jan Karlsgården Open Air Museum in the Kastelholm Castle area.
4. Eckerö Post and Customs House
The Eckerö Post and Customs House in Western Åland was built in 1828, and today the impressive building houses a museum with changing exhibitions and a museum shop. It is an architect Carl Ludvig Engelin designed and Finland’s best-preserved empire buildings.
The Post and Customs House was completed during the Russian rule and was deliberately built to be very grandiose: it was the first official building seen by those arriving from the sea, so it had to be awesome and impressive. It was successful because the empire building convinces the visitor even today.
During the visit, you can also visit the café opened in the area, which sells not only traditional café products but also lemons from the Ålandic Amalias Lemon Factory and chocolates from the Mercedes chocolate factory.
5. Pommernin museolaiva
The museum ship Pommern, which stands handsome in the western port of Mariehamn, is a must-see destination in Åland. Built in Scotland in 1903, the ship was turned into a museum ship in the 1950s and has since become one of Åland’s most popular attractions.
The more than a hundred-year-old ship is an impressive revelation with its tall masts and handsome sails. Visitors can get to know the ship’s activities both below and above the deck, as the three different decks provide an interesting overview of life on board as the ship sails the world’s seas in different weather conditions.
Pommern is an interesting place to visit for all ages, and with the help of an audio guide, each visitor can get acquainted with things that interest them. The museum ship is open all year round, and the ticket price also includes access to the Åland Maritime Museum.
6. Jan Karlsgården Open Air Museum
Located next to Kastelholm Castle, Jan Karlsgården’s open-air museum takes visitors on a time trip to a 19th-century Åland country village. In the courtyard, you can visit a total of about 20 buildings that have been transferred to the open-air museum around Åland.
In the museum you can see how and under what conditions the locals lived 200 years ago. The free open-air museum is especially popular with families with children.
In the area of the Jan Karlsgården Open-Air Museum, you can also see sheep typical of Åland. In the area of the open-air museum, the Midsummer salon will be raised on Midsummer and the largest Christmas market in Åland will be held on the first weekend of December.
7. Stallhagen Brewery
The Stallhagen Brewery in Grelsby, about 18 km from Mariehamn, is an interesting place to visit, as it offers guided tours of the oldest brewery in Åland. At the same time, visitors are also introduced to brewing skills.
Founded in 2004, the brewery now produces 2.5 million liters of beer a year, and the number of varieties varies between 12 and 20 each year.
The brewery organizes guided tours throughout the year. Visits also include beer tasting at the brewery’s Pub Stallhagen. There is also a Stallhagen store next to the pub.
8. Mariehamn Maritime Quarter
The atmospheric Naval Quarters in Mariehamn’s eastern harbor bring a piece of the city’s maritime history right next to the capital’s city center.
In the area you can explore historical industries such as iron forging, boat sculpting and other handicrafts, as well as visit museums to learn about shipbuilding and boat engines. In addition, Merikortteli’s services cover both handicraft shops and restaurants, and for those looking for local gifts, the area is like a treasure trove.
The sea blocks are a sight in themselves, as red wooden houses and boathouses bring a touch of history to the harbor area. There is also a naval chapel in the same area.
9. Kobba Klintari rock credit
The Åland, made up of thousands of islands, is full of beautiful cliffs that are like created to enjoy the maritime atmosphere and scenery. However, one of them is above the others, as the Kobba Klintar credit in southwestern Åland, ten minutes from Mariehamn, has become very popular.
The reason for this is the landscape and the ease: close to Mariehamn is a destination with access to the open sea. Kobba Klintar is a former pilot station, the history of which is still reminiscent of an old pilot building and a new beacon.
Visits can be made on your own boat or on guided boat trips departing from Mariehamn’s West Harbor. In summer, there is a café on the cliff.
10. Sälskär lighthouse
Sälskär Lighthouse, located in the outer archipelago of Åland, has been called the most beautiful lighthouse in the entire Baltic Sea. Built in 1868, the lighthouse is quite eye-catching thanks to its white purpose, and it is the oldest lighthouse in all of Åland.
As the name suggests, the lighthouse is located on the island of Sälskär in northern Åland. The lighthouse has been operated by a lighthouse keeper until 1949, when the lighthouse was automated, and the log buildings used by the lighthouse keeper families were demolished from the island.
Boat trips to Sälskär are organized once a week during the summer, and the trip lasts about five hours. A lighthouse about 30 meters high can be visited.
>> Read more tips for Åland!
Text: Inka Khanji
Photos: Inka Khanji and Visit Åland / Tiina Tahvanainen, Erik Kuhlefelt, Heidi Ikonen and Rebecka Eriksson
Source: Rantapallo.fi – Suomen suosituin matkailumedia by www.rantapallo.fi.
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