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Suomenlinna "Castle of Finland"

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    site_0583_0004-260-260-20100908144052.jpgSuomenlinna is an old maritime fortress in the coast of Finland, safeguarding the capital Helsinki. The initial construction of the fortress was started in 1750s when Finland was a part of Sweden and the thread of Russian Empire was growing. The fortress was built in all together seven islands but actually never finished during the Swedish era.  The Swedish named the fortress at that time Sveaborg and the name remains until this day because of bilingualism in Finland (Mokkala, 2014; Suomenlinna, n.y.). In 1808 Sveaborg was appointed to the Russians when the rest of Finland was occupied by the Empire. The name again was changed this time into Viapori and the fortress served as a military base for the Russian troupes. Under the rule of Russia the fortress suffered from bombings and was left to deteriorate. In 1918 after Finland had gained independence the fortress was named as Suomenlinna, symbolising the independence of Finland, with the name remaining up to this date (Suomenlinna, n.y.).

    The importance of this world heritage site for the world lies in the history. The fortress became a UNESCO world heritage site in 1991 and the castle today is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Finland. For Finnish people Suomenlinna is a symbol of independence and for the world it is a landmark with authentic history of war. According to Heldt Cassel and Pashkevich (2014) and UNESCO (1992-2014) the heritage sites should be kept in the original shape and style which means the places become also important architectural sites. The original structures used in the old days are still found in the area of Suomenlinna for example an orthodox church build in the Russian era is still used today. According to UNESCO (1992-2014) Suomenlinna was selected to be a World Heritage Site because of its representation of military architecture in Europe in the 18th century. Like Held Cassel and Pashkevich (2014) point out the heritage sites are full of memories and represent the past. The uniqueness of Suomenlinna is that it has been ruled by three different countries: Sweden, Russia and Finland (Suomenlinna, n.y.).


    Like mentioned earlier Suomenlinna still consists of the original structures which is costly to keep in shape. The restoration of Suomenlinna is funded by the Finnish government  and The Governing Body of Suomenlinna. The funds come from things such as rents on the islands and banqueting and  conference bookings. However this is a problem since they are highly dependent on the local residents and tourists to bring the money (The Governing Body of Suomenlinna, n.y.; Heldt Cassel and Pashkevich, 2011). In the case of Suomenlinna the managerial challenge is the relationship of tourism and heritage protection. Like mentioned by Aas, Ladkin and Fletcher (2005) the management of cultural heritage sites often faces challenges and conflicts. Suomenlinna has become one of major tourist attractions in Finland and is being filled with tourist entrepreneurs like cafes etc. This means that some of the money leaks out and doesn't go to the heritage preservation or to the Governing Body of Suomenlinna. For example when travelling to the destination one needs to take a ferry which is owned by Helsinki city and there is no entrance fee to the destination. The funding would need to be done in a more efficient way to ensure long lasting benefits (The Governing body of Suomenlinna, n.y.).



    AAS, C., LADKIN, A. and FLETCHER, J. (2005) Stakeholder collaboration and heritage management. Annals of Tourism Research, Vol. 32, No. 1, pp. 28–48.

    THE GOVERNING BODY OF SUOMENLINNA (n.y.) Budget. [Online] Available in: [Accessed in 11.11.2014]

    HELDT CASSEL, S. and PASHKEVICH, A. (2011) Heritage Tourism and Inherited Institutional Structures: The Case of Falun Great Copper Mountain. Scandinavian Journal of Hospitality and Tourism. Vol. 11, No. 1., pp. 57-75.

    MOKKALA, M. (2014) Own experience and knowledge of cultural heritage site. [Reviewed 11.11.2014] student/Finnish citizen,

    SUOMENLINNA (n.y.) Fortress and history. [Online] Available in: [Accessed in 11.11.2014]

    UNESCO (1992-2014) Fortress of Suomenlinna. [Online]. Available in: [Accessed 11.11.2014]



    Written by Marianne Mokkala

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    Comments (5)

    Viewing 5 of 5 comments: view all
    Hi Marianne,
    It is well written, informative and brief description of Suomenlinna. I like it! I have one question regarding the leakages, Are these businesses cannot be owned by the surrounding communities? To minimize the leakage. Your presentation was one of the best!
    Posted 01:34, 17 Nov 2014
    Hello Dinberu,

    the companies that operate on the islands are privately owned so unfortunately the money goes somewhere else. Of course some of them are people living on the island and they of course have to pay tax etc but no direct money comes to the preservation itself.

    And thanks for your comments ;)
    Posted 12:06, 17 Nov 2014
    I really liked the story of Suomenlinna. I wanted to say that you gave me envy to visit it, but writing, I actually realized that I have been there last year without even knowing it was a World Heritage site. So thank you to letting me know this! ;)
    So, from my memories, I don't remember have seen any tourist the island. So, is the site well promoted then? If they really need funding, they would probably do more. Also, I noticed that people are living on the site, doesn't it make any problem/conflicts ?
    Posted 23:27, 17 Nov 2014
    Hello Laëtitia,

    as seen from your pictures you were in Suomenlinna when the weather was bad and maybe late autumn? This is the time that there are not so many tourists if not at all. Also some of the places like cafes are closed for winter season, only open for private bookings. However when real winter comes with snow then more tourists will also go on bright winter days to enjoy the scenery. :) The site is promoted quite well and taken into account in the marketing of whole Finland since it is our only "castle" really. :D

    From what I have heard the people living in the islands are quite happy, especially when it is more quiet. Because like said it is one of the most visited tourist attractions during summer and also very popular place for weddings and other celebrations. :)
    Posted 23:37, 17 Nov 2014
    Nice discussion guys! I really liked the way you approached the problem with the managerial issues Marianne! Well done! Best, Albina
    Posted 22:31, 21 Nov 2014
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