Hämeenlinna attractions include Birthplace of Jean Sibelius, Häme Castle, Ahvenisto Motor Speedway, Prison Museum, and the Artillery Museum of Finland.
Birthplace of Jean Sibelius (hameenlinna.fi), the birth home of the most famous and most performed Finnish composer, is located at Hallituskatu 11 in Hämeenlinna.
Jean Sibelius was born in the building on 8th of December, 1865, and primarily lived there until his graduation from high school (1885), which was when he moved to Helsinki.
Sibelius was a part of a unique, tightly-knit group of Finnish artists of the period, which included his famous contemporaries:
- Akseli Gallen-Kallela, Eero Järnefelt,
- Eino Leino, Robert Kajanus,
- Juhani Aho, and Eero Erkko.
The birthplace, a museum since the 1960s, is one of the four major Sibelius attractions in Finland:
- Birthplace of Sibelius (Hämeenlinna),
- Sibelius Monument (Helsinki),
- Ainola (Järvenpää), and
- Sibelius Museum (Turku).
Highlights at the museum include furniture from Sibelius’ childhood, documents, photographs and small objects that belonged to the composer…
….and the entire interior has been restored to the attire it had during Sibelius’ childhood here, in the 1860s.
Häme Castle (www.nba.fi/hame_castle), meanwhile, is one of the largest medieval castles in Finland.
Construction work on the castle began after a crusade to the area by the famous Birger Jarl, towards the late 13th century…
…though some historians consider the building’s more accurate construction work’s starting point towards 1310s, on the aftermath of an attack by Novgorod troops.
In any case, the castle remained under construction and was being expanded for a period of 200 years.
The castle was an important military fortress until the late 16th century, and later, it functioned as prison from 1837-1972. Today, the castle is a historical monument.
Häme Castle is easy to visit, as it is located on the shores of Vanajavesi lake, close to the city center of Hämeenlinna.
Among the castle highlights are its medieval wall structures, and a turret from the mid-16th century.
Hämeenlinna attractions also feature Ahvenisto Motor Speedway (ahvenistonmoottorirata.fi), one of Finland’s most famous motor racing circuits.
The track, which has a total length of about 3 km (1.8 miles), has been used for motorracing competitions since 1967.
Many famous motorracing personalities have raced at the track, including:
- Jim Clark, Graham Hill, Jack Brabham, and Niki Lauda.
Best way to visit the track is, of course, attending a motorracing competition there, with the biggests events held here being
- NEZ Racing Championship,
- Historic Grand Race, and
- Super Rallicross.
Prison Museum, one of the top Hämeenlinna attractions, meanwhile, exhibits the history of the prison service in Finland.
The museum is located within the former Hämeenlinna county jail, which was, when completed in 1871, the first prison cell facility in Finland, remaining in that role up to 1993…
…and later converted into a museum, in 1997.
Hämeenlinna region, in fact, has had an exceptionally important role in Finnish prison service, as thanks to the Häme Castle, the place has been a holding place for prisoners since the Middle Ages.
With the museum, you can especially get an overall idea of the history of Finnish prisons, and also of the life inside the Finnish prisons, not only historically but also how things are handled today.
The museum highlights include its historical building, and the chance to see the prison cells, which have been left in their authentic, original conditions.
Prison Museum often features special, themed exhibitions related to the historical ways in which Finnish prisons operated, such as “Primary Education in Prisons“.
Finally, Hämeenlinna attractions include Artillery Museum of Finland (tykistomuseo.fi), which focuses on the history and present day of the Finnish artillery armed forces.
The museum premises, located within Linnankasarmi building in Hämeenlinna, include…
- the exhibitions inside the Linnakasarmi,
- outdoors areas surrounding the main museum building, and
- the Cannon Hall.
In terms of scope, the Artillery Museum exhibition is unique in the country, displaying, for example, all the cannon types used by Finland in World War II.
With the museum, you can get an overview of the history of the Finnish artillery, from the 15th century up to the present day.
The exhibition has been divided into sections, with the first level providing a look into the earliest days of the artillery function within Finnish army…
…with the most modern history presented on the up-most floor of the museum.
Highlights at the Artillery Museum of Finland include its Cannon Hall, from where you’ll find over thirty of the Finland’s most historically valuable pieces of artillery, including a German Nebelwefer rocket launcher.
In addition to cannons, the museum also features infantry weapons, such as legendary “Suomi” submachine guns, Lahti-Saloranta light machine guns, and “Molotov cocktails”.