Not the largest castle, but beautiful nonetheless. With rich history and a colorful history. The second museum we visited for the day.
After the first museum (Prison museum) we just needed to walk some 100m to the next one. As we had bought the “trio” package of ticket, we had paid our admission to the castle (Wikipedia link) museum. What I failed to understand was that although the admission fee was paid, we still had to by the cashier, to get a check mark on the museum list on the receipt, and get a new sticker. No harm done, and we were guided to the cashier, got the checkmark and sticker and off we went to the exhibition’s.
We also got a map of the different floors of the museum which was great.
The castle (The Finnish heritage agency link) has not only been used as a castle for the powerful and rich, it has also been a prison. According to the brochure it has been built during the late 13th century to serve as a military base on the border between Sweden and Novgorod (Russia). It’s location is just beside the river so that it could secure the waterway between Hämeenlinna and Tampere.
The tour flowed easily and naturally forward, and it was easy to follow the map, and to know which room one was in at all times. There was signs with the room number. One thing that could have been improved was to get more decorative and informational items in the various rooms. Now many of them were empty with only the echo as company. Luckily there were not that much visitors, so we were able to talk within our family, without need to feel bad for other visitors. The rooms that have exchibition items, are impressive and very cool, with old spears, swords and body armor.
Hämeenlinna was declared a city in 1639. There has been many prominent Swedish houses, for instance the Tott, the Sture and the Posse. The castle has kept it appearance ever since 1520, as it stands today. The Russians held the castle between 1713-1721, and they got hold of it since the Great Northern War. Swedes were the one taking it back. In the 1770s, the castle was fortified with bastions and a moat by order of Gustav III of Sweden.
It was converted to a prison in 1837, according to the drawings by C.L. Engel. The prison functions was ended in 1972. The main castle was opened to the public in 1979, after a whopping 20 year restoration.
There was a exhibition with the artist Nick Ervinck, which was nice. Mr. Ervinck is a Belgian contemporary artist, and is known for his large colorful 3D sculptures. I had never heard of him, and many of his pieces were a bit too weird for me, but some seemed very cool, and one or two pictures I liked so much, I even suggested my wife we bought it home.
Some ideas of improvement for the museum.
Although the rooms M (Castle history) and R(The riches of Häme) on the map were great, there was so much to read, that it got clogged by the little amount of visitors at this time. It would be better to somehow spread that out around the castle. Maybe to use the empty spaces within the main castle building where rooms now stood empty. As in my post of the Prison Museum, it would be great to create some sort of children’s treasure hunt, as the visitor is in a medieval castle.