Photo credits: David Castor

5 Best Scandinavian castles to see before spring comes

Castles in Sweden, Denmark and Finland are architectural gems!
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Where would you normally go to enjoy medieval castles? Western or Central Europe, right? But have you ever thought of Scandinavia? Sweden, Denmark and Finland has something to show off too.

Learn about the best castles in Scandinavia to make sure you have them on your itinerary next time.

5. Häme Castle

Where: Southern Finland
The medieval Häme Castle or Tavastia Castle in southern Finland was built of red bricks which was a rare material in this region back then. The fortress has a central keep which originally had 5 turrets of which only two survived and surrounding curtain walls, enclosed by a moat.
Häme Castle
It is believed that the castle was constructed in the 13th century in the times of Birger Jarl's Second Swedish Crusade but there is nothing to firmly prove it. In the mid-16th century it started to lose its significance and was later abandoned. The Russians briefly seized it during the Northern War. When Finland became part of the Russian empire, the castle was turned into a prison. It served as such until 1953, when massive restoration work started.
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4. Olavinlinna Castle

Where: Finland
This 15th century fortress on a lake in Finland was built by Swedes as they prepared for an advance of the Russian forces who had taken the city of Novgorod by that time. The fortress was surrounded by numerous rivers, brooks and lakes - so as to make it impossible to seize.
Olavinlinna Castle
Some 200 people lived in it which made it quite an obstacle for Russian troops. But only in the 18th century the fortress was captured twice. For the first time the Swedes got it back but for the second time Russians kept it. In the same century the fortress was attacked by the 36.000 strong Swedish army led by king Gustav III but in vain. The garrison under command of one-handed major of the Russian imperial army refused to surrender.

3. Frederiksborg Castle

Where: Denmark
The largest Renaissance residence in Scandinavia - Frederiksborg Castle - was built in Hillerød, Denmark as a royal residence for King Christian IV of Denmark-Norway in the 17th c. It was constructed on the site of an older castle for purely recreational purposes. The castle was the first Danish castle to be built inland as normally they stood on the coast or close to ports for easier travel.
Frederiksborg Castle
On 16 December 1859, the king visited a chamber on the 3rd floor to check on historic artefacts. It was a cold night, he asked for a fire to be lit in the room but the chimney was under repair and a blaze broke out. The lake was frozen so the only water available came from the pantry and the kitchen. The fire quickly spread destroying most of the building within a few hours…
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2. Kalmar Castle

Where: Sweden
This the very castle where the Kalmar Union was signed between Norway, Sweden and Denmark in the 14th century. The kingdoms agreed to be led by Denmark's monarch preserving broad autonomy at the same time.
Kalmar Castle
The union did not last forever - just for some 120 years - and ended with hostilities. The medieval castle was originally just a tower that was later expanded. A curtain wall, towers and another line of defenses were added later. By the 16th century the medieval fortress demanded urgent attention and had to be rebuilt in the splendid Renaissance style - that's when corner towers appeared.

1. Orebro Castle

Where: Sweden
Orebro Castle is a mediaeval structure which was rebuilt during the reign of the royal House of Vasa. The castle whose looks date back mostly to the 16th century (although a reconstruction occurred in the 1900s too) lies on an island and originally guarded the bridge over river Svartan. The name of Örebro comes from the small stones, called "ör" in Swedish, that a river transports.
Orebro Castle
The second part of the word comes from the bridge ("bro") that was built over this ford. The oldest part of the castle, a defense tower, is believed to have been built by Birger Jarl (in the 13th century) who fought with the Novgorod republic and took part in the Battle of the Neva. Important roads passed by this strategic place because from here one could control the traffic and the trade in the inner parts of Sweden.
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