Kajaani Castle

Kajaani Castle is situated in Kajaani, the provincial capital of Kainuu. It is built on an island in the middle of Kajaaninjoki River, which flows into Oulujärvi Lake and is in the centre of the present-day city. The castle is the defining historical image of the city of Kajaani.

1604 Sweden begins construction of Kajaani Castle. Its purpose is to protect Northern Ostrobothnia from marauding Russian Karelians and oversee movements on the long waterway. At the same time, Kajaani Castle is a staging post for Sweden's Arctic Ocean policy. The drawings are the work of mason Isaac Rasmusson and the construction is overseen by Isaac Behm, governor of Ostrobothnia. The castle initially comprises a rectangular ring wall surrounding the castle yard, with round cannon towers on the short eastern and western sides. Kajaani Castle is the last medieval-style fortification in the Nordic countries.

1619 Following completion of the first phase of construction of Kajaani Castle the castle remains unfinished and is used as a prison.

1636 The most famous inmate of Kajaani Castle, the Swedish historian Johannes Messenius, who was charged with conspiracy in the Catholic Counter-Reformation, is freed. During his 20 years in prison he writes Scandia Illustrata, a historical work in several volumes.

1650 Count Per Brahe (1602-1680) gains the barony of Kajaani as his fiefdom.

1651 Peter Brahe, who is renowned as a deft administrator and defender of various economic and spiritual reforms, establishes a town close to Kajaani Castle, which he envisages as the centre of his large fief. He also orders improvements to the castle.

1666 The additions to Kajaani Castle decreed by Per Brahe are completed. Two wing fortifications have been added to the eastern cannon tower. A battery has been placed on top of the single- and two-storey vaulted sections surrounding the castle yard.

1716 During the Great Northern War, Russia besieges Kajaani Castle for five weeks. The 4000 besieging troops are led by General Chekin. When the siege ends, the Russians blow up the castle. Captain Johan Henrik Fieandt and his detachment of 50 men defending the castle become prisoners of war in Russia.

1721 Under the Treaty of Nystad (Uusikaupunki), Kajaani Castle is restored to Sweden. A small garrison remains at the castle up to the 1790s. The walls, however, fall into disrepair and the people of Kajaani use the stones as foundations for their houses.

There has always been a bridge over the river taking in Kajaani Castle in the middle. Originally the bridge was low and the spring floods washed it away. When the castle was ruined, a higher wooden bridge was built. In the 1930s this was replaced by a concrete bridge which was widened in the 1970s. The ruins of the castle are underneath the bridge. In recent years there have been proposals to ban motor traffic on the castle bridge. Within the next decade the city will come forward with specific proposals regarding traffic over Kajaanijoki River.

The walls of Kajaani Castle have been repaired at various times; for instance, at the end of the 19th century, and during the 1930s and 1980s. Between 2003 and 2007 the city of Kajaani and the National Board of Antiquities researched and repaired the castle ruins and the surroundings. The objective was to develop the whole river landscape and the castle ruins both as a tourist site and the location for small-scale events. A particular advantage for visitors is the fact that the Kajaani Castle ruins are located in the centre of the city. The castle is thus a popular tourist attraction.

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