The Fortress of Taavetti

Taavetin linnoitus

Address and map link: Linnalantie 27, Taavetti

In 1741 Sweden started the Russo–Swedish War, the Hats´ Russian War, in order to regain the territories lost before. The effort was poorly prepared and led to defeat. After the war the River Kymijoki formed the new southeastern border of Sweden. Russia took the most important marine fortifications of the area, Hamina, Viipuri, Tallinna and Narva and the land fortifications in Lappeenranta, Käkisalmi and Savonlinna. After the victorious war Russia reinforced its northwestern border by completing the fortification installations in Hamina and Lappeenranta. Taavetti became the most significant of the new fortifications. It was built in a strategically important crossroads at Marttilankylä. The building plan was accepted by Catherine II of Russia on the memorial day of St David of Silunsky, where the Finnish name "Taavetti" comes from.

During the first phase (1773-81) a French type of bastion fortress (800m x 650m) was built, and the second phase of building was started in 1791. This was after the Gustav III´s War when Russia decided to strengthen the defense at its northwestern frontier. General Alexander Suvorov, who had gained fame on the European battlefields, was sent to Finland. He commanded the fortification battalions who constructed a defense system which was extended in depth in order to give a better shelter to St Petersburg. The talented and in some respect a bit original general didn´t like the mission but started to accomplish the given task with great intensity. During this phase the fortress in Taavetti was reinforced. Four ravelins, triangular fortifications in font of the bastions of the fortress, were built, the ditches were paved, and a citadel was constructed in the northern flank. The population of the fortress town was over 2000. There were over 40 buildings inside the walls, e.g. dwellings, storehouses, the commandants house and a church. The fortress buildings had to be impressive emphasizing the power of its constructor. However, the effective time of the fortress was not long. The repairing and maintenance work of the fortress ended in 1803, and the buildings, which were by that time in poor condition, were sold at auction in 1829. The church was on its place for some time. Some of its foundation stones can still be seen in front of the town hall of Luumäki.

For the last time soldiers were seen in the fortress in the late 19th century when a reserve company of the Mikkeli sniper battalion had its training camp there in summer. In the past few years Museovirasto, the National Board of Antiquities, has restored the fortress. It's now an important attraction, a small piece of history for today´s people. The fortress is situated in the population centre of Luumäki, near the main road 6 and the services tourists need. If you visit the fortress, it's also worth dropping into the Museum of fortress and local history and culture. The museum is near the citadel.

It is supposed that Alexander Suvorov was Finnish in his roots and some have claimed he could speak Finnish, but we cannot be sure of that. This highly distinguished soldier had some peculiar habits which amazed people. He would jog about an hour without any clothes in the morning in his bedroom or tent, and for some reason he couldn´t stand mirrors. Suvorov lived In Finland from 1791 to 1792. His reputation as a skilled military leader he earned on the southern battlefields of Europe in the late 18th century.



Address and map link: Lappeenrannantie 440, Luumäki

The building of Salpa-asema (Salpalinja) was begun after the Finnish Winter War in 1940 when the new borderline was left without proper defense. The defense line spans from the Gulf of Finland to the areas in Salla and Savukoski. The strongest part is between the Gulf of Finland and lake Saimaa. In the north only the parts near roads are fortified.

In those days Salpa-asema was the biggest building project with 35000 workers. The main part of the defense line consists of dugouts for machine guns and soldiers. There are about 700 dugouts made of concrete and steel combined with ditches and anti-tank barriers of stone. The system was completed with field fortification using timber, stone and earth. Also some caves and posts for artillery were constructed. There was also a dam system in lake Kivijärvi . It would have been possible to cause a flood in southern Luumäki and so prevent the enemy from moving ahead.

In Luumäki it's possible to see the fortification arrangements in the eastern part of the community where the main road 6 intersects Salpa-asema. On the both sides of the road you can see dugouts and anti-tank barriers. The flood dam system is located a bit to west and to the west of Taavetti you can spot the rear part of the fortification. The anti-tank barrier stones, the dragon´s teeth, were tested in 1943. The test was attended by Field Marshal Mannerheim with some generals. After the test the barrier stones were placed diagonally in the ditches. Now it was not so easy to direct point blank fire at them and it was more difficult to drive tanks over them. The dugouts were also built so that they were protected against point blank fire.

Amid the Salpa-asema arrangements in the east there are also some fortifications which date back to the World War I. These have different frontlines, they are facing the west direction.

After the Winter War between Finland and the Soviet Union (1939-1940) a new main defense line was decided. Marshal Mannerheim suggested that the line Luumäki-Klamila had to be fortified and supplied with permanent fortification. Although vulnerable for point blank fire, good experiences from the few permanent fortifications of the Winter War encouraged to build them.

Kotkaniemi, the home museum of president P. E. Svinhufvud


Address and map link: Lappeenrannantie 455, Luumäki

Pehr Evind Svinhufvud was elected as a district judge of the Lappee judical district in 1908. A the same time he bought the Kotkaniemi manor situated by lake Kivijärvi from his predecessor, lagman Thome´. The old main building of the manor was south of the present main road 6. The new main building, designed by Lars Sonck was built in 1895.

In his parliamentary work in the early 20th century Svinhufvud opposed the orders of Russia and he was exiled to Siberia. After coming back he had a role in the announcement of Finland´s declaration of independence and he worked as head of state. After this he withdrew from politics for over ten years. In 1930 Svinhufvud was elected to the parliament and soon his task was to form a new government. In 1931 he was elected president of Finland. He wasn´t elected for a second term and he withdrew to his manor, Kotkaniemi, for good. There he died in February 1944.

Nowadays the manor Kotkaniemi serves as the home museum of president P. E. Svinhufvud. Its authentic collections with carefully preserved interiors give a visitor a living impression of the home of Finland´s third president and his wife, Ellen.

Address: Lappeenrannantie 455, 54530 Luumäki


Web-page of National Board of Antiquities



Address and map link: Sarkalahdentie 73, Kannuskoski

It's worth turning off the road 6 and make a visit to Kannuskoski in the western part of Luumäki. You have to drive some kilometers from the main road but the varied scenery along the roadside rewards you. Kannuskoski is a lively and active village. There you can hike on a nature trail, Tolpankankaan luontopolku, and if you are interested in kayaking, the Väliväylä kayaking route goes through the village.




Väliväylä canoeing route