Castle: Kastelholm

Kastelholm in Aaland, Finland

Location: Aaland, Finland, Europe
Built: 1380s
Status: Still standing


The construction of Kastelholm started in the 1380s, and it was first mentioned in Queen Maragaret I of Denmark’s contract. Bo Jonsson Grip, the castle’s first occupant, gave a large deal of inheritance to the queen. The castle was at its best during the 15th and 16th centuries.

Niels Eriksen Gyldenstjerne, the Danish Steward of he Realm during 1453-1456, obtained Kastelholm in 1485. Over the years, the castle was given several enhancements, most notably ones made by Gustav Vasa prior to becoming king of Sweden. He used to regularly use the surrounding area for hunting. The area was protected by a law stating that only the castle’s governor and the king could hunt on said grounds.

By the 16th century, Kastelholm had a shipyard employing 50 shipwrights. In 1505, Danish naval officer Søren Norby stole the castle from the hands of the Swedes, and by 1559, Finland had its first Gypsies. King John III kept his deposed brother, Eric XIV, in captivity inside the castle during the autumn of 1571.

The castle belonged to Katarina Stenrbrock, an enemy of King Eric XIV, during the late 16th century. The castle was damaged severely by cannon-fire when King Charles IX took the castle in the 1599 civil war. All damages were repaired by 1631. Kastelholm lost its status as an administrative center and overall importance in 1634 after a change in the county system.

The castle was in an era of decay from the 1600s onwards. A huge fire added to the mix in 1745. For a short while, the castle served as a prison, but it was abandoned by the 1770s. A post office moved in some time in 1809, but it moved to the Bomarsund.

During the 1930s, Kastelholm was used as a granary and quarry for local farms. Restoration programs began in 1982, and most of the castle has been reconstructed since the 1990s. Nowadays, it is used as the Outdoor Museum Jan Karlsgården. Kastelholm is believed to be haunted by Queen Catherine, one of the wives of Swedish King Gustav Vasa. She is thought to be looking for her lost silver, as he spirit looks like she is searching for something.



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