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Hame 1 Exterior view of Häme Castle at Hämeenlinna. The castle of today is the outcome of construction over 700 years. The original greystone fortification emerged as a brick faced castle at the end of the Middle Ages. This period was during the Vasa kings in the 16th century. In the 18th century the castle was turned into a granary, and in 1837 into a prison. It's use as a prison continued until 1953, when restoration work to return it to its original form started. The castle and encircling fortifications reflect that of fortress building from the 13th century.
Hame Castle moot The moot around the outer walls of Häme Castle. A nearby river was the source of water to fill the moot. The castle was founded as a result of an expedition to Häme by the Swedish nobleman Birger Jarl, this crusade took place in the first half of the 13th century, with both 1239 and 1249 as possibly dates. The first written reference to the castle was in 1308. A castle mound at Hakoinen, about six miles away, an old Häme stronghold that was re-fortified by Birger Jarl, is thought to be the predecessor to this castle. The reason for building a castle in Häme was to establish Swedish rule firmly among the people of Häme, and to reinforce the defense of this area of Finland.
Hame Castle wall The outer walls of Häme Castle are on the right, the main inner castle on the left. In the foreground is the castle bakery, part of the outer wall. The Uusikaupunki Peace Treaty of 1721 changed the whole defense situation, and work was started to improve the defense of Häme Castle, and turn it into an arsenal. It was in connection was this improvement project that a new bakery was started in the late 1730s. The building had six big baking ovens, and a vault for drying bread in the attic. The building had not yet been completed when the War of the Hats broke out in 1741. The Häme Castle bakery is one of a large number of bakeries built in Swedish forts to safeguard the supply of dry bread for the army, and is the oldest remaining example of such a bakery in Finland.
Hame Castle wall The outer wall of the Häme Castle is on the left, the inner castle on the right. You can see evidence of many changes to the castle during the hundreds of years that it has existed.. The construction phases of the Häme Castle: Fortified camp in the 1260s, Greystone fort from 1270 to 1300, Gate Tower from 1300 to 1350, Brick castle from early 1300s to 1450, and Corner towers from 1480 to 1520.
Hame Castle wall The outer wall of the Häme Castle is on the left, the inner castle on the right. One of the main guard towers is seen in the center top of the picture. Although a great deal is known of the architectural history of the castle, little is known of life there. From the Middle Ages, only hints of life have been provided by a small number of finds and documents.
Hame Castle tower One of the corner fortress towers of Häme Castle, built between 1480 and 1520. During the reign of Gustavus Vasa and his sons, both the ordinance and interiors were renewed to keep up with the new stylistic requirements brought to the North by the Renaissance. The corner fortress towers, built between 1480 and 1520, were the last extensive building project at the castle during the Middle Ages.
Hame Castle tower Another view of one of the corner fortress towers of Häme Castle. On 5 June 1659 the castle was ravaged by fire. The wooden structures were completely destroyed. A record from 1687 shows that most of the castle was renovated and roofed.
Hame Castle entrance The original entrance to the inner castle. It wasn't restored because modifications the the castle, over the centuries, including the prison, changed the area so much that the original configuration is not known and couldn't be determine because of all the changes made. The use of the castle as a prison started in 1837. The alterations for that purpose badly disfigured the original architecture.
Hame Castle interior A greystone chamber within the castle, built in the late 13th century. The walls are original, but the windows and doors have been reconstructed. The basic design of this area consisted of an area about 45 feet (14 meters) square, with a series of rooms around it.
Hame Castle interior Another view of a greystone chamber within the castle. The rooms in the greystone phase are still largely in their original condition. Häme Castle lost its status as the administrative center of the province in 1634, when a governor was appointed. From then on, it was merely a military base where prisoners were kept, commanded by a "Hauptmann" or commandant instead of a constable. Helsinki became the residence of the governor.
Hame Castle interior The passage from the greystone chamber to the new main entrance to the castle. Also, because of Sweden's political and military status, the castle was not properly cared for. The Great Northern War broke out in 1700, and the castle had to be renovated for defensive purposes. The work was probably not completed, as the castle was surrendered to the Russians in 1713, without any resistance. When peace was restored in 1721, the defense of Finland had been altered, basically because of the loss of Viipuri. After the Great Northern War the stronghold was converted into a granary in the 1720s and 1730s, and raised by one story.
Hame Castle interior The original great hall or Constable's Chamber of the castle from the late 13th century, used today as a banquet room. Withe the exception of the doors at the ends, the room has been preserved in its original condition.
Hame Castle interior The entry from the outer courtyard to the inner castle passes passes by the interior well, which was probably the first construction project of the castle builders. The well is dry now.
Hame Castle interior The upper level of the inner courtyard. This area took on this appearance at the end of the Middles Ages. The ornamentation is from the 15th century. This is the best preserved area of the brick castle. The brickwork was uncovered from under a thick layer of plaster which was added during the time when the castle was a prison.
Hame Castle interior

Kings Hall, originally the Great Hall. It's original form has been restored. The original vaulting, from about 1400, had collapsed or been pulled down. The twin-aisle, six groin vaulting is similar to that found in Turku Castle.

Like Finland's other "castles of the realm", Häme Castle and province were governed by a nobleman. All through the Middle Ages the castle was governed according to feudal principles, although it belonged to the crown. The castle was usually under the command of a constable or commandant. Constables appointed by the king managed Häme Castle. The constables kept accounts and issued statements on revenue and expenditure for the castle and province. Preserved accounts from 1539 contain notes on construction work at the castle, room names and furnishings.

Hame Castle interior The Häme Castle and its surroundings, from a picture taken in 1869. The castle surrendered to the Russians on 8 March 1808. In the first decade of the new autonomous Grand Duchy of Finland, the castle and surrounding fortifications came under Russian military rule. In the 1810s, the ramparts (walls and embankments) left unfinished by the Swedes were completed, and the 16th century western gun tower was pulled down. The German architect C.L. Engle came up with a plan to further enhance the castle. In 1953, restoration of Häme Castle began, and this restoration project has been the largest and most thorough single restoration project of its kind in Finland. The object of the restoration project was to restore the castle to what it looked like before it was employed as a prison in the 19th century. Plans used to restore Turku and Olavinlinna Castle were followed, with the main objective being to open the castle to the general public as a historical monument. The stronghold was opened to the public on 4 April 1979, with restorating being completed in 1985.
Hame Castle interior An exhibit in Häme Castle which tells of settlement of Alaska by Finnish people, on behave of the Russian Empire. The Grand Duchy of Finland, part of the Russian Empire, existed from the early 1800's until May 1918.
Hame Castle interior An exhibit in Häme Castle which tells about archealogical projects in Finland over the past 75 years.

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