Among other surprises, there is one specific detail that makes Kajaani Castle ruins genuinely unique – perhaps in the whole world. Although this specific detail divides opinions; Some people hate it, I find it extremely interesting.
During our winter break in Vuokatti, our poor calves desperately needed one-day break from snowshoeing. Yet it didn’t mean a break from daily excursions to interesting attractions in nearby areas.
Instead of snowshoeing, we decided to drive to the nearest town, Kajaani, that’s also the ‘capital’ of Kainuu region in Eastern Finland. Located within half an hours drive from Vuokatti, the sight that tempted us the most was Kajaani Castle.
Or better said, what’s left of the castle that was blown up by the Russians back in 1716.
We have many famous castles and castle ruins all over Finland, but to be completely honest with you, I didn’t remember hearing about this one until searching for winter destinations in the town of Kajaani. Daniel and I get very easily excited about any kinds of castles, so it was quite obvious that the ruins of Kajaani Castle would be the main point of interest for us.
And it was a top choice. This ruined castle turned out to be a lot more interesting that we dared to expect.
The specific detail that makes Kajaani Castle ruins truly unique is a bridge that many locals and also visitors resent.
Kajaani Castle is very easy to find as it’s located right next to the town centre. One of the exciting features of the castle ruins is that they’re standing on a little island in the middle of Kajaaninjoki river. A footbridge leads visitors to the castle all year round, but in winter you’ll visit at your own risk.
In case you own spike soles… make sure you’ll wear them.
No one knows exactly how Kajaani Castle looked like after it was built in the beginning of the 17th century. Even so the foundations of the old stone buildings, and even the dungeons, are still standing inside the castle walls.
The frosty stone walls are sparkling in the dim daylight of the cloudy January day making the ruins look beautiful, even a bit enigmatic, I would say.
Icy conditions made our little excursion feel like a true adventure. Climbing to the remaining castle walls in winter is more than challenging. If you’re strong enough, you can drag yourself up the stairs holding the freezing cold steel rail to prevent your feet slipping on the frozen snow.
Coming down is a different story.
While balancing on the ragged walls, you’ll be able to admire the park views spreading along the riverbanks. You can imagine how Kajaani Castle once looked like, and what has happened inside those brick walls. But while standing there, you won’t be able to see the whole castle. Or what’s left of it.
The road bridge built on the ruins is making it impossible.
This concrete bridge was built in 1930s to replace the old wooden bridge that couldn’t hold the increasing amount of cars in the growing town. The bridge has been resented ever since. Tearing down the bridge comes to the fore every once in a while, but finding an alternative route isn’t so simple.
Besides the central and one-of-a-kind location in the middle of the river, and besides the fact that visiting the ruins in winter is kind of an exotic experience, the road bridge makes Kajaani castle ruins genuinely unique.
Perhaps unique in the whole world? Despite of several attempts, I haven’t been able to find another ruined castle like this. Let’s admit it, the concrete bridge might not be the most beautiful bridge in the world, but it surely makes Kajaani Castle ruins even more intriguing.
So, if you want to get a big picture of Kajaani Castle ruins, the best way to do it is to walk to the road bridge. There’s a path on each side of the bridge with an extended area for photographing right above the ruins. While admiring the view from the bridge, you can try to think of another city or town where a road bridge has been built on castle ruins like in Kajaani. Let me know, if you can think of one.
Oh, but don’t worry, there’s a lot more to the surprises and secrets of Kajaani Castle ruins than one concrete bridge.
A story tells that a golden goat statue has been buried in the courtyard of the castle. The story has got supporters all over the world, and every know and then someone wants to come and dig it up, even if nothing has been found before. It’s better not to get too excited though; As the castle is a protected site, getting a permission for excavations would be extremely difficult.
Some stories also mention a ghost that is walking around the castle island. Our visit in Kajaani Castle ruins was fairly short, but we didn’t see neither ghosts nor a golden goat.
More day trip ideas for Eastern Finland:
Nature, Snow and Koli National Park – Finland, You’re So Beautiful You Don’t Even Need Editing!
Cruising on Europe’s Longest Inland Ice Road
Winter Holiday in Vuokatti – Not a Bad Alternative to Crowded Lapland
Out of Breath (and Snowshoes) in the Vuokatti Hills
Winter Adventures in Eastern Finland: Frozen Waterfall of Hepoköngäs
A snowshoeing excursion that didn’t quite go as planned
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