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 a 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 the 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 than 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 the 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 what Kajaani Castle looked like after it was built at 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 from 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 what 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 the 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 the Kajaani castle ruins genuinely unique.
Perhaps unique in the whole world? Despite 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 now 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 permission for excavations would be extremely difficult.
Some stories also mention a ghost that is walking around the castle island. Our visit to Kajaani Castle ruins was fairly short, but we saw neither ghosts nor a golden goat.