Medieval Häme castle (Hämeen linna) has been on my wish list for quite some time. And this year I finally had a chance to visit it!
Forecast for the day I’ve chosen wasn’t so promising, but weather wouldn’t make me change the original plan. Besides, we’ve been really lucky with the weather so far. And I hoped that this weekend won’t be an exception.
Häme castle is located on the coast of lake Vanajavesi in the town of a same name – Hämeenlinna, which is about 100 km north from Helsinki. You can get there by public transport – train or bus. But I think traveling by car is much easier, – that way you also can see most of the city.
Häme castle is surrounded by curtain wall and a moat filled with lake water (not so impressive like in the old times but still).
Castle became a museum and opened its doors for the public in 1988.
Opening hours and ticket prices you can find on their website.
As for us… Instead of buying regular tickets we decided to purchase museum cards that allow us to visit about 250 museums in Finland. It did cost 65 euros or so per person and it’s valid for one year. Keeping in mind that average price of normal museum ticket is 9 euros, this card will pay off after 7-8 visits. So, it was worth of buying since we are planning to visit more museums than that.
In one of the rooms it was possible to try medieval style clothes (but unfortunately only children sizes were available) or a knight armor. You could also ride a noble wooden horse!
* sign says: “This latrine is medieval, so please do not touch. This is the only remaining indoor latrine in the shell keep”.
In the 19th century Häme castle became a prison and it has served as such for more than hundred years.
On the ground floor you can get inside the prison cells and pretend to be a convict. My husband happily agreed to lock me in the cell… and then in some sort of punishment box that looked like a basic horizontal coffin made of plane wood. It was not possible to sit down or lay down in it, only option was to stand. To be honest I’m not afraid of small spaces… but being in that box felt unpleasant and a bit scary. So, not the best place to be if you are claustrophobic.
We also had a chance to visit military shop…
This museum was opened to public in the end of last century. It is dedicated to the history of Finnish artillery – from its birth centuries ago…
…to Winter war and World War II.
Artillery museum of Finland has quite impressive collection, that includes Russian and Soviet artillery equipment, dozens of different cannons, heavy grenade launchers and rocket launchers.
* you can see Häme castle on the background
After few hours of museum tour we were tired, exhausted and hungry like wolves. Luckily, we didn’t have to waste time deciding where to eat. If you came to Hämeenlinna for the first time (like me), then there is only one place where you should start your food journey – famous restaurant Piparkakkutalo or Gingerbread House in English. A bit pricy (well, like any other restaurant in Finland to be honest) but it is most definitely worth visiting.
For me personally it was an amazing experience. Everything was great: interior, atmosphere, service, food… and beer of course!
My husband took arctic char…
And I ordered a lamb shank. God, it was good!
Tasty mashed potatoes, delicious sauce and meat that was cooked to perfection…. Just thought of that dish makes my mouth water!
Another positive surprise was that portions weren’t too small what you would often expect in the fancy restaurants nowadays, where even after a couple courses (including mains) you are still dying from hunger. So yes, I was very happy about Piparkakkutalo. And I’ll gladly recommend it to everyone!
Hope you enjoyed it!