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Vanhalinna Image When Turku Castle was built at the end of the 13th century it was called the New Castle to distinguish it from the older fortification which was situated on a hill in Lieto about ten kilometres further up the River Aura. It has been estimated that the Old Castle of Lieto – Vanhalinna – was destroyed when Turku/Åbo was attacked by Novgorod in the beginning of the 14th century.

The earliest phases of the hill fort are not indisputably known. The hill was probably fortified as far back as in the mid-Iron Age period, in the 6th and 8th centuries AD. However, it is known for certain that the fortress protected the occupants of the region during the Viking Era from the end of the 11th century onwards.

South-Western Finland has been the most central area of the country over the centuries, and the riverbanks of the River Aura became populated as the land rose from the sea after the Ice Age. In Lieto, the inhabitants witnessed from the hill fort the arrival of various people to the distant north. Among the newcomers were peaceful merchants, plundering troops and missionaries of Christianity.

Vanhalinna Image The Middle Ages were also the golden age of the Ox Road of Häme (Hämeen Härkätie), which passes by Vanhalinna. At that time, this road connected the castles of Turku and Häme, which is located some 130 kilometres north-east of Turku. In addition to soldiers and men of the crown, pilgrims and other travellers also used the route. The Ox Road of Häme was the northernmost branch of the European pilgrimage route that led to Spain, all the way to Santiago de Compostela.

Today the archaeological significance of the Vanhalinna area in Lieto depends not only on the ancient castle and the rich archaeological findings in its surroundings – the area is owned by the Turku University Foundation and the archaeologists of the university have an important base there. There is also an archaeological and ethnological museum. The museum was founded in 1956, when Mauno and Ester Wanhalinna donated their home estate to the University of Turku. Vanhalinna Image Vanhalinna is now also functioning as a seminar centre: the neoclassical main building, which was built in 1930, can host a smaller seminar and the former stone-made cowhouse has been made into a big dining hall. The dinner on Wednesday 30 May 2007, will take place in the Vanhalinna manor. Please wear comfortable shoes so you may climb to the top of the old fort hill after the dinner to enjoy the midnight sunlight.

Click here for more information about Vanhalinna (in Finnish only).
Virtual map of the area (in Finnish only)
Vanhalinna manor (slide show, 10 min.)