At 6.30 PM, we set off from Geta to Kastelholm Castle, the most famous landmark in Åland located in the municipality of Sund. We were getting ahead of our schedule, which meant more time to explore on the other days!
The distance from Geta to Kastelholm is 29,6 km. and is only supposed to take a couple of hours, but we spent 5 hours on the route, because we were taking it slowly to enjoy the scenery and the quiet evening, where hardly any cars passed by. We also had a long stop on the bridge between the municipalities of Saltvik and Sund, where a tall lookout tower is located. Even in the late evening, it was open and free to go up, so we took advantage of that. The view from the top was even better than that of Geta Mountain, and it didn’t hurt that the sun was setting while we were up there either. It was a beautiful sight.
I was surprised by how much energy both of us had that evening, after biking 23 km. in the morning and then hiking for several hours. We were on fire and unexpectedly managed to reach our destination of Kastelholm Castle located just across the bridge from Saltvik to Sund, where the plan was to set up our tent, so we could finally get some rest. But that was easier said than done. There were too many houses around, and while you’re allowed to camp basically anywhere you want in Åland, it must not be within 150 m. of a building.
We cycled on for several kilometres before finally settling for a half-decent spot in a forest. Thankfully, it never really gets dark during the summer in Åland, but we were getting tired, so we had to find a spot sooner rather than later. We had a few branches poking our backs throughout the night, but despite that we had a nice and long sleep.
Our tent was set up a mere 7 km. from the Bomarsund Ruins, which we decided to visit the following day before going back to Kastelholm Castle.
The Bomarsund Ruins are the remains of the Bomarsund Fortress, which was built by the Russians in the 19th century shortly before the Crimean War, when Åland was part of Russian territory. The fortress was still under construction when the war broke out, and it never got completed as it was destroyed during the war.
The ruins left at the site today show the outline of the fortress, and I could only imagine how magnificent it could’ve been if it had been completed and not destroyed.
We ate our breakfast by the sea near the ruins, before biking back to the tent, packing it up and heading to the open-air museum of Jan Karlsgården, which is a neighbour to Kastelholm Castle.
The open-air museum, which was founded in the 1930s, shows how life was in the countryside in Åland in the late 19th century. There are actors and actresses in all the buildings showing different work techniques from back then, which made it really interesting and a great learning experience.
From the open-air museum, we walked to Kastelholm Castle to take a few pictures of the exterior. The castle was built in the 14th century by the Swedes, when Åland was still part of Sweden, and was home to many nobles, feudal chiefs and kings throughout the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries. The castle has been of strategic importance during the wars in the Baltic Sea over the last several centuries, and has been destroyed and rebuilt several times. Today, the castle stands as a reminder of the great Swedish past, and is now the main tourist sight in Åland.
Originally, our plan for the day would’ve ended at Kastelholm, but because we had caught up so much the day before, we decided to begin the next leg as soon as we were done exploring Kastelholm. More about that in the next post – stay tuned!