Aland Islands: Bomarsund Fort ruins
Åland Islands have a complicated history – first Danish, then Swedish for 500 years, the Russian for almost 200 years. Bomarsund fortress was a spectacular circular fortress built by Russians in the 19th century at the westernmost outpost of the empire. The fortress housed over 5,000 soldiers, which was almost double the Åland Islands’ population at the time. The fortress was deemed to be impregnable from both land and sea. When the Crimean War broke out, French and British forces assaulted the fortress. Two massive battles and a siege lasted for days, one of the biggest battles ever fought in the Baltic Sea. Eventually, with massive bombardment in both directions and heavy casualties on both sides, the fortress was captured and in the aftermath blown up to pieces by the British so it would never be rebuilt again.