Bomarsund


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The Russians began building Bomarsund Fortress in 1830 as a western outpost when Aland and mainland Finland were part of the Russian Empire. The overall plan was for a massive fortified circle almost 3/4 mile (1.1 km) in diameter and extending north-to-south nearly two miles (3km) and designed to house 4,000-5,000 men. The fortress was only partially complete, and vulnerable, when the British and French destroyed it 1854 during the Crimean War.

Large sections of the ruins remain and are publically accessible with detailed interpretive signs throughout. We found an excellent anchorage off one section of the ruins and spent an enjoyable few hours walking the perimeter trail around what remains of the fortress and taking in the views from the cliff above our anchorage.

Below are trip highlights from May 5th, 2019 in Bomarsund, Aland. Click any image for a larger view, or click the position to view the location on a map. And a live map of our current route and most recent log entries always is available at mvdirona.com/maps

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Cable Ferry
Passing the cable ferry between Prasto and Tofto en route from Kastleholm to Bomarsund.
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Fortress Ruins
Our destination for the night is Bomarsund, to explore the ruins of the 19th-century Russian fortress Bomarsund. A portion of the ruins are visible as we round the headland towards the anchorage.
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Notviken
Anchored at Notviken beneath the imposing Notviksbergen cliff.
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Bomarsund Fortress
Aland and mainland Finland were part of the Russian Empire from 1809 to 1918. The Russians began to build Bomarsund Fortress at Aland in 1830 as a western outpost. This map shows the overall plan for the fortress—a massive fortified circle almost 3/4 mile (1.1 km) in diameter and extending north-to-south nearly two miles (3km) and designed to house 4,000-5,000 men. The fortress was only partially complete, and vulnerable, when the British and French destroyed it 1854 during the Crimean War.

The red dot at the top of the map marks Notvik Tower (Notvikstornet) that we could see on approach to the anchorage. The dotted line marks a 2.6m (4.2km) walking trail around the perimeter.

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Notvik Tower
We landed the tender below Notvik Tower and walked up the rocks for a great view to our anchorage through the ruins.
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Breakfast
We’d hadn’t yet had breakfast, but wanted to get out in the tender right away to take advantage of the morning light for photographs. So we brought a picnic breakfast and had our meal at Notvik Tower.
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Panorama
As with most military fortresses, Notvik Tower has a commanding view of the area (click image for a larger view). The tower was one of only three completed off the twelve planned. Each tower was 140ft (42m) in diameter and 45ft (14m) high.
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Cannons
Old cannons with Notvik Tower in the background.
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Notviken from Trail
We set off counterclockwise on the fortress perimeter trail. This is the view looking north down Notviken across the boat moorings along the east shore. Dirona is a small white dot in the distance (click image for a larger view).
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Storm Alfrida
More Storm Alfrida damage: we had to crawl under several trees that blocked a staircase leading up.
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Defensive Barracks
Interpretive signs, in Swedish, Finnish, English, and Russian, provided detailed information about the sights along the trail. Here we are looking into a valley where the plan was to build a 500m-long barracks building with 200 rooms. Construction had not begun before the fortress was destroyed. Notvik Tower is visible in the distance.
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Range Mark
The top portion of a range mark on 203ft (62m) Djavulsberget.
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Djavulsberget
The view northeast across our anchorage from 203ft (62m) Djavulsberget.
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Brannklint Tower
The ruins of Brannklint Tower, one of three of the twelve planned towers completed. During the battle for control of the fortress, the powder magazine exploded, destroying the tower.
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Tower A
Tower A was one of five round towers that would form part of the fortresses defenses and was designed to house 250 men. Only the foundation, shown, was laid before the fortress was destroyed.
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Main Fort Walls
Ruins of the main fort walls. After overcoming the Russian forces, the British and French troops destroyed the fortress so it couldn’t be used again.
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Main Fortress Ruins
A diagram showing the ambitious main fortress at Bomarsund, designed to be a symbol of the Russian Czar’s authority in the Baltic Sea.
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Bridge
The bridge over shallow Angosund. The fortress designers assumed that military sailing ships could not pass through this channel, but by the 1850s technology had advanced beyond sail and even the largest steam-powered ships could pass through and approach the fortress beyond the range of its defensive cannons.
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Main Fortress North Wall
Jennifer standing in front of the eastern walls of the main fortress give an idea of the size and scale of the ruins.
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Dirona under Notvik Tower
The view east across the anchorage at Notviken from base of Notviksbergen cliff.
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Notviken Head
We followed a partial trail to the top of Notviksbergen for an excellent view. This is looking south towards the head of Notviken where we were walking earlier today.
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Notviksbergen
View across Notviken from the top of Notviksbergen cliff with Notvik Tower visible in the distance.
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Dusk
Notvik Tower aglow at dusk, viewed from the anchorage at Notviken.
Show locations on map Click the travel log icon on the left to see these locations on a map, with the complete log of our cruise.

On the map page, clicking on a camera or text icon will display a picture and/or log entry for that location, and clicking on the smaller icons along the route will display latitude, longitude and other navigation data for that location. And a live map of our current route and most recent log entries always is available at mvdirona.com/maps.

 
 


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4 comments on “Bomarsund
  1. Doug R says:

    Hi James and Jennifer – the photo titled “Djavulsberget”, with Jennifer looking down in Dirona at anchor captures the essence of your whole odyssey better than anything else I’ve seen in the years I’ve been following you. Technically it looks like a bit of burn and dodge on the specific “print” but the essence of the composition captures things perfectly.

    What an amazing journey.

    • Jennifer is slightly under exposed and the boat and background slightly over exposed but it’s difficult to avoid when the dynamic range gets that wide. However, the location was unbeatable and the weather was excellent.

  2. John S. says:

    Interesting stuff. Love the photos from the hilltops — it looks like such a wonderful place to cruise.

    • It was a very cool visit. We chose the anchorage because we liked being up against the vertical cliff and that was great. But it ended up working out even better in that the picture from Notvik tower ended up being able to include Dirona up against the cliff. The light that day was excellent. Overall Bomarsund was an interesting hike and a fun visit.

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