Western Cultural Route
of the River Kymijoki

The Town of Loviisa (items 1–20 on the map)

The old houses and parks of Loviisa on the western shore of the Bay of Loviisa constitute a particularly harmonious and attractive town milieu built in the 18th and 19th century.

Whether you are coming from west, the direction of Helsinki, or east, the direction of Kotka and St Petersburg, exits from Highway E18 will bring you directly to the historical centre of the town and Mannerheiminkatu, the main thoroughfare in Loviisa.

In the central part of the 1.5-kilometre-long Mannerheiminkatu and the Esplanad park right next to the street, you will find the Town Hall with its twin towers, designed by architect Georg Chiewitz, and the Market Square, which is surrounded by imposing 19th century stone buildings.

Main fairs in the Loviisa Market Square in 2016 include the Midsummer market on June 21st, Loviisa Day market on September 25th and Christmas market on December 8th.

The fortresses Ungern and Rosen near the eastern end of the street were built next to the Bay of Loviisa in the 1750s, and the neo-gothic church in the western end of the street was built in the 1860s. The previous church was destroyed in 1855 in a major fire which spared only a few oldest house blocks in the city.

The church is a popular concert venue with seats for 800 people. The front section of the altar under the high arch is dominated by an impressive plaster replica of a large-scale statue of Christ made by the famous Danish sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen (1770–1844) for the Copenhagen Cathedral.

About 300 metres from the Town Hall is the neofunctionalist bus station, a pearl of the wartime architecture built in 1943–44. Coach service in the region of Loviisa was launched in 1924 with the first route Loviisa–Ruotsinkylä–Elimäki–Lapinjärvi–Loviisa running partly on the Cultural Road. Regular service to Kotka and Helsinki began in 1925.

The First Decades of Loviisa and the Swedish Fortresses

The town of Loviisa and its commercial harbour were founded on the lands of the Degerby Estate in the parish of Pernaja in 1745. The name Loviisa was given later, in 1752 when Adolf Fredrick, the King of Sweden, came to inspect the new border town for the first time. Already, the town and the harbour were protected by partly finished land fortifications in the east and by the Svartholma Sea Fortress out in the sea, 10 kilometres from the old harbour of Loviisa.

King Adolf Fredrick was very pleased with what he saw especially in Svartholma. As a token of his appreciation he named the new border town after her beloved wife Louisa Ulrika, who was the sister of Frederick the Great, the king of Prussia.

King Adolf Fredrick's inspection trip continued to the rapids of Ahvenkoski, along the route of the Cultural Road to the border station of Keltti, and further on through Iitti to the provinces of Häme and Pohjanmaa in Central and Western Finland.

The fortresses were important because the little border and harbour town Loviisa was established after Sweden lost the so-called "Hats' War" of 1741–43 against Russia. They protected Sweden's newly drawn eastern border along the Kymijoki River and its westernmost branch of Ahvenkoski.

Loviisa also replaced Hamina as Sweden's main commercial port in the eastern Gulf of Finland.

Adolf Fredrick's son King Gustav III travelled the same route on the western shores of the Kymijoki River several times, particularly when he attacked Russia in the Kymijoki River Valley and waged war against her cousin Catherine II in 1788–1790.

The war was mainly fought in three subsequent summers, and again Sweden was unsuccessful. Both sides lost about 11 000 men and King Gustav III had to deal with an officer mutiny, the so-called Anjala Conspiracy.

Sweden won the second naval battle of Svensksund outside the present city of Kotka on 9th–10th July 1790, after which peace negotiations begun and the peace treaty was signed in Värälä, Elimäki. The border between the two countries was almost unchanged and neither side ceded any territory.

However, almost all the houses along the Kymijoki River were looted and destroyed once again.

Loviisa's time as Swedish border fortress came to an end in 1808, when the Svartholma fortress surrendered practically without a fight to the Russian army attacking across the Kymijoki River at the rapids of Ahvenkoski. That was the start of the Finnish war of 1808–1809, and as the result of the war Finland became part of the Russian Empire as the Grand Duchy of Finland.

In 1809 Czar Alexander I summoned the Diet of Porvoo during which he granted Finland a strong autonomous state. In 1812 the Czar even restored the so-called Old Finland, the area east of the Kymijoki River conquered by Russia in the 18th century, including Southern Karelia and the region of Lappeenranta.

The next conflict of the great powers affecting Finland was the Crimean war, which came to Loviisa in summer 1855, shortly before the great fire destroyed most of the town.

The English fleet sailing on the Baltic Sea did not attack the houses and stores of Loviisa, but, instead, it bombarded the Russian-held Svartholma fortress rendering it unsuitable for military purposes.

The fortress of Bomarsund in the Åland islands had already met a similar fate the previous summer.

You can visit the island of Svartholma in summer by boarding a boat at the Laivasilta Marina in Old Loviisa. The fortress island has a guest harbour and a summer restaurant. If you are curious about the history of the island, you can take a guided walking tour. There are also adventure games for children.

The renovated Ungern fortress is a centre of cultural events in summertime. It is an excellent place for concerts, singing festivals and summer theatre. For additional information please visit www.visitloviisa.fi


Loviisan Laivasilta ry Puh. 040 554 7449 ja 0400 164 878 www.visitloviisa.fi

In the summer months, the place to go in Loviisa is the Laivasilta Marina in the old harbour with restaurants, exhibitions, boutiques and a stage for live music.

If you feel like dancing, you can join the Midsummer Dance on the evening of Summer Solstice on June 24th.

The most lively weekend of the summer is in the last weekend of August with the Laivasilta Market and other events.

Laivasilta Marina is an ideal starting point for a walk around Old Loviisa, its alleys and gravel streets lined with wooden villas, the beautiful Myllyharju area, and the view tower of Kukkukivi representing national romanticism.

The Myllyharju Ridge runs along the sea shore. In the 18th and 19th centuries it was kept bare to ensure proper wind power to a long line of windmills built on top of the ridge. The oldest part of the town is the Sepänkuja alley with houses built as early as the 1660s.

The Historical Houses and Open Gardens of Loviisa

During the Open Garden Days in early summer – May 29th, June 5th and 12th, and August 7th at 12.00-18.00 o'clock – you have the opportunity to take a peek at a number of private gardens.

During the Historical Houses event on the last weekend of August, dozens of century-old private homes will have their doors open for visitors for two days.

On the same weekend the town centre will be taken over by flea markets and yard sales, and there will be a discussion forum and consultation service on traditional methods of construction and conservation.

Loviisa Celebrated the 150th Anniversary of Jean Sibelius

Known for its outstanding exhibitions, the Loviisa Town Museum, street address Puistokatu 2, is located in the three-storey Commandant's House built in 1755 on the northern edge of town centre. The museum has a special room dedicated to Jean Sibelius. You can visit both the museum and its garden displaying ornamental and domesticated plants free of charge.

Another Sibelius attraction in Loviisa is the summer residence of young Jean Sibelius in the childhood home of his father (nowadays housing a music school, street address Sibeliuksenkatu 10). Here young Jean spent many summers and, after studying in Vienna, completed his breakthrough symphony Kullervo in autumn 1891.

Loviisa Sibelius Festival September 8th –10th

The concerts will be held in the Loviisa church and in other places in the centre of Loviisa town. For more information, please see www.visitloviisa.fi

The Loviisa Kappeli Restaurant – Culture events, lunch and dinner restaurant

Street address: Kuningattarenkatu 18

Next to the Commandant's House in the old Kappeli park is the Kappeli Restaurant which has catered to diners, guests of honour, and audiences of various events since 1865, the year Jean Sibelius was born.

During Loviisa's renowned spa days from 1865 to 1935, the Kappeli Restaurant, a pearl of Finnish wood architecture, was a gathering place of the international société, and you could also see the young Jean Sibelius playing there with his friend-musicians.

The restaurant was fully renovated in its original style in 2008–13 by the present owner.

In the southern corner of Kappeli Park there is another magnificent wooden building: the former Loviisa Seurahuone, a hotel and restaurant built in 1863, designed by Georg Chiewitz. The building and the beautiful ceiling decorations were renovated by the town of Loviisa in 1998, and now the building houses the Loviisa library. Young Jean Sibelius is known to have frequented both restaurants as a customer and musician.

Painter Helene Schjerfbeck's Refuge in Loviisa in 1941–42

On August 15th and 16th 2015 the Kappeli Restaurant puts on two performances of the stage play Helene (in Swedish) based on the letters of Helene Schjerfbeck, one of the most appreciated artists in Scandinavia.

She had been fighting illnesses for all her life when, in June 1941, as the short peace after the Winter War was coming to end, she rented a room in the old ladies' home in the centre of Loviisa and moved there from Tammisaari near Hanko.

The house had been built in 1937 and it was very modern. We know from Helene's letters that she quite liked her room after acquiring new furniture. But soon fighting against the Soviet Union started again and Loviisa was already bombed on July 6th 1941.

In the following weeks Schjerfbeck evacuated on several occasions to a nearby farm in Nykulla, Pernaja, staying with friends of the governess of the old ladies' home. Returning once again to Loviisa she had the shock of her life on the evening of October 9th when an entire cellar window of the ladies' home was blown to her arms. Fortunately she survived with a few bruises.

The ladies' home was repaired and it is still there in its original use on Itäinen tullikatu.

In February 1942 Schjerfbeck's Stockholm-based patron Gösta Stenman arranged her a much more peaceful refuge in an annex of the Luontola Sanatorium in Vihti. When the fortunes of war were turning against Finland in February 1944, Schjerfbeck finally accepted Stenman's invitation, took an aeroplane to Stockholm and settled in the sanatorium of Saltsjöbaden where she stayed until her death in January 1946.

Bonga Castle Creates New Cultural History in Loviisa

Street address: Linnankuja 1, entrance on Lukkarinkuja

For 20 years professor, artist Riitta Nelimarkka and her husband Jaakko Seeck have created original ways of expression with results that are exhilarating both to adults and children, as you can see in the Bonga Castle, a veritable hive of arts and creative work right next to Loviisa church.

Bonga Castle gallery and graphics shop display an extensive cross-section of Riitta Nelimarkka's internationally acclaimed works, as well as examples of the works of her painter grandfather, professor Eero Nelimarkka (1891–1977).

The castle and its garden host concerts and other cultural events. In 1914 Bonga Castle and Riitta Nelimarkka were invited to a partnership with the European Museum Academy EMA.

Bonga Castle was built in 1904–06. Originally its ornaments and tapering towers represented jugendstil, and the present neoclassical and functional style is a result of rebuilding in the 1920s.

After the renovation, the castle was the home and the office of Lennart Baumgartner, owner of the Stockfors grinding mill on the Kymijoki River in Pyhtää. Most of the wooden panels and wallpapers inside the house have been preserved from this period.

Trotting Races in Loviisa

The horse racing track of Loviisa at the northern end of the street of Kuningattarenkatu is one of the most popular summertime horse racing tracks in Finland. This year there are races on four Mondays – June 6th and 27th, July 12th and 25th – at 6.30 p.m. and on Sunday August 7th at 2 p.m.

You can bet on horses and watch the races in the cafeteria and restaurant of the track. As usual, there is a special bus bringing horse racing fans from Kouvola and the northern Kymenlaakso valley.

Tamminiemi Park and Holiday Resort

Street address: Kapteenintie 1, Loviisa

The Bay of Loviisa opens from the Laivasilta Marina towards the Baltic Sea with a view of several kilometres. On the southern shore of the Tullisilta cape you will find Loviisa's most popular beach Plagen and the Tamminiemi Holiday Resort and its parks.

The English-style landscape park and the roomy villa in Tamminiemi were built by the merchant family of consul Alfred Björkstén.

He was the wealthiest townsman and a representative in the parliament. Björkstén owned sawmills on Lake Päijänne and a fleet of ships carrying timber to Central Europe and bringing back salt, coffee, tobacco, wine, olive oil, bar iron, bricks and various parcel goods to the port of Loviisa.

Even the large-scale statue of Christ in the Church of Loviisa was transported by one of Björkstén's ships.

Björkstén's packet yacht Österstjernan was a pioneer in carrying passengers between Finland and Sweden.

It operated a regular cargo and passenger service between Loviisa and Stockholm in 1815–49.

The modern Osterstjernan is an exact copy of the original packet yacht sailing to Stockholm. You can board the Österstjernan at Laivasilta for a charter cruise or a sightseeing trip.

After the fire that destroyed most of Loviisa in 1855 Alfred Björkstén built a two-storey stone house for his family on the Loviisa Square, and in the 1870s he built himself a summer home, an Empire style wooden villa in the middle of Tamminiemi Park.

The restored drawing and sleeping rooms of the villa and the rooms in the rear building have been converted to a hotel offering seaview accommodation for visitors to Loviisa. Another option is the seaside camping site in Tamminiemi.

The park was modernized in the 1920s under the premier park designer Paul Olsson who has also designed for example the large park in the summer residence of the president of Finland in Kultaranta, Naantali.

Hotel Degerby

Street address: Brandensteininkatu 17, 07900 Loviisa
Reception tel. +358 (0)19 50 561, www.degerby.com

Hotel Degerby

The cosy first-rate downtown hotel with 50 non-smoking rooms and a restaurant was built in 1992. Room price includes plentiful breakfast buffet with a large selection of local delicacies. Special rooms for families, allergic persons and people with physical disabilities.

Free parking and wifi for guests. Conference rooms and saunas available.

Pilasterit B&B

Sepänkuja 8, 07900 Loviisa, tel. 044 565 1011


Originally a two-storey mansion from the 18th century in the alley of Sepänkuja, the oldest part of the town.

Pilasterit offers B&B accommodation for 20 people and facilities for celebrations. There's a beautiful garden with a former blacksmith's forge converted to a small German-style beerhouse at the back.

All the rooms and apartments in the main building and the annexes are individually furnished with accommodation. There's a breakfast and a sauna available for private booking.

Gasthaus Loviisa

Street address: Sibeliuksenkatu 3

Gasthaus Loviisa is a 1960s and 1970s style guest house next to the Loviisa church and the Sibelius house. There are 14 non-smoking rooms and a sauna with a pool. All rooms have a washbasin and a fridge. Shared showers and toilets are in the hallway. Conference room for 25 persons. Breakfast on order for groups and wifi. Plenty of free parking space in the neighbouring lot.