On that day, our targets were the Russian castle Vyborg and the landscape park Monrepo.
We left St. Petersburg for Vyborg, the ancient city located near the Finnish border. It was early morning, and the ring road around St. Petersburg was empty. We had an auto-transmission Peugeot 206 with the usual acceleration for these cars. Although, I must confess that this one was a little bit quicker, especially when I found a button “S” at the transmission box. I pressed it, and the sound of the engine gradually changed to a rumble. I pressed the accelerator, and we almost flew over the ground. 🙂 Oh, I understood then, that S was for “Sport” mode.
An hour and half later, we parked our small “muscle car” near the ancient castle.
Russian castle Vyborg
The city of Vyborg. Center. All that is left of the medieval fortifications called the Horn Fortress is the circular tower. It has a restaurant inside which was opened a long time ago, in 1922.
From time to time, the owners conduct medieval costumed dinners. Such an auspicious moment to imagine you are a knight or a lady-in-waiting. Of course, local weddings are frequently celebrated here. Lets drink some coffee.
The place is fully renovated, but the medieval atmosphere is still present here. It is so mysterious.
Vyborg Castle (Finnish: Viipurin linna, Swedish: Viborgs fästning) is a medieval fortress built by the Swedes. The city of Vyborg evolved around it. The main tower of the castle, named after Saint Olaf, is empty inside. Judging from the windows, or most likely loopholes, the thickness of the walls is something like three meters. A good job, I should say!
The tower of Saint Olaf was under reconstruction, but visitors still could climb up it. The shaky stairs will lead you to the 48-meter-high viewing platform with a view of the city and the gulf.
Vyborg Castle only looks like a medieval building on the outside. Inside, “restorers” built ugly floors and awful walls, completely destroying the ancient atmosphere. Nothing left even for photographing, therefore I beg your pardon, I cannot show you the interior of the castle.
This cannon and the ancient anchor stand at the entrance to Vyborg Castle. How old could they be, I wonder?
I failed to lift it, but, at least, I managed to imprint my modern shoulder into antiquity. So saying, I touched those times and tired myself out.
This is the former beer store of the castle. In this case, all the walls were kept just as they were many hundreds of years ago.
Now it is a storage place of the medieval arms for fans and tourists. Medieval military performances are conducted in the castle every year in August.
The keeper of the collection–a very polite woman–kindly allowed me to try anything I wanted and to take pictures. A suit of chain armor weighs about 30 kilos–heavy enough “dress.” Then, I also took a shield almost of my height and a meter-and-a-half-long sword. Can you imagine Russian warriors wore all these things for many hours during a battle?! When you put on all the equipment yourself, you become overfilled with respect for ancient warriors.
The city of Vyborg
Vyborg is in an awful state. Most of the buildings are almost ruined.
The clock tower was built in the 15th century and completed with clocks and a bell in 1753. They still work.
One more attraction of Vyborg is the House of a Citizen. It is about 500 years old, and is the oldest building here.
The only modern things in it are plastic windows and the plaque on the wall “Architectural monument. Protected by the government.” This has been a bitter joke for Russians for a long time: if something is protected by the government, there will be no order there.
Another “joke” is the announcement at the entry, “Dear residents. On May 20th, central heating will be installed in your house.” Somebody really lives here and uses stove heating—just as they did for the last 500 years!
Look at Vyborg’s central street. Seems as if the bombing was just yesterday. What a marvelous house. This is its inner garden.
Inside the house, you can still see the remnants of the expensive finishing and preserved molding. There was even a fireplace in one of the rooms, or better to say halls. I guess, it is also protected by the government. It has been under so-called reconstruction for a very long time already judging by the height of the trees.
The house fills you with admiration and respect unlike people who keep a beauty like this in such poor condition!
It’s time. We are leaving the ancient Russian castle and city of Vyborg and move further, to Monrepo–a landscape ensemble mimicking the natural environment. Two hundred years ago this place was the country residence of the local sovereign.
The old park of Monrepo is located near Vyborg Castle along the shore of Vyborg Bay. Its owner was the family of Baron Nikolai who served the Russian Tsar. Seems as if he served not badly, because the park is huge!
One side of the park is bounded by the railroad which cuts through the cliff. Standing on the edge of the cliff, you can see trains rushing by below
These rocks were used for building the Annensky fortification to protect the boundary from the Swedes, and it looks like Vyborg Castle was also made of them. The park is full of different steles, arches, and gazebos. It is ideally clean, calm, severe, and somewhat cryptic. People say that Baron Nikolai moved from Vyborg to Monrepo after his resignation. Here, he walked, meditated, and composed verses. My wife Irina also found this landscape poetic.
Many rocks and cliffs again and again pierce through herbage. They are mossy, severe, and typically northern.
No wonder. We are in the north of Europe, several kilometers from the Finnish border. Trees cling to the bare soil with the help of sometimes completely nude and knotty roots.
The Island of the Dead. This is the pantheon of the Baron Nikolais family.
From here, you can see only the Barons memorial.
The former bridge to the Island of the Dead. There are only the beginning and the end, but no bridge itself.
It is shallow here. You can see footprints in the muddy bottom. It looks as if it can be crossed on foot. Why dont we roll up our jeans and go? Its just a few meters. However, some places of the bottom seemed a little suspicious to us. Because of them, we could be in the water up to waist. And we still had to drive back to St. Petersburg.
Moreover, it was cold, about 15 degrees. The cognac we drank in the castle kept us warm, but protested against diving into the cold Baltic water, especially up to the waist. Not without regrets, we gave up.
More about Russia:
Kizhi: The Church Built Without a Single Nail 300 Years Ago!
Abandoned Estate, Bazhenov’s Church, and Abandoned Aircraft: All in One Place
Russian Castle Muromtsevo: An Almost Buried Wonder