Russian Castles: Vyborg

On that day, our targets were the Russian castle Vyborg and the landscape park Monrepo.

The castle of Viborg in Russia.

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.

The city of Viborg. Russia.

The center of Viborg. Russia.

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. Let’s drink some coffee.

The circular tower 0f the former castle in the center of Viborg, Russia.

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!

Russian castle of Viborg.

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.

Olaf Tower. Russian castle of Viborg.

Panorama of Viborg. Russia.

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?

Enter to the Russian castle of Viborg.

A canon in Russian castle of Viborg.

The Russian castle of Viborg.

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.

Inside of the Russian castle of Viborg.

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.

The walls of the Russian castle of Viborg.

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 medieval armor in the Russian castle of Viborg.

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 medieval armor in the Russian castle of Viborg.

The city of Vyborg

Vyborg is in an awful state. Most of the buildings are almost ruined.

Viborg. Russia

The old street of Viborg. Russia.

The clock tower was built in the 15th century and completed with clocks and a bell in 1753. They still work.

The old clock tower of Viborg. Russia.

One more attraction of Vyborg is the House of a Citizen. It is about 500 years old, and is the oldest building here.

The oldest house of Viborg, Russia.

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.

The old house of Viborg. Russia.

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!

On the main square of Viborg. Russia.

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!

Park Monrepo. Viborg, Russia.

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

The old railway in Monrepo. Viborg, Russia.

The old railway in Monrepo. Viborg, Russia.

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.

Park Monrepo. Viborg, Russia.
Park Monrepo. Viborg city, Russia.

Many rocks and cliffs again and again pierce through herbage. They are mossy, severe, and typically northern.

Park Monrepo. Viborg city, Russia.

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 Nikolai’s family.

The Island of Deads. Park Monrepo. Viborg, Russia.

From here, you can see only the Baron’s memorial.

The former bridge to the Island of the Dead. There are only the beginning and the end, but no bridge itself.

The Island of Deads. Park Monrepo. Viborg, Russia.

It is shallow here. You can see footprints in the muddy bottom. It looks as if it can be crossed on foot. Why don’t we roll up our jeans and go? It’s 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

42 thoughts on “Russian Castles: Vyborg

  1. You look so happy in that Russian medieval armor. It was kind of the curator, and makes for a great picture.
    I think I need to take a quick look at the Battle on the Ice sequence from the film Alexander Nevsky.
    I visited and lived in Russia more than twenty years ago, so your pictures of St Petersburg and the monasteries bring back happy memories. Unfortunately we didn’t get to see Vyborg or that much outside St P.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I only wish that more places would let serious tourists (interested and knowledgeable) try on medieval costumes or armor.

        Perhaps not all the time, but on special occasions.

        I’m currently reading your blogs about Croatia. The photography is amazing but I particularly enjoy your commentary.

        No need to reply to this message! Best wishes.


      2. I only wish that more places would let serious tourists (interested and knowledgeable) try on medieval costumes or armor.

        Perhaps not all the time, but on special occasions.

        I’m currently reading your blogs about Croatia. The photography is amazing but I particularly enjoy your commentary.

        No need to reply to this message! Best wishes.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi! I love your blog. This post however is full of misleading information. I’m sure you are Russian and have learnt these things at school. Like my Russian relatives. They even believed that Finland started the Winter war, when all the world knows it was the Soviet Union. Vyborg and the Carelian Isthmus were occupied by the Soviets after WW II. Before that, they belonged to Finland. It was a great loss to our country. It is saddening to see the neglected state of the area and especially Vyborg when travelling there. You even mention Fascist bombings in Viborg. No, Fascists didn’t bomb Vyborg. It was the Soviets.

    My husband is Russian and we are very interested in Russian history and know a couple of renowned Russian archeologists. I know that the Soviets didn’t want to tell the people the thruth about Russian history.

    Vyborg castle was not built on Russian territory. It was a part of Finland, and belonged to Sweden. I I can’t blame you for not knowing such facts.I know that the common Russian who is not interested in history still believes the Soviet lies that can be read even in the newest school books.

    I really appreciate your blog with the interesting diaries and beautiful pictures. Thank you. Keep travelling!


    1. Milla. Thank you very much for the corrections.

      You are right :

      – The Vyborg Castle (Finnish: Viipurin linna, Swedish: Viborgs fästning) is a Swedish built medieval fortress around which the town of Viborg evolved.

      – I have removed the word “fascist.”

      You know, if it would be in my power, I would return the city to your country you could restore it.


  3. I am another granddaughter of Finnish emigrants from Vyborg. I have a wooden box that my grandmother carried with her to the US in the early 1900’s with the Vyborg castle on it. I love your travel journal and photographs. Thank you!


  4. viborg is in denmark vyborg is in russia but viborg is a very nice town where the old part of the town is nice made all there live there is duing a lot so ist like old days ist a town i will say visiit the town and feel the town and this people you will feel you welcome from first minute and the prise for living here is not expensiv you can live on the most wonderfull camping place just down to one of the lakes and you can swiming in the lake ore the other lake just a litle way from the campng there is a home for turist that kost a litle money abow 75 kr pr day then you have to pay for eating too but you can eat on resturant on til 17 a clock for half the price and the food is just as good so visit viborg and enjoy some days here you will be welcome every time you like to come


  5. Great post. This summer we visited at Uusikirkko, Terijoki, when searching my wife’s roots. At same time in Vyborg and in Kronstadt. My posts in three parts are published in November starting Friday the 9th. For us Finns it is sad to see how Vyborg has been ruined after WW2 and generally speaking “old Finnish” Karelia.


  6. Wow. Wonderful job with Vyborg. The photos are fantastic. I have only seen very standard photos of Viborg Castle so I have seen much more today along with Monrepo Park which I didn’t know. It’s all fantastic. Perhaps I can one day put some of your photos of the castle on my official web site. Future? Thank you so much for doing this marvelous article !


    1. Thank you, Evelyn. Your site and blog about castles are very handsome and interesting. It will be a honor for me if you will reblog some posts or use my photos for them. Soon, I’ll publish posts about Carcassonne, Chatehau de Pierrefonds, and the Peyrepertuse castle in France, and Parador de Cardona in Spain. You will like them.


  7. bellissime immagini Victor!
    I never was there… sometime we european have the bad habit to go far away to search beautiful places to visit (I meen overseas). Thank’s a lot for the great pics, I love specially the last 8 photos with landscape…
    good night


  8. My grandfather was born in Sakkijarvi, which was then a Finnish town near Viipuri, now Vyborg. I would love to visit the area one day. Thank you for the photos. I wonder if Sakkijarvi is still there. Perhaps you will go there one day and take some photos for me.


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