In the very heart of the Baltic Sea are the Aland Islands and more specifically, the beautiful port of Mariehamn. As the capital for 6500 islands, this city is small and ideal for walking and shopping. In fact, you can walk from the western to eastern harbor in only 15 minutes. Mariehamn has certainly earned its title of the world’s smallest capital but don’t let the title fool you. The city is overflowing with sights and activities.
This beautiful, walkable city offers an unforgettable experience for everyone. Famous Aland handicrafts such as glassware, ceramics, wrought iron and textiles are sold around town by local merchants. At the port, there is a musical welcoming to greet cruise guests when they disembark to get them in the spirit of being in Mariehamn.
With lots of history in such a small place, there is no shortage of museums. The Aland Maritime Museum is newly upgraded and world renowned. This museum follows the maritime history of the Aland islands through a series of exhibits on ship owners, deep-sea sailors, and the round-offs at Cape Horn. The Museum Ship Pommern offers a fascinating look at the ships of old. The Pommern is the only four-masted barque ship still in its original condition. Visitors can spend time on the ship, exploring the full restoration or the collection of historical maritime artifacts.
While the Aland islands are peaceful now, several structures from its fighting past are still standing. The Russian Fortress Ruins of Bomarsund host what is left of a major fortress built in 1834. Its life was short-lived, having been overthrown in 1854. It is a relic from the Crimean War and visitors can explore the vast landscape on which it was located, while looking at what is left of the original fortress architecture. On the other end sits the Castle of Kastelholm. This castle was originally built in the 1300 and is still standing despite having seen sieges and piracy during its heyday. Today, visitors can spend time on historical exhibits within the castle or exploring the grassy land that surrounds it.
Image credit: visitaland.com