The Russian Fort

1809-1917

Finland became an integrated part of Russia in 1809. The fort of Hanko continued as a Russian garrison, occasionally called the city of Hanko peninsula– “Gangutskij Gorod”. Life continued in Hanko, sometimes more lively– sometimes slower. Elder soldiers were in particular situated in Hanko, many of who married local girls. Many of the fort’s artisans that had served the Swedes also moved to the service of the Russians.

During the Crimean War of 1853-1856, the fort of Hanko again showed its battle capability, when English ships made artillery rushes towards it. Nonetheless, the Russians doubted the possibility to defend Hanko and demolished the Hanko fort themselves on the end of August 1854. The demolition of the fort’s equipment — using the fort’s own cannon powder– was an exceptional event for the entire region; especially as it had been announced that people could retrieve everything from the forts that came loose. The beaches of Hankoniemi were filled with an audience that followed the exploding of the fort.

 

dykare-och-kanoner

Diver exploring an old gun in the sea outside Gustavsvärn.

 

The following year, English ships could use the Hanko road stead as they will, but the former fort city still posited Russian troops led by general Moller. The English got to experience this during the summer of 1855 when they sent boats to the former fort’s harbour to destroy an optic telegraph station. The boats were expected by a Russian Cossack unit, which destroyed the English boats almost entirely. This event, which the English named the massacre of Hanko, got
plenty of attention in the English press. To retaliate, the English used their ship artillery to bomb the fort equipment and buildings of the Hanko mainland. The entire “fort city” burned down to the ground. It is these ruins on top of which the port and city of Hanko were then built in the early 1870s.

In the Crimean War during the summer of 1855, the English allowed to chop down the forest of Tulliniemi in its narrowest spot. The aim was to monitor from the ships on the roadstead that the Russians cannot advance along Tulliniemi and bring cannons to Skansholmen to threaten the ships. This chopped area received the name the English Line, and seafarers employed it also later on when arriving to the port of Hanko.

 

En segelbåt i Hangöhamn

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