The town was christened by Alexander II after the Empress Maria. Its broad tree-lined streets are indicative of its Russian heritage, and gave Mariehamn its nickname: town of a thousand linden trees.
Mariehamn’s peninsula location has given it a unique strategic importance, with the ports on either side traditionally used for ship-building and repairs. Today the ports welcome regular ferries from both Finland and Sweden, whose residents take advantage of Åland’s extra-EU status to buy duty-free goods – at least, in summer. Outside high season, you may have the place to yourself.