Finnish ski-jumping champion and bad boy, Matti Nykänen, once quipped that ‘Things are as mixed-up as the city of Hamina’. Given the strict octagonal street plan of this former fortress town, we assume he was being ironic. Hamina (Swedish: Fredrikshamn) has long been a military town, founded in 1653 as a Swedish outpost.
The town’s incomplete fortifications were begun by panicky Swedes in 1722 after Vyborg fell to Russia. Their efforts were in vain, as the Russians marched in and captured Hamina. Today there’s a modern military base in town and the whole town is on parade for the annual military tattoo. The only invasion today is by day trippers from across the Russian border, only 40km away.