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The greatest fortress of the Swedish empire was founded in 1748 to protect the eastern part of the empire against Russian attack. It was named Sveaborg (Swedish fortress).

Sveaborg was once the second largest town in Finland, after Turku. In 1806 it had 4600 residents whereas Helsinki had 4200.

After a prolonged attack, Sveaborg was surrendered to the Russians after the war of 1808, and renamed Viapori. Thanks in large part to the superb sea fortress, the Finnish capital was moved from Turku to Helsinki in 1812. It remained Russian until Finland gained independence in 1917, and continues to have military significance as it's still home to a naval base. During the Finnish Civil War, the Whites incarcerated many Communist prisoners here in brutal conditions. The present name was chosen in 1918, after Finland's independence.