Welcome to Lappeenranta
On the banks of Lake Saimaa – Finland’s largest lake – Lappeenranta has encountered dramatic swings of fortune. Once famous for its scarlet-clad garrison, the 17th-century ‘Cavalry City’ was a humming trade port at the edge of the Swedish empire. In 1743 it came under Russian control, where it remained for the next 68 years, becoming an exclusive spa town. Much of the town was destroyed during the Winter and Continuation Wars, but its massive fortress and spa endure.
Russia still owns half of the 43km Saimaa Canal, which links Lappeenranta to the Gulf of Finland. It’s currently ‘leased’ to Finland until 2063 – popular day trips run through its eight locks and across the Russian border.