Finland's cities are an architectural joy to explore, packed as they are with buildings designed by such international luminaries are Carl Ludwig Engel, Alvar Aalto, Eliel & Eero Saarinen, and many others. In addition, there are 6 UNESCO World Heritage sites located in Finland, each one with its own unique charm and history.
Spanning a period of over 800 years, Finnish architecture has a notable history and has contributed to several styles internationally, especially through the works of Eero Saarinen and Alvar Aalto. Most of Finland's great achievements in architecture relate to modern architecture, most following the reconstruction after World War II primarily because the current building stock comprises less than 13% that predates 1920.
Due to its geographical position separating Sweden from Russia, Finland has been the scene of numerous battles in the many wars between those ancient powers. As a result of this, many castles and fortresses were built in Finland from the 13th century onwards. Today, there are three significant castles which have been largely restored; Turku, Häme, and Olavinlinna. There are also four impressive fortresses which have been restored, these are in Hamina, Lappeenranta, Kärnäkoski Fortress in Savitaipale, and the island fortress of Suomenlinna in the archipelago next to Helsinki.
There are a dozen cathedrals in Finland, most of which are located in the southern part of the country. Like its castles, Finland's cathedrals are among the country's most notable edifices, and attract visitors from all over the world every year.
Christianity came to Finland in the 12th century, introduced by Bishop Henry who died a martyr's death around 1150. Today, Finland has a multitude of churches, mostly Lutheran, but also Orthodox and a few Catholic, in a diverse range of styles including medieval, gothic, neo-gothic, byzantine, neo-byzantine, classical, and romantic.
Finland is dotted with Manor Houses, the vast majority of which are to be found in the southern part of the country, especially in areas which continue to be mostly Swedish speaking, although the region around Porvoo is particularly abundant with them. Many of these manors now operate as tourist attractions, or have developed into museums, with others available to visit by prior arrangement.
There are seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Finland, six of which are Cultural Heritage Sites, the other being the Natural Heritage Site of the Kvarken Archipelago.