The Prästö Tower was the first in a series of 12 external defensive fortifications of the much larger Bomarsund Fortress. Even though the fortress and its towers were never complete, you can visit this historical sight even today. According to the plan, the tower would also have included residential space alongside the many canons. The Swedish name for the tower is “Prästötornet”, as it is on the island of Prästö.
Even though there is today not much left of the Prästö Tower, the hill offers a great view out over the water. During a sunny day, it is possible to see both the main fortress of Bomarsund as well as the Tower of Notviken directly across the strait.
The construction of the impressive Bomarsund Fortress started in 1832. At the time, Åland was a part of the Russian Empire and was the empire’s westernmost outpost. The main fortress was planned to be formed as a half-circle measuring 290 meters in diameter. The plan was to have 12 external towers. In total it was going to house 2.500 soldiers and personnel.
The fortress was only partially completed before it saw action in the Crimean Wars. When the British fleet arrived from the south in 1854, only the three northern towers were completed. Around 2.000 soldiers and 40 canons guarded the fortress. 12.000 French soldiers surrounded the fortress while 80 British and French ships attacked from the waterside. The fortress surrendered within a few days and it was demolished soon afterward.
The Prästö Tower was one of only three completed external towers of the Fortress of Bomarsund. Once completed, it reached a height of 12 meters and it was 142 meters wide. Only 140 men guarded it at the time of the Battle of Bomarsund only guarded by 140 men.
Prästö Tower had the same fate as the main fortress and it was demolished with the help of six tons of explosives. Today there is not much left of the ruin. The site was for a long time used as a source for stone and building material. This has resulted in that there’s not much more than a grass-covered hill still standing today
Finding Prästö Tower
Prästö Tower is on the island of Prästö. The island is reachable by taking road 2 north from Mariehamn and crossing the bridge at Bomarsund. Soon after the bridge, there is a sign mentioning “Prästötornet” and a small gravel road on the left. You will not be able to drive all the way as there is a small marina at the end of the road. You need to park your car before reaching the marina. From the marina, there is just a short walk along the water to reach Prästö Tower.
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