A 10-minute stroll from the quay to the southeast brings you to Savonlinna's most famous site, the castle Olavinlinna. First built in 1475 to protect Finland's eastern border, the castle retains its medieval character and is one of Scandinavia's best-preserved historic monuments. Still surrounded by water that once bolstered its defensive strength, the fortress rises majestically out of the lake.
Every July the Savonlinna Opera Festival is held in the castle's courtyard, which creates a spellbinding combination of music and surroundings. The festival is a showcase for Finnish opera but it also hosts foreign companies such as the Los Angeles Opera and the Royal Opera. You will need to make reservations well in advance for both tickets and hotel rooms (note higher hotel rates during the festival), as Savonlinna draws many music lovers. The festival also includes arts and crafts exhibits around town. Olavinkatu 27, 57130. 015/476–750. www.operafestival.fi.
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