Swedish crusaders began construction on Hämeen Linna in the 13th century to strengthen and defend the Swedish position in the region. What began as a fortified camp evolved over the centuries into a large castle of stone and brick. In modern times, the castle, one of Finland's oldest, has served as a granary and a prison, and it is now restored and open to the public for tours and exhibitions. The castle sits on the lakeshore, 1 km (½ mi) north of Hämeenlinna's town center. Tours in English take place every hour in the summer and are available every hour in winter by appointment only.