From an Ancient Castle into a Flagship of Tourism
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ennen_pieni.jpg Aulanko has long traditions. Prehistoric discoveries tell us there has been an ancient castle on Aulanko Hill in pagan times. The old tribe castle will have been destroyed around 1250; this led to the long-drawn-out construction of Häme Castle, which to this day watches over the Vanaja waters.

Aulanko, the past in a nutshell

  • The times under Hugo (Colonel Hugo Stardertskjöld 1844-1931). The colonel built himself a piece of paradise, the English style park in Aulanko 1883-1910. The familiar sights originate from this time: Aulanko Lookout Tower, the Bear Cave, the Swan Lake and the Forest Lake, the pavilion of the Rose Valley, the granite castle of Aulanko and the 56 species of trees and bushes by the path around the Swan Lake.
  • The “Helsinki gentlemen’s” holiday paradise. In 1938 the second golf course of Finland was ready in Aulanko. The course is connected to the Rantasipi Aulanko of today.
  • A national pioneer of travels. Thanks to Aulanko, the national travel industry took off and international customers found their way to Aulanko.
  • Aulanko and Finnish films. A number of movies have been recorded in Aulanko.

The Time of Hugo Standertskjöld

A resplendent time for Aulanko began when Colonel Hugo Standertskjöld (1844-1931) bought the then Karlberg Estate and the grounds around it. Standertskjöld, who had made his wealth as an arms manufacturer in Russia, planned an integral manor and park system for Aulanko, without a peer in Finland. Aulanko's fame spread wide and far - admirers of the park arrived from as far as the South of Europe.

The main building of Karlberg Manor was rebuilt, influenced by French Baroque. Flowers, palms and cacti were planted in the park; fountains and greenhouses were erected; the shore of Vanajavesi was reconditioned and lined with silver willows over a stretch of a good three kilometres.

Hugo Standertskjöld had new driveways, wide walks and paths made on Aulanko Hill. The woods were thinned; men dug rocks out of the rugged terrain with the strength of their bare arms; roughly a hundred cubic metres of soil was dredged for two ponds called Forest Lake and Swan Lake. They became home to water birds such as rare black swans. The park was dotted with pavilions; a granite castle and a bear cave were also created. A lookout tower was constructed in 1906.


Manor life

The colonel was an active and unprejudiced man, interested in everything that was progressive and new. In Hugo's time, Aulanko became home to the first zoo, fish farm and private elementary school in Finland. Naturally, the colonel's car was also the first Rolls-Royce in Finland. Hugo took care of his workfolk by having the school mentioned built for the children of his tenants. Karlberg Manor also had an electricity works of its own on the bank of Vanajavesi.

The Aulanko area has always been open to everyone. Hugo Standertskjöld was also a generous host. Every summer Karlberg received crowds of visitors, who were treated and entertained with unprecedented hospitality.


Hugo's Time Closing

Advanced in years, Hugo pondered on the destiny of Karlberg Manor, first offering the estate to the State of Finland. Eventually, Karlberg was bought by the town of Hämeenlinna in 1926. One of the terms of the transaction read that the area be kept open to the populace. In the 1930s, the manor was taken over by the Finnish Tourist Association. Unfortunately, the splendid manor house of the Karlberg estate was destroyed by fire in January, 1928.

After the fire, however, a new, temporary restaurant building was soon erected on the site of the burnt manor house. The present Aulanko Hotel, designed by Märta Blomstedt and Matti Lampen in Art Nouveau, was finished in 1938. The 1930s meant a great upswing for Finnish tourism, and Aulanko became one of its flagships. During the Second World War, the Aulanko Hotel temporarily served as a war hospital.


Aulanko and Finnish Films

In the course of its history, Aulanko has attracted dignitaries, from heads of states to Alfred Hitchcock, the famous film director. The beauty of Aulanko also inspired Jean Sibelius as a young composer. A number of Finnish film classics were shot at Aulanko.