Per Brahe founded a town by the name of Weckelax Nystad in the area of the former Vehkalahti in 1653. At that time, the town was awarded the rights to be engaged in foreign trade. When the town was destroyed in the Great Northern War, it was rebuilt in the 1720s and was given a circular town plan and the name Fredrikshamn after Frederick I, the King of Sweden. The name soon gained the form Hamina in Finnish. Sweden started to fortify its eastern border against Russia, whereby Hamina became a fortress town.
The fortress of Hamina was built under the Swedish General Axel von Löwen in the 1720s. The fortress and the town plan were based on an Italian star-shaped Renaissance fortress from the 16th century. The Swedes built the fortification just as sand bulwarks. The Russians continued the fortification work in the 1740s, when the era of Old Finland began in Hamina under Russian rule.
The star-shaped bastion fortress encloses the old circular town centre, with the eight radial streets starting from the Town Hall Square. The radial streets have two circular cross streets, Isoympyräkatu and Pikkuympyräkatu, which follow the shape of the fortress. Pikkuympyräkatu is a full circle about 900 metres long.
The circular town, which is rare on a global scale, with its ramparts and extraordinary town plan is well preserved despite many large-scale fires which raged in the 19th century. The military traditions of Hamina have lived on, first in the Imperial Cadet School of Finland in the 19th century and later in the Reserve Officer School in the 20th century.
The event arena Hamina Bastion was built in the Central Bastion of the fortress in 1998. In the summer, the Bastion is covered by the largest dismountable canopy in Europe. The stands can accommodate thousands of visitors. The 58 casemate vaults bordering the Bastion area have been renovated and equipped with modern technology.
Before the independence of Finland, various wars and peace treaties between Sweden and Russia have affected the past of Hamina and the fortress.
Great Northern War, Greater Wrath (occupation period 1713-1721), Treaty of Nystad 1721
Hats’ War, Lesser Wrath, Treaty of Åbo 1743
Finnish War, Treaty of Hamina 1809