Monday, 25 April 2016

Heavy Metal Hämeenlinna

It isn’t often that anything particularly interesting happens in this little town. Therefore, it was with great excitement and enthusiasm that our family greeted the news about the new exhibition in Häme Castle, the intriguingly titled “Heavy Metal”, which features arms and armour from the 16th-18th centuries. Since the 17th century happens to figure very strongly in our interests right now, my DH and I couldn’t wait to get to see this.

What’s more, a friend, who, as a historian, is involved in the project, thoughtfully extended us invitations to the opening ceremony. Very exciting! So, we secured a babysitter and made our way to the castle one lovely spring evening. There were several speeches, beautiful clavichord music... and then we got the chance to admire the exhibition among the very first guests. The exhibition pieces come from the collection of Universalmuseum Joanneum in Graz, Austria, and though they’ve toured the world in many popular exhibitions, this is the first time they’re on display in Northern Europe.

There were suits of armour – even a huge one for a horse; very few of those have survived, so this is something special – helmets, swords, polearms, muskets, pistols... all with breath-takingly beautiful detail.


The exhibition is gorgeously arranged, the ancient castle is a perfect setting for it, and the background music... the background music is battle metal from one of my very favourite bands, Turisas! It just really doesn't get better than that.

We returned to the castle only two days later with our seven-year-old daughter, who also loves museums and castles. Our little troop received reinforcements in the form of my sister-in-law, Mina, and together we had a great time. This was the opening weekend of the exhibition, so the visitors were treated to a special programme. There were some merchants and blacksmiths, and, the absolute highlight, a Medieval jousting tournament by the valiant knights of Rohan Stables! We’ve had the honour of seeing them display their skills on Medieval Fairs, but it’s always a pleasure, so we secured front row seats about 40 minutes before the show started. It was cold, but we huddled together for warmth, and it was worth it: we had a great view, and there’s just something about those thundering hooves, splintering lances and courageous knights...

After that, however, we were shivering with cold and needed cups of hot chocolate in the castle café before we could continue to the exhibition. We spent perhaps even more time there now, since my daughter was intrigued by pretty much all the exhibition pieces and, as usual, wanted to see everything. She was thrilled to recognise her favourite song by Turisas (yes, she’s a fan, too), and her other favourites were the life-size horse replicas and the pikemen formation, which is very impressive indeed with the dramatic music and the lightshow.

There were also activities specially for children: they could colour pictures of musketeers etc. and try on breastplates, helmets and medieval dresses.

If you live in or near Hämeenlinna, make sure you won’t miss the chance to see this excellent exhibition. And even if you don’t live near here, I’d heartily recommend visiting the castle anyway (well, it is a castle! They're fascinating!) and experiencing “Heavy Metal”. We're already planning our next visit...


  1. That sounds absolutely amazing, thanks for sharing.
    Great photos, too. And Häme Castle is such a pefect setting...
    Now if only it weren't so far... and say, just totally hypothetically, how long is the exhibition on for? :)
    Best wishes,

    1. Thank you, Kathy! :)

      Well, the exhibition is open till October (or so I understand), so there's time... ;) And if Finland is too far away and you're really into this sort of thing, the museum where the exhibition pieces come from would certainly be worth a visit. Well, I haven't actually visited it, but this exhibition features only a tiny fraction of what they have in their collection! We talked to some of the people who work at the castle, and they were pretty much green with envy at the thought. :D We might have to see that place one day...