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Located in Europe's largest lake district, Savonlinna has around 30,000 inhabitants and was built on three islands joined together by bridges. Besides the scenic natural environment the main attraction is St. Olaf's Castle. This great looking fortress was founded in 1475 by Erik Axelsson Tott. The castle served to repel attacks from the east and to guarantee control of the Savo region for the Swedish Crown.
The medieval castle consists of a main castle with three towers and a bailey with an encircling wall reinforced by towers. The castle went through numerous phases of construction, first as a Swedish and from 1743 as a Russian border fortification. It has been among Finland's best-known tourist attractions since the latter 19th century. It houses a restaurant and festival halls.
It is also home of the annual Savonlinna Opera Festival, that takes place in July (www.operafestival.fi) and Savonlinna Ballet Festival every June (www.savonlinnaballet.net).
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