Kustaanmiekka is the heavily fortified southernmost part of the historic island fortress complex of Suomenlinna, though it was originally a separate island. Its main attractions include the famous King’s Gate. Today the name Kustaanmiekka is also often used to describe the narrow channel of water, just 81 metres wide, between Suomenlinna and Vallisaari. Large passenger ships entering or leaving from Helsinki’s South Harbour have to carefully pass through this narrow strait, making quite a sight.
The high ramparts of Kustaanmiekka, once described as “The Gibraltar of the North”, offer fine views over the sea and the islands. The fortress was originally called Sveaborg (Sweden’s Castle) in Swedish – or Viapori in Finnish. But soon after Finland gained independence a century ago President Svinhufvud raised the new country’s flag here in May 1918, and renamed the island fortress Suomenlinna (Finland’s Castle).