Vyborg has had a tumultuous past. A Swedish castle stands on what is historically Finnish land in an area geographically Russian. Vyborg, Viipuri, Viborg, or Wiburg—this town that has been different things to different peoples is a unique sidetrack for travelers to the St. Petersburg region of Russia.
A two-hour electrika ride or a 3-hour train ride will take you to the historic town, located north-west of St. Petersburg on the Gulf of Finland. Its proximity to the Finnish border has facilitated its shift from traditional Finnish territory to a Soviet one. Today it remains a Russian town, the Finnish nationals having been evacuated during the Soviet-Finnish War.
Vyborg is contained in a small enough area for visitors to see all the sights on foot. Market Square is a great place to find souvenirs, from old soviet memorabilia to folk crafts. There are two cathedrals, the Clock Tower from the seventeenth century, and what remains of medieval fortifications. Also of interest is the Alvar Aalto Library, a remarkable piece of architecture from the famous Finnish architect.
Go north-west on the main street, Krepostnaya ulitsa, and you’ll reach the Castle Bridge, which will take you to the island where stands Vyborg Castle. There you can explore the Underwater Archeology museum and take panoramic photographs from the castle tower. The castle fortifications have been standing since 1293, when the Swedes captured the trading port in Vyborg, so take a look around the island grounds.
Other Historic Fortifications:
Annenkorn, or the Anna Fortress, is from the 18th century and is located in a peninsula west of Vyborg Castle. Ravelins and gates still stand from when such fortifications were still needed. Also remaining for the history buff are Battery Hill and the Shield of Lakes or Panzerlaks. For the most part, these have been left at the mercy of the elements and are in varying states of disrepair.
MonRepos, meaning “my rest” in French, was once owned by Barons of the region. The park contains small architectural novelties, such as the “Temple of Neptune,” a pavilion in the Classical style. One corner of the park contains Chinese-style footbridges. Once carefully maintained, MonRepos shows the wear of time like other areas of Vyborg.
One of the biggest draws to Vyborg in August is the Window to Europe Film Festival. Every June the Knights’ Tournament is celebrated, and in July the International Yacht Regatta is held in the Gulf of Vyborg.