In paid collaboration with Visit Raseborg
Article & photos by Johanna Suomela @maisemaonnellinen
A short drive from Helsinki, Raseborg is an oasis for the history-fanatic cultural tourist. Travelling to the easternmost village of Raseborg, Mustio, is like teleporting yourself to another reality. Gustav I established Finland’s first ironworks in Mustio in 1561. Today, in this hidden gem of Raseborg, you can walk through a fairytale-like park in the shade of centuries-old trees, pamper your tastebuds with delicacies at Linnankrouvi, and climb to jaw-dropping lake and forest views at the heights of Korpudden cliffs.
How did Finland’s richest man live in the 1900’s? What attracted the tsars and kings to Mustio? Who sent a massive painting of themselves as a thank-you for hiding his love child’s mother?
The 230-year-old Mustio Castle provides visitors with scenic park views and delicious food, in addition to its fascinating history and touching stories of previous residents’ fates.
Mustio Castle suits any celebratory occasion, from weddings to work events. Events here are enjoyed by couples, friends, and colleagues alike.
It’s no wonder – in its day, Mustio Castle was a central gathering place for socialites to party. And what a wonderful spot it is! Let time stand still and take in the beauty of the surrounding landscape. Enjoyment of life is at the heart of Mustio Castle on every level. This hidden treasure is located in western Uusimaa, under an hour from Helsinki and Turku.
Mustio Castle’s enchanting park is always open
When arriving to Mustio via Hållsnäsintie, it is best to slow down once the church comes into view. The church is located on the other side of the road, directly across from the old gate and avenue of noble trees that leads to Mustio Castle.
As I arrive in Mustio on a day in May, noble trees aged hundreds of years are only just budding, but small bulbs and wood anemone shimmer in the spring sun. I can only guess what the giant trees would tell us if they could speak!
The birds sing in the crowns of the trees. Among them you can hear the song of redwings and chirping of chaffinches. ‘Finland’s most common owl species’, the woodpigeon, hoots somewhere in the shelter of the canopy. Adding to the lively atmosphere is the buzzing of bumblebees under a blooming maple tree.
A persistent starling lurks patiently on the castle’s lawn, undisturbed by the hunting goddess Diana and her dog.
Mustio Castle’s park invites you for a stroll. The park’s meandering paths are best explored at a leisurely pace, listening to the sounds of nature and breathing in the fresh air while forgetting daily stresses and haste.
Mustio is made for seizing the moment and immersing yourself in your surroundings. Social media can wait, and phones should only be used for capturing memories of beautiful views.
Mustio Castle’s park offers a discovery trip to an enchanting English-style park that surprises even the more demanding guest with its elegant statues and ancient trees.
Children and adults fostering their inner child will be delighted by the open-jawed crocodile waiting patiently still, the beach path lined with antique statues, the love bridge hanging over Mustio river, the stylish gazebo, and Flying Mercury in front of Linnankrouvi.
Throughout the summer as the river warms up, water lilies also begin to pop up on the surface on the water.
Mustio Castle’s park extends to at least 22 hectares of land and continues to the wild side of the love bridge.
It is definitely worth crossing the sturdy, gleaming white bridge: waiting for you on the other side are the concert of bird song, beautiful forest, and in the spring you’ll find carpets of wood anemone along the edges of the small paths.
Mustio Castle celebrates its 230th birthday
Ironmaster Magnus Linder II built Mustio castle in the years 1783-1792; this year the castle celebrates 230 years!
Mustio Castle’s imposing yellow building is said to be Finland’s largest wooden building unaffiliated with the church. In style, the castle represents the transition period from rococo to neoclassicism, and the interior is Gustavian.
Guided museum tours are available in the castle. This time travel through history is a must!
The guide for my castle tour is Kerstin Ilander, who dominates the sovereign history of the castle. During the tour it becomes clear that Kerstin knows all the smallest details of information about the intricate history of the castle. Whatever I can think to ask – Kerstin has a ready answer. It’s no wonder that bespoke tours can be themed to focus on furniture, artwork, family history, or ghost stories and anecdotes.
The word of Kerstin’s knowledge has in fact spread far, which is why guided tours in summer months should be booked in advance to secure your place.
Mustio Castle’s history tells of great men and beautiful women. One of the castle’s most beautiful – and simultaneously least conventional – women was Aurora Karamzin’s niece, Marie Linder. Marie was said to be so beautiful that when she entered a room that the rest of the party fell silent.
Not only was Marie the most beautiful, but also the most intelligent, and she refused to conform to women’s standards of the time. Marie enjoyed her share of wine, beer, and cigarettes, and it is said that she also enjoyed the company of other men when her husband was away.
As if this wasn’t enough, Marie also caused quite a stir by riding astride and in breeches, men’s riding garments, nonetheless.
Marie’s not so happy marriage to Constantin Linder resulted in the publication of a book in 1867. You can find Finnish and Swedish versions of the work at Mustio Castle, named Qvinna af vår Tid – Aikamme nainen (woman of our time).
Unfortunately, Marie’s first book was also her last, since her colourful life was cut short. Marie Linder died at the family-owned Kytäjä estate at only 29 years old. What might she have accomplished, had she had more time to live?
Marie’s sad fate aside, her and Constantin’s son, Hjalmar Linder, grew to be Finland’s richest man. Owning a whopping 64 000 hectares of land and three factories, he also enjoyed spending money and living extravagantly.
During Hjalmar’s time in 1902, one of Finland’s first cars was acquired and imported to Mustio – along with the chauffeur and his wife. Other firsts include Finland’s first hand-blown, double-glazed windows.
Hjalmar hosted impressive parties at the castle and entertained guests lavishly. Champagne glasses clinking, many cultural personas such as Jean Sibelius and Louis Sparre were known to enjoy their time there. Sparre immortalized the castle’s scenery in oil paintings, which you’ll see during the museum tour.
Another influential beauty of the castle was Hjalmar’s stepsister Kitty Linder. Kitty was said to have been courted by marshal Mannerheim, but she eventually refused the already once divorced suitor.
During the Mustio Castle tour, attention is paid not only to portraits of the beautiful women of Mustio, but also to all of the other intricate details.
Though most of the interior décor came to the castle later, a few original gems have been preserved.
In the castle owner’s study and guestroom, the king’s room, the original parquet floor remains, made from four different types of wood.
It is said that Gustav III and tsars Alexander I and II all stayed in the king’s room.
The original hand-painted tile stoves are also still intact in the main building of Mustio Castle.
In today’s world of ever-rising construction costs, we can only imagine what such hand-crafted beauties could cost today – if you could still find such craftsmen!
Hjalmar Linder’s final fate was particularly touching. In the style of his mother Marie, he also refused to behave to the standards of his class.
Hjalmar was forced to leave all the elegance of Mustio behind him because of his good heart, as he questioned the senseless bloodshed and white atrocities of the 1918 civil war in his writing.
It is only right that the story of Mustio Castle ended well. Magnus Linder bought the castle back in 1985. The castle was by that time badly damaged and run-down. The roof leaked, and insulation was rotten through. The beautiful parquets were buried under plastic rugs.
The three-year emergency reconstruction work on the castle was a cultural endeavor, partly funded by the Finnish National Board of Antiquities.
After the death of Magnus Linder, the castle was made into a foundation where owners cannot make profits. The goal of the business is preserving the worth of the historic attraction for future generations, as Magnus Linder wished.
Every guest who uses the castle services supports Magnus Linder’s wish and the preservation of this cultural heritage site, since the funds are used for maintenance of the area and premises, restaurants and development.
Special arrangements can even be made for an evening of fine dining in the castle’s extravagant dining room.
The fun pig figure at the end of the table – a bell to ring the kitchen staff – does not see much use lately.
Mustio Castle Linnankrouvi
Though the castle dining room radiates ambience, Linnankrouvi restaurant has its own magic, located in a Gothic revival carriage house.
The sturdy brick walls, plank floors, and wrought iron chandeliers give the restaurant an elegant atmosphere.
As we were travelling in May before the start of the actual summer season, the castle was open only to groups.
Mustio Castle is a fantastic location for conferences, meetings, and parties, as the over 100-year-old event facilities provide an atmospheric setting.
A few years ago, the airy pavilion designed by architect Filip Linder was finished. A continuation of Linnankrouvi, it is now possible to host up to 200 guests here.
The hall is comfortably spacious, and the service is seamless and friendly.
We enjoyed a tasty four-course meal at the window table, marveling at the evening sunlight of early summer that lit our plates.
The food at Linnankrouvi is aesthetic, distinct, and delicious. Exactly as good food should be.
Get a good night’s rest in Mustio Castle’s hotel room
Mustio Castle is not only a historic museum and refined restaurant, but also a comfortable hotel offering distinctive rooms.
Here, you can spend a night in the classic chic white Edelfelt-building next-door…
…. or on the other side of the river, a short walk from Linnankrouvi.
Merlin’s tower stands on the edge of the river, serving in a past life as an ironmaster’s two-story suite in its past life.
Merlin’s tower has a brand new terrace and will soon boast its own sauna for river swim opportunities!
There are in fact already three saunas in the area available for groups.
Orangerie saunas are located on the other side of the river, and tucked away in Linnankrouvi is a traditional lakeside log sauna. The brave who dare can also book this in winter.
In order to experience the atmosphere of Mustio Castle at leisure, you should spend at least one night here.
The evening mood of the park is magical with giant, ancient trees glistening with the evening light. During a late-night walk in the park, you can peek through the trees into the castle windows, in case you see the movements of any previous residents. The castle’s rooms are said to have seen countless guests who have long since passed.
For someone wanting to break their daily routines and celebrate life, there are also Bon Vivant experience packages for sale at the castle. These include accommodation, a four-course dinner, and a scrumptious breakfast.
Korpudden in Mustio – a stunning nature destination
When you start to crave wilder landscapes than the castle’s scenic park, you’ll find what you’re looking for around six kilometres away. Korpudden trail, maintained by the Uusimaa recreation area association, boasts striking rock cliffs. It is one of the more significant cliff areas in Uusimaa in terms of landscape and nature conservation.
Korpudden has fantastic scenery, and due to high altitude differences is considerably demanding. The dirt road leading to the starting point parking lot is not maintained in winter.
Immediately at the start next to the parking lot you’ll find an information board, woodshed, and latrine. A neat fireplace awaits a stone’s throw away.
The trail should be walked counter-clockwise, as the starting point brings you from the cliffs along Lohjanjärvi shore, rewarding the return journey with breathtaking views. Life, an ankle fracture, and countless traversed trails have taught me that the steepest, potentially slippery altitude differences should be ascended rather than descended if you have the choice.
Good shoes are necessary for this adventurous route! Especially for damp weather, it is worth investing in durable shoes.
Right after the first fireplace, the trail dives into the forest, just touching the lakefront.
The yellow paintmarks on the trees are easily distinguishable at the start, but as we go further into the woods, we have to focus a little more on finding them.
The graceful cliff rises next to the trail, so close you can touch it. In a few spots, trees fallen by the wind lean against the cliff, and walking becomes weaving.
Scented Solomon’s seals grow above my head.
An assortment of ferns peek out from crevices along the cliff.
Nature comes close, even without breaking away from the trail.
The water calls nearby, but the trail starts to rise slowly and distances me from the lake’s surface.
High above on the shelf of the cliff awaits a picnic table.
Steps ahead climb even higher up.
The trail is already fairly high, the water glistens far below the cliff.
Small blue splashes appear here and there, and they aren’t water.
As the top of the cliff approaches, the blue splashes cover the ground entirely. Viola tricolors bloom in large blue clusters!
The trail gains even more altitude, for the first time I observe the blooming of bird cherries from above the canopies.
Nearby ferns roll open for the start of summer. Below, a large maple opens its bright green leaves, next to it a common hazel.
The drop is steep, almost forming a pit in my stock. Coming here with children would require constant alertness. Dogs must in any case be kept on-leash in nature conservation areas for safety reasons.
We rise to the peak, and what a beautiful sight!
And what vegetation!
I stay by the cliff for a long time marvelling at the landscapes and flora. It was definitely worth the climb.
The actual route is short, only around one kilometre, but much more significant in its physical height. This is exactly what makes Korpudden a fantastic daytrip. You don’t need to walk many kilometres or rush onward. All of your attention can be channeled to the scenery and lush nature.
I continue down the path, lost in my own thoughts. The ground is covered, the lush forest bordering the trail. Just before the route circles back, on the downhill I come across a sheltered fireplace. This would be an ideal place for a break if the rain happened to surprise you.
Mustio also has a ski slope
On the way back to the castle, I stop by IK Trissan’s Härkävuori ski slopes. The ski centre in all its buildings looks pristine. It stuns me that the mere 1500 residents of Mustio have such a grand ski centre!
The information board states that in winter you can ski several illuminated ski tracks. At Härkävuori the skiers – and in summer, hikers – have a kota and laavu at their disposal for grilling sausages.
Endless experiences at Mustio Castle
I have visited Mustio Castle several times, but my enchantment with the place has yet to fade. If the guided tour, park scenery and delicacies at Linnankrouvi aren’t enough, sauna evenings and hiking in Korpudden are just the tip of the iceberg in glamorous experiences available at Mustio.
Mustio Castle rents out rowboats and Jopo bicycles from the hotel reception (must bring your own helmet). The reception also lends badminton rackets and petanque balls. At Mustio Castle you can go SUP boarding or paddling, or even join a champagne tasting. For passionate home cooks, the castle also offers a cooking school in its own learning kitchen! The summer boasts an abundance of other entertainment options.
According to the old Chinese saying, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”
The same applies to Mustio Castle.
If you haven’t had the chance to marvel at the castle’s elegance yet, now is a great time to start thinking about next summer!
Translation: Karolina Salin