Linnoituksesta historialliseksi muistomerkiksi : Viipurin vanhakaupunki 1856-1939

Translated title of the contribution: From Fortress to Historic Monument : Viipuri's Old Town 1856-1939

Petri Neuvonen

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisMonograph


The study examines the physical and cultural transformation of Viipuri’s Old Town from 1856 to 1939. It encompasses eight decades of the architectural history of the area. At the same time the study examines cultural change which was manifested in the attitudes of local inhabitants towards fortification walls, buildings, streetscapes and townscape of the Old Town. The primary sources are the documents and drawings of the local civilian administration as well as local newspapers. Viipuri (Vyborg), now part of the Russian federation, was before the Second World War the second city of Finland. In 1860 Russian military authorities ceded the main part of the walls surrounding the centre of the town to local civilian authorities. Military considerations gave way to the demands of commerce and industry. The centuries-old walls were demolished and local newspapers hailed this as a sign of progress. At the end of the 1880s the preindustrial townscape was broken as large new stone buildings began to replace older townhouses. The local bourgeois newspapers were satisfied with the development but in the local worker’s newspaper, which was operating in the margins of power and wealth, the development was met with less enthusiasm. The interest in the history and ancient monuments of the Old Town gained momentum in the 1880s and 1890s. In the next decade the interest of conservationists was expanded to include historical streetscapes and the entire townscape. The enthusiasm shown by locals to protect ancient monuments must not be exaggerated. The Round Tower, the Council Tower and the bastion of Pantsarlahti only narrowly escaped demolition. The last part of the walls, the South Wall, was demolished in 1913. In the 1920s and 1930s the protection of historic buildings, streetscapes and the entire townscape took official forms. The Old Town became the pride of the town and it was eagerly shown to both domestic and foreign tourists. At the same time it was integrated into the local identity of bourgeois Viipuri. The rhetoric based on the idea of Viipuri as the outpost of Western Culture against the East was mixed with images of the romantic Old Town. The Round Tower, which was converted into a historic restaurant in 1923, became the most popular tourist attraction of the Old Town. The transformation of the entire Old Town into an officially recognised historic monument was all but sealed. The preparations to receive the legal status of an Old Town before the Second World War were never concluded.
Translated title of the contributionFrom Fortress to Historic Monument : Viipuri's Old Town 1856-1939
Original languageFinnish
QualificationDoctor's degree
Awarding Institution
  • Aalto University
  • Niskanen, Aino, Supervising Professor
Print ISBNs978-952-60-7591-4
Electronic ISBNs978-952-60-7590-7
Publication statusPublished - 2017
MoE publication typeG4 Doctoral dissertation (monograph)


  • Viipuri
  • Vyborg
  • Old Town
  • architecture
  • history
  • building conservation
  • urban conservation
  • built heritage
  • historic monument
  • ancient monument
  • townscape
  • tourism


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