The Salpa Line fortifications

The Salpa Line (Salpalinja, salpa being the Finnish word for latch) is a fortification line dating from the Second World War. The fortification line’s structures can also be seen in the Lappeenranta area. You can explore the fortifications along the hiking routes on your own or join a guided tour.
After the Winter War had ended in March 1940, there was growing anxiety about defending the new borders, after the fortifications on the Karelian Isthmus had been lost. The construction of a massive defence line, along the eastern border of Finland, was initiated. Peace was made a few years later, before the battles ever advanced to the Salpa Line. This is why the bunkers remain, to this day.

Construction

Commander-in-Chief C. E. G. Mannerheim appointed Major-General E. Hanell as Chief of the fortification construction project and also put him in charge of approving the extensive fortification plan along the eastern border of Finland. The defence line was modelled after the fortifications on the Karelian Isthmus that were completed following Finland’s independence and were known as the Mannerheim Line.
For the most part, the construction of the Salpa Line took place during peace time, in 1940–1941. After the war resumed in the summer of 1941, the fortification efforts were concentrated at the front. After a major Soviet attack began, the construction and fortification of the Salpa Line was again resumed, in the summer of 1944.

    The Salpa Line’s total length is about 1,200 km.
    Up to 35,000 people were involved in its construction at the same time.
    700 steel-reinforced concrete bunkers and 3,000 wooden field fortifications.
    25 caves and around 350 km of battle and communication trenches.
    225 km of stone anti-tank lines and 130 km of ditches.

Salpa Line in Rutola

You can visit the Salpa Line sites in Rutola, along the 3.5 km Rutola Village Trail that is approximately 12 km west of Lappeenranta’s city centre. The trail is maintained by the Rutola Village Association, which provides information about the Salpa Line and the history of sawmill operations in Rutola. There are two Salpa Line bunkers along the trail. The starting point and map of the trail are at the wall of the Rutola Voluntary Fire Brigade storage, located at: Munterontie 216. You can explore the trail on your own or book a guide to take you on the whole tour or just show you the Salpa Line sights.

Salpa Line in Voisalmi

In the south of the Voisalmi Island, there are four machine gun bunkers with steel reinforced concrete, and you can enter one of them, number 5. Around and behind the bunkers, are the battle and communication trenches that were dug into the ground and rock. On the west side of Voisalmentie Road, near Bunker 5, the trenches have been reinforced with concrete and there are also three gun nests made of concrete, one of which is covered. There are very few concrete reinforced battle trenches along the Salpa Line. There is a stone anti-tank barrier to the south of the stations.

The Salpa Line in the Hostikka area in Ylämaa

Salpa Line constructions have remained in several locations around the village of Hostikka. Near Kasarintie Street, there is a bunker for an anti-tank gun and a machine-gun, a machine gun nest, a machine-gun bunker and an artillery fire direction centre bunker. The Tuomistonmäki area along Hostikantie Road has been restored as a museum area. The area hosts the B167 machine-gun bunker and the B166 lodging tunnel. The communication and battle trenches and stations in the area have been restored. There is another machine-gun bunker, the B150, in the northern part of the area.