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Salpa Defence Line

Incredible Salpa Line

The 1200 km long Salpa Line is one of the strongest and best-preserved World War II defensive lines in Europe. The massive fortification along the eastern border was built between 1940-41 and 1944, and was named the Salpa of Finland by Marshal Mannerheim in the summer of 1944.

The Salpa fort, or Salpa Line, as it was also called, is still the largest single construction project in independent Finland, with a maximum of 35 000 men, 2 000 soldiers and a large number of field troops working on it at any one time.

The Salpa Line was never fought. However, by its very existence it hastened the armistice in the autumn of 1944, thus helping to ensure Finland's survival as an independent state. The concrete and stone fortifications of the Salpa Line remain largely intact to this day.

The Salpa Line was built on:

  • Approximately 730 concrete and quarried fortifications

  • Approximately 3 000 wooden field fortifications.

  • Approximately 350 km of battle and connecting trenches

  • 225 km of armoured road

  • 130 km of anti-tank dykes

  • 315 km of barbed wire

  • About 250 ball barrels

The defensive position extended from the Gulf of Finland to Savukoski and from there to the Arctic Ocean, with a field fortification, so that a unified defensive position was established across Hankoniemi and between the Gulf of Finland and Lake Saimaa, and between Lake Kivijärvi and Pielinen, with positions on the waterways. From Pielinen northwards to Petsamo, the main road routes were fortified.

For a long time, the Salpa Line was a secret military objective, the true scale of which was known to few. Today, it is a national monument of historical value, around which a diverse range of historical and nature tourism has been developed. Miehikkälä and the Salpa Line Museum are located in the centre of the most heavily fortified main station of the Salpa Line. You can explore the Salpa Line both at the Salpa Line Museum and on the Salpa hiking trail.