For more than 100 years Eckerö Mail & Custom’s House functioned as the Russian border station to Sweden. The grand, yellow buildings in empire style still surprise travellers from the west: what are these buildings doing on these rocks? Should they not rather stand in Saint Petersburg or Helsinki?
Eckerö Mail & Custom’s House is together with the fortress of Bomarsund an important monument of the Russian era in Finland and Åland. It was built in 1828 and drawn by the architects Carl Ludvig Engel and Carlo Bassi. Surely space for mail and custom’s administration was needed, but the grand buildings are also a manifestation of wealth and power. Weirdly enough the buildings have remained intact through wars and crises.
If these walls could talk they would have a lot to tell us; of the dramatic construction phase, when amounts of tiles and over dimensional construction parts were shipped to a shore lying more or less in the wilderness, of the master builder that got fired because neither the time schedule, the budget, nor the quality did hold up, of the Russian custom’s manager and the border postmaster who lived and worked there, and of their connections with the mail rowers and other locals,
of the cholera period during the 1830s, when the buildings temporarily transformed into quarantine hospitals, of the Russian Revolution, of Germans landing in 1918. And of the second world war when the Finnish Army was quartered here in order to keep Åland safe from foreign forces.
Since 1994 Eckerö Mail & Custom’s House belongs to the autonomy of Åland and is administered by the government of Åland. In the summer the building functions as a culture house with exhibitions, café, and sale of Alandian art handicraft. If you happen to stop by when nothing is open, you can still enjoy the atmosphere. Embrace the classical architecture and the special light by the sea. Enjoy the wind between the buildings and the historical atmosphere: here Queen Kristina’s old Mail Road between Finland and Sweden passed by, where many men through the years paid with their lives in order to get the mail forward.