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What is Tavastia?

Tavastia is the Latin name for the Häme region. Today, Tavastia Proper is located in the southwestern section of the historic Tavastia province and its three largest cities are Forssa, Hämeenlinna and Riihimäki. Distances in Tavastia Proper are short and visitors can easily reach us in less than an hour from Helsinki, Turku and Tampere.

Tavastia Proper is known as the birthplace of Jean Sibelius. Häme is bisected by he medieval Häme Ox Road, along which you’ll find a large number of charming places, cafés and lodgings. Topping the list of Tavastia Proper’s unique sights are, just to name a few: the majestic Häme Castle, nostalgic Jokioinen Museum Railway and birthplace of Sibelius, the Prison Museum and Museo Militaria, Parola Tank Museum, Riihimäki Glass Museum and Hunting Museum of Finland, Forssa’s Spinning Mill and Moving Pictures Theatre, the national landscape of Aulanko and the spectacular Torronsuo and Liesjärvi National Parks.


Tavastia Proper has been inhabited since the Stone Age. The first written mention of the region is found in the Chronicle Of Novgorod, in reference to a military campaign launched by Prince Vladimir in 1042.  The region had been ruled by the Swedes since the late 13th century, when Birger Jarl led the Second Crusade against the Tavastians. In the 14th century, Tavastia became a fiefdom, whose administrative seat was Häme Castle. When Finland was taken from Sweden by the Russians in 1809, Tavastia Proper also became part of the Russian Empire. Russian rule ended in 1917.


Häme Castle is one of Finland’s medieval castles. Although the precise timeframe of the castle’s construction is not known, it was at least completed before the end of the 13th century and is linked to the Second Crusade launched by the Swedes. The first written mention of the castle is from 1308. The castle played a crucial role as the administrative seat of Tavastia in the Middle Ages. Today, the castle grounds are occupied by the Häme Castle Museum, Prison Museum and Museo Militaria.


Every year, Häme Castle hosts numerous exhibitions and theme events. The most well-known of these are the Vanaja Tournament, Musketeer Day, and Häme Medieval Festival. Come experience living history!


1042 – First written mention of Tavastia in the Chronicle of Novgorod
1308 – First written mention of Häme Castle
175,500 – Population of Tavastia Proper
507 km2 – Area covered by water
Birthplace of Jean Sibelius
Official species: Lynx, Pike-perch, Osprey and Lake Vanajavesi