The Kankaanpäänmäki fortifications are part of a chain of defences extending from the capital to Virrat and on through Ähtäri to Kuopio and Nurmes. The fortifications were built or commissioned by the Russian Army during the First World War (1914–1918) to defend Helsinki and St. Petersburg from German attack from the Gulf of Bothnia. The fortifications never saw action during the First World War, although part of them was used during the 1918 Civil War.

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