I began my journey by sightseeing in boat and passing by Suomenlinna, a series of small interconnected islands near Helsinki that are popular with area residents because of their museums, parks and gardens. In 1748, a fortress was built on the islands and was dubbed the ‘Gibraltar of the North’. I had a tour guide for this particular trip as I was particularly interested in the history of this place . He describes Helsinki’s unique relationship to the sea .
continue past waterfront houses and old villas in this unique urban archipelago. Also pass by several other points of interest, including the icebreaker fleet docked for the summer season and Helsinki Zoo. Disembark the boat and enjoy a short visit to Market Square, where you can shop for local handicrafts, sample Finnish berries or just enjoy the friendly atmosphere.
In warm weather, the square is a popular spot with both locals and tourists. I Passed by the Presidential Palace and Uspenski Cathedral, making a photo stop in Senate Square and then continuing on to Mannerheim Street with the Parliament House, National Museum and Finlandia Hall with The Olympic Stadium and new Opera House before I arrived at the Sibelius Monument of over 600 steel pipes which honor the great Finnish composer Jean Sibelius.
The 24 metric tonnes of abstract act in honour of the famous Finnish composer, the monument was designed by Eila Hiltunen and sparked a lot of controversy when it was unveiled in 1967. The Helsinki public was a little bemused by the concept of abstract art those days. A tourist must, and worth seeing just to go stick your head into one of the 600 odd vertical metal pipes. Make some of your own music into them while you’re there and scare off the more self-respecting tourists.
It’s known as the ‘rock church’, but don’t be misled, as many a tourist has been – it’s not Finland’s answer to gospel choirs, it’s actually built into a rock. Opened in 1969, it was designed by the brothers Suomalainen (“Finnish” by name and Finnish by nature). The interior of the church is excavated from the rock and allows natural light to enter the rough, exposed rock walls of this naturally resonant acoustical space. One of the most popular architectural attractions in Helsinki, look out for the classical music concerts which are sometimes held here in the summer.
The green domes of this white-walled Evangelical Lutheran Church that towers over Senate Square (Senaatintori) in the centre of town is one of Helsinki’s best known landmarks. It was originally built to honour the Russian Tsar, Nicolas I, and was finished in the early 1850s. During Summer its primary use is to host posers on its steps. Whether it’s a graduation, wedding, student event or parade, this iconic location is often an important feature. It looks beautiful during the day, when the white walls stand out majestically against the bright blue Nordic heavens or lower against the darkened winter skies.
Amusement park in the heart of Helsinki. This is the place where Helsinkians have screamed in the haunted house as a kid, had their first dates in the legendary wooden roller coaster and eaten cotton candy in ferris wheel when retired. There’s also nice restaurant area called Kattila. Contemporary meatball bar Kuula is recommended. It’s quite expensive to go to the rides, but entrance is totally free. There’s even one ride Panoraama for free. It’s not very intense, but lifts you up to the air and shows the sight of Helsinki from high up. If you want to pay to go to one ride, choose the wooden roller coaster.
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