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Weekend in Helsinki

An architectural delight

semi-overcast

Helsinki southern harbour from Suomenlinna ferry

Helsinki southern harbour from Suomenlinna ferry

As a birthday treat, I tacked a weekend stay onto a business trip to Helsinki. I was curious about the Nordic countries but hadn't yet visited so this was a great opportunity. And what a treat - a compact and visually amazing little city. Anyone who loves design must visit - and it is easily connected by ferry to other cities so I've got a self-made cruise itinerary already percolating for a future trip.

I stayed in a small hotel in a former 'castle' (really more of a townhouse with Art Nouveau castle touches) called Glo Hotel Art. Perfect location for walking - there are trams and a Metro but I never had to make use of them. But they would be useful on a longer stay to get out to the Olympic Stadium and some of the further districts. Walking meant lots of photo ops to suss out the interesting details on so many of the apartment blocks and commercial buildings.
Here's a sampling of some of the best ones I found:

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Design museum

Design museum

Street signs in Finnish and Swedish

Street signs in Finnish and Swedish

There was great shopping - both in stores like the Marimekko mothership and various high-end department stores, as well as the outdoor Market Square and indoor Market Hall near the southern harbour:

Market square at the harbour

Market square at the harbour

Market Square at the harbour

Market Square at the harbour

Market Square - ready for winter

Market Square - ready for winter

Market Hall

Market Hall

Market Hall

Market Hall

AKA the Donner Donair

AKA the Donner Donair

Also near the harbour are the two major cathedrals, highlights of the skyline in this very low built capital.

Helsinki Cathedral

Helsinki Cathedral

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Uspenski Orthodox cathedral

Uspenski Orthodox cathedral

Uspenski Cathedral

Uspenski Cathedral

Uspenski Cathedral

Uspenski Cathedral


Helsinki harbour

Helsinki harbour

Helsinki harbour

Helsinki harbour

In the afternoon, I boarded the short ferry over to Suomenlinna fortress which is now a public park spanning a number of small islands. although very peaceful with lovely vistas there are still many remnants of the former past as a military base for Sweden and Finland (as well as a brief stint as a prison for Russian communists).

Entrance to Suomenlinna fortress

Entrance to Suomenlinna fortress

Suomenlinna fortress

Suomenlinna fortress

Suomenlinna park

Suomenlinna park

Suomenlinna fortress

Suomenlinna fortress

Vesikko museum - 1933 Finnish Navy sub

Vesikko museum - 1933 Finnish Navy sub

Gulf of Finland archipelago

Gulf of Finland archipelago

On Saturday evening, tired from a long day of walking, I decided to take an evening harbour cruise which circled around through the many small islands with summer cabins and private docks.

One-cabin island

One-cabin island

Harbour cruise

Harbour cruise

Ferry to St. Petersburg

Ferry to St. Petersburg

Gulf of Finland islands

Gulf of Finland islands

There were many great buildings in such a small area - the Post office, the Parliament, the contemporary art museum, and a 'Glass Palace' with restaurants and cafes.

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Parliament

Parliament

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Kiasma contemporary art museum

Kiasma contemporary art museum

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But without a doubt my favourite building was the Central Station designed by Eliel Saarinen. After Grand Central, the most beautiful train station I've seen yet.

Helsinki train station

Helsinki train station

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Central station

Central station

Central station - restaurant

Central station - restaurant

Central station - ticket hall

Central station - ticket hall

Central station

Central station

Posted by hdparker 25.04.2012 01:25 Archived in Finland

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