Helsinki, the European nature capital
Did you know that Helsinki is the smallest city among all those that have hosted the Olympics and that in August the average temperature doesn’t get above 17 º C?
The capital of Finland was founded in 1550 by King Gustav I of Sweden. His aim was to compete with Tallinn for Baltic Sea trade. In 1812, after the conquest of Finland by Russia, the city was named capital of the Grand Duchy of Finland, and it remained the country’s capital after Finland’s declaration of independence in 1917.
Helsinki is a small city compared to other European capitals, which makes it very easy to visit on foot. You can also enjoy the charm and beauty of the Finnish capital using the tram or bus, for example. In addition, and thanks to its proximity to neighbouring towns, like Espoo or Vantaa, you can also enjoy the charms of these cities without realizing that you’ve left the Finnish capital.
Because it is a port city, many of Helsinki’s buildings and activities are around the harbour. In addition to its port and snow, the capital of Finland is also known for its parks. A third of the city is covered by green areas, which makes it a perfect city for sports or just lazing on the grass while enjoying the views this Nordic capital has to offer.
Visiting the city in summer and winter provides very different attractions and experiences. Throughout winter, it is covered by a white blanket that makes Helsinki look like a storybook city. You can even walk on the water around the city as it is frozen because of the intense cold. If you visit in summertime, the sun dominates the sky, enabling you to enjoy the cafés, parks and markets.
No matter which month you go in, there are things you won’t want to miss.
One must-see visit is the island fortress of Suomenlinna, a World Heritage Site since 1991 and the most impressive fortress of the entire Baltic. It’s located just 15 minutes from the city by ferry and was constructed in the eighteenth century during the Swedish empire. It’s been used by Swedes, Russians and Finns to defend the city.
Once you’ve enjoyed the impressive Suomenlinna, you can take the ferry back and drop in on Senate Square to enjoy a coffee while contemplating the fabulous architecture of the Cathedral of Helsinki, the Council Palace and the University. If you’re lucky, you can also enjoy some of the concerts or exhibitions that often take place in the square.
After visiting the buildings of Senate Square, it’s time to head over and enjoy one of the main meeting places of the inhabitants of the city, Market Square, Helsinki’s most famous market where you can shop for handmade crafts or enjoy a plate of reindeer. Not far away you’ll find the Old Market, located on the south bank where you’ll be able to enjoy Lappish specialties.
It is highly recommendable to visit any of the city’s museums or churches; however, don’t miss the Temppeliaukio Church. It’s carved into the rock and is one of Helsinki’s most visited monuments. There’s also Uspensky Cathedral the west’s most important Orthodox Cathedral and the main architectural heritage left by Russia in the city. As far as museums go, the National Museum of Finland stands out as does the open-air museum of Seurasaari, where you can see and learn how people lived in the country from the seventeenth to the twentieth century.
If you want to enjoy Helsinki’s nights, the majority of the city’s nightlife can be found in Uudenmaankatu and Eerikinkatu, but remember that everything closes by 4 am, so the sooner you’re ready to go dance the better!
Explaining everything Helsinki has to offer would occupy paragraphs and paragraphs, but what is clear is that if you enjoy nature and culture, Finland’s capital is your destination.
PS: Don’t forget to go to Lapland to visit Santa Claus before going to Helsinki, but only if you’ve been good .
Fuente Fotos: Deviantart