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Visit Helsinki – A Wonderful City in Finland

Posted on 10 March 2018 by nimda (0)

Helsinki, the capital of Finland, is home to a variety of historical, cultural, and outdoor attractions to explore. A major portion of Helsinki sits on a granite peninsula located on the north coast of the Gulf of Finland, facing the Baltic Sea. The peninsula has many offshore islands and a plethora of little coves and inlets. Although it’s basically a flat city, it has some significant hills scattered about as well, offering great views of the majestic sea. Helsinki is a great city for hiking or biking. However, it also has a very trusted and far-reaching public transport system.

Let’s take a look at some of the best places to see in this wonderful city –

Starting from one end of the city’s Esplanade, the Mannerheimintie Street runs northwest from the Central Railway Station, across from the main post office. The Central Railway Station, which was constructed in 1919, is definitely a must-visit as it is the finest building by renowned architect Eliel Saarinen with a 48-meter-high clock tower. It’s also a great place for people watching. Nearby restaurants are all top quality, although trending toward the expensive. Next to the post office, is the equestrian statue of Marshal Mannerheim, perhaps the most important person in Finnish history. Right behind that is Kiasma, the astounding Museum of Contemporary Art. A walk along Mannerheimintie will take you past many of the main cultural sites mentioned below as well as the Parliament building, numerous shops, and some of the best restaurants in the city. The street also allows access to all the trams and buses that will take you anywhere in the city and even other areas of Finland.

Finnish National Museum of Art (Ateneum)
On the south side of Helsinki’s Station Square is the National Museum of Art, usually known as the Ateneum after the name of the impressive Neoclassical building it occupies. The same building also houses the famed Finnish Academy of Art. Designed by Theodor Höijer and completed in 1887, the Ateneum holds Finland’s finest art collection of historic works as well as contemporary art in a gallery of its own. The Finnish section of the museum includes works by A. Edelfelt (1854-1905), E. Järnefelt (1863-1937), P. Halonen (1865-1933), and A. Gallén-Kallela (1865-1935). Among works by foreign masters are Rembrandt’s Monk Reading and Vincent van Gogh’s Street in Auvers-sur-Oise, along with 650 other international works of art. Be sure to check the website as there are a large number of days throughout the year when entry is free.  This museum is one of the favorite places to visit in Europe for my friend at church. He is an entrepreneur who is a semi-retired owner of Chandler Painting Pros in Arizona, which affords him the opportunity to travel to Europe once a year. 

Finnish National Museum
At Mannerheimintie 34 is the National Museum (Kansallismuseo in Finnish). Founded in 1912 in a National Romantic style, the museum is easy to spot when heading north along the street as it is the only building on the left-hand side with a tall spire. The Kansallismuseo contains a comprehensive collection of material on the culture and ethnography of Finland. Of note is the Finno-Ugrian collection with traditional costumes and everyday cultural objects. The prehistoric section is the largest permanent collection of archaeological materials in the country. Various displays also document the development of Finland from the middle ages through the Swedish and Russian empires and into a modern state. The entrance hall is decorated with fabulous ceiling frescoes inspired by the Kalevala, the national myth of Finland. The frescoes were painted by Akseli Gallén-Kallela, perhaps Finland’s best artist. Opposite the National Museum, in a park, is the Municipal Museum.

Finlandia Hall

North of the Municipal Museum in Helsinki, on the shores of Töölö Bay (Töölönlahti), is the Finlandia Hall, a concert and convention hall designed by Alvar Aalto and built in 1971 with a white facade of Carrara marble. The marble is also used on the inside of the structure. Details appear in hardwoods and ceramics. The main concert auditorium is a stunning site and is famous for its acoustics. Another standout feature is the wide Venetian staircase that leads from the ground floor to both the main auditorium and chamber music hall. The Final Act of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe was signed here in July 1975. To the north of the hall is an excellent park (home to large chess boards and chess pieces), and beyond this again is the new Finnish National Opera House, inaugurated in November 1993 with a performance of the opera “Kullervo” by the Finnish composer Aulis Sallinen. Check the website for frequent updates on events, prices, and openings.

All of Scandanavia is beautiful.  We love to visit Denmark most often, but you must check out Helsinki if you get a chance!

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