Way up north
Helsinki is the capital and largest city of Finland. It is in the region of Uusimaa, located in southern Finland, on the shore of the Gulf of Finland, an arm of the Baltic Sea. Helsinki has a population of 600,000 and an urban population of 1.2 million and a metropolitan population of 1.4 million, making it the most populous municipality and urban area in Finland. Helsinki is located some 80 kilometres north of Tallinn, Estonia, 400 kilometres east north east of Stockholm, Sweden, and 300 kilometres west of Saint Petersburg, Russia. Helsinki has close historical connections with these three cities.
The Helsinki metropolitan area includes urban core of Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa, Kauniainen and surrounding commuter towns. It is the world's northernmost metro area of over one million people, and the city is the northernmost capital of an EU member state. After Copenhagen and Stockholm it's the third largest city in the Nordic nations. Finland is the first country we have visited that uses euros.
Helsinki is Finland's major political, educational, financial, cultural and research centre as well as one of northern Europe's major cities. Approximately 70% of foreign companies operating in Finland have settled in the Helsinki region. The nearby municipality of Vantaa is the location of Helsinki Airport, with frequent service to various destinations in Europe and Asia.
We joined two tours of the Helsinki area today. Our hotel was out in the suburbs so we spent most of the day around the city centre and then a drive out to Espoo out in the country.
We docked in Helsinki around 10.00am this morning, Wednesday 27th August. We were up early enough to see a few of the 10 000 Islands in the gulf around Helsinki. Finland has 200 000 lakes so many Finns have a lakeside retreat with their own plot of forest. Boating is very popular but the boats need to be stored for 6 months of the year as the Baltic freezes over. Five ice breakers keep the shipping lanes open all year.
The statue in this square is of Tsar Alexandr who was shot dead on the fifth attempt on his life. The large building in the background is known as The Cathedral (formerly Nicolay Cathedral under Russian rule).
We visited Finnish country residents built by some international award winning Finnish architects between 1901 and 1903. It is called Hvittrask. It was quite ground breaking with a modern bathroom and all fittings and furniture designed by the architects.
We joined two tours of the Helsinki area today. our hotel was out in the suburbs so we spent most of the day around the city centre and then a drive out to Espoo out in the country.
This is the Parliament of Finland. 200 representatives of which nearly half are women. The president is also elected for a six year term for a total of two terms. The former President was female.
We saw the stadium built in 1938 for the 1940 Olympics which were cancelled due to World War 11. The Olympics were held here in 1952.
Finland has two national languages, Finnish and Swedish, so all street signs etc are in both languages. Both languages have absolutely nothing in common. Finnish is similar in many ways to Hungarian and both languages have no connection at all with any other languages. Finland was under Swedish rule for 600 years and then was ceded to Russia after a war that ended in 1809 until it proclaimed independence in 1917 after the Russian Revolution.
One of the heroes of Finland is the composer, Charles Sibelius who composed Finlandia in 1906. it was banned as a subversive piece until after 1917. Sibelius Park has a sculpture made of 600 stainless steel pipes welded together to represent the forest so loved by Sibelius as he lived in a small house with a large family so ventured into the forest each day to compose his works in a peaceful setting. The sculpture is of Sibelius as a young man.
This afternoon we visited the Rock Church also know as the Temple Square Church as it is built into solid rock.
Lastly, here is a view looking from the Marina out to the shipping passage into Helsinki. Near here is an art exhibition. This sculpture is called Bad Boy.
On Thursday 28 th August we headed east after a very early start for the next stage of our adventure. We have booked to see Swan Lake Ballet at a very famous theatre.