Helsinki: Saturday 14th March 2009

This morning was sunny and bright. We headed down to the market square and caught the ferry to Suomenlinna Island. It is about 12 minutes away from Helsinki.

Looking back to Helsinki (and the MASSIVE Baltic Ferries in Helsinki Harbour) and arriving through the sea ice to the island

A fortress was built around the island in 1748 when Finland was ruled by the Swedish as a protective buffer against the Russian naval strength. Sadly for the Finns it didn’t repel the Ruskies and in 1808 the Finland surrendered to the Russians and were under Soviet rule until 1917. 900 people now live on the island and the walls are on the UNESCO world heritage list.

On the fortress edge, with the sea (ice) in the background

The fortressing is significant and there are many canons dotted around the perimeter

It was interesting looking at the sea ice on the journey – there are some very large bits out there.

A Finnish submarine 1933 displayed on the island

We came back to Helsinki itself and visited 2 churches. The 1st was the Uspenski Cathedral, a Russian Orthodox Church built about 1868. Apparently the bricks came from a fortress in Aland which was destroyed in the Crimean War. The gold domes were glistening in the sunlight. The interior while not elaborately decorated was impressive and very light.

The other church was a modern edifice from 1969 designed by architect brothers, Timo and Tuomo Suomalainen. The church is circular and built into solid rock and has many glass windows around the top. The 24m diameter ceiling is covered with 22km of copper stripping. From the outside it is hard to know it is a church.

Outside and inside the “Rock Church”

We have both very much enjoyed Helsinki. A great department store, Stockmanns, excellent food, wine and it has the Financial Times.

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