Sweden’s King Gustavus Vasa founded Helsinki on the mouth of Vantaanjoki River in 1550.In 1748 Sweden began construction of the Suomenlinna Maritime Fortress off the coast of Helsinki to counter the growing threat from Russia. The massive project brought additional wealth, inhabitants and merchants to the town.
Russia conquered Finland in 1809. The status of Helsinki was raised to capital of the autonomous Grand Duchy of Finland three years later. A monumental Empire-style city plan was drawn up to reflect the power of Russia and the Tsar.
Finland became independent in 1917, and Helsinki assumed the demanding new role of capital of the young republic. Helsinki was one of nine European Cities of Culture in 2000. Later Helsinki was chosen as World Design Capital for the year 2012.
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We had one day that we could spend in Helsinki while we waited for our son to arrive from the States to attend school in Vaasa. We parked our rental car in underground parking (we called it the Hades parking lot) near the Stockmans store. After browsing the store we went across the street to the Akateeminen (Academic) Kirjakkauppa Bookstore which is the biggest bookstore in Finland.
From there it was on to the harbor area where they had Market booths. Clothing, food and souvenirs were available there. We also ate lunch at the Market which was fantastic. Next we went to the Uspensky Cathedral at Katajanokka which was a short walk away from the harbor. It’s a beautiful cathedral.
After leaving the Uspensky Cathedral we found restrooms in the City building which is close to the Market at the harbor, then it was just a short walk to the Helsinki Cathedral located in Senate Square. The inside of the cathedral had an austere and minimalist feel to it. It wasn’t nearly as ornate as the Uspensky Cathedral.
Heading back to the Hades parking lot we browsed more stores along the including the Moomin shop near Stockmans. Barbara bought a Moomin umbrella and some Moomin gifts for Christmas presents.
All in all it was a very enjoyable day spent in Helsinki. The people are friendly, food was good, and we really enjoyed Market at the harbor area.
The only qualm I have with the city is the size of the buildings. They seem to me to be a bit intimidating. There is a definite Russian feel to the architecture there.
If the chance arises we would like to visit Helsinki again in the future.
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