In this video, we pay a pre-Covid visit to Helsinki, Finland’s capital on the Baltic coast, situated 80km north of Tallinn, Estonia, 400km east of Stockholm, Sweden, and 300km west of Saint Petersburg, Russia – three cities with which it has close historical ties.
For a century an outpost of the Russian empire, Helsinki’s shape and form derives from its more powerful neighbour. Yet once into the 20th century, its impressive buildings began to reflect the dawning of the country’s nationalism, ushering in the so-called golden age of Finnish design in the Fifties.
Today, its boutiques, workshops and galleries are filled with glassware, lighting and textiles, with innovative homewares proliferating in the Design District south of the centre in Punavuori, home to the superb Design Museum
Contemporary architectural highlights, meanwhile, include the Kiasma museum of contemporary art (1998) and concert hall Musiikkitalo (2011). Modernism is exemplified by Alvar Aalto’s Akateeminen Kirjakauppa (1969) and Finlandia Talo concert hall (1971), along with Timo and Tuomo Suomalainen’s astonishing rock-carved church, the Temppeliaukio (1969).
What about the other senses? Coffee lovers and foodies are spoiled here, with options spanning a historic kauppahalli (covered market) to venerable cafés, restaurants, bistros and Michelin-starred gastronomy labs.
Topping off all the culture is the sublime natural environment, easily reachable from every part of the city.
In the warmer months, visitors can go boating to its archipelago’s islands, stroll its beaches, parks and gardens, and hike in its surrounding forests. The long winter, meanwhile, offers snowshoeing, cross-country and downhill skiing, ice skating and ice fishing on its many bays.
Should you find yourself here, memorable sites to visit include:
- Suomenlinna fortress
- Ateneum art gallery
- Seurasaaren Ulkomuseo museum
- Kiasma gallery
- Design Museum
- Esplanadin Puisto park
- Kaivopuisto park
- Temppeliaukion Kirkko church
- Suomnelinna Toy Museum
- Amos Rex art museum
- Kajsaniemi gardens
- Oodi library
- Sibelius Monument
- Helsinki Observatory
- Kauppatori market
View the original video here.
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