"Pearl of the Baltic" Helsinki by MikeAtSea

Helsinki Travel Guide: 3,798 reviews and 7,819 photos

Often referred to as the “Pearl of the Baltic,” this neat, clean city on Finland’s southern coast is known for its impressive architecture, wide boulevards and beautiful harbour. Founded in 1550, Helsinki was appointed as the country’s capital in 1812.After a devastating fire, Helsinki was totally rebuilt, mostly in neoclassical, Empire style. An outstanding example of this impressive architecture can be seen around the grand Senate Square, dominated by the exquisite Tuomio Church at one end and the onion domes of the Russian Orthodox Uspenski Cathedral at the eastern end. The city is full of wonderful museums, displaying everything from art to architectural design. The colourful harbour front is the site of a lively market. Treeshaded Esplanadi leads north into Mannerheimintie, the city’s main thoroughfare named after the military commander and statesman, C.G.E. Mannerheim. Visit the late 1960’s Temppeliaukio Church (Rock Church) that was created from an odd combination of manmade and natural materials.
Finland’s musical heritage comes alive in the great Finlandia Hall, designed by the renowned architect, Alvar Aalto. Finland’s beloved composer, Jean Sibelius, is remembered with a beautiful monument on Helsinki’s outskirts.

The country’s presidential republic is known for its stable government and solid economy. This creates a pleasant lifestyle for the majority of its citizens. Finland’s most northern region is home to the nomadic Lapp people, who are very protective of their traditional lifestyle.

During the summer months, the residents are eager to enjoy every minute of the long daylight hours lasting long into the night. Warm, sunny days are an invitation to soak up the sun after long and seemingly endless winters. Festivities and celebrations abound; visitors often get swept up in this revelry.

Jewellery, china, glassware and pottery are among the best known products of Finnish design. The waterfront market with its many stalls of produce, fish, flowers, and handicrafts, is both a colourful and convenient venue for shopping. Other opportunities are found along Esplanadi and Mannerheimintie, the main shopping streets. At Stockmann’s Department Store you can find everything under one roof. Tourists may benefit on some items from tax free shopping, especially in stores displaying the “Tax Free for Tourists” sign. The local currency is the euro.

Kalakukko (rye bread baked with fish filling), karjalan piirakka (potato or rice pastry), turbot roe and karelian (rice pastry and stew) are popular local dishes. Seafood can also be found on most menus. At the market, various stalls offer samples of Finnish delicacies.

Other Sights
Helsinki boasts several excellent museums: Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art, the Art Museum of the Ateneum, City Museum, Amos Anderson Museum of Art and the National Museum.
Open Air Museum:
Crossing a bridge, the small wooded island of Seurasaari features a collection of vernacular buildings assembled from all over Finland. This open air museum
provides some insight into how the country folk lived until recently. Suomenlinna Fortress: Ferries depart from the harbour for the 30minute ride to the island fortress of Suomenlinna, the largest sea fortress in the world and often called the “Gibraltar of the North.”The site is included on UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Treasures.

  • Last visit to Helsinki: Jul 2004
  • Intro Written Nov 10, 2004
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Reviews (9)

Comments (3)

  • HORSCHECK's Profile Photo
    Aug 25, 2007 at 6:13 AM

    Gorgoeous updates with brilliant photos here. Greetings to Helsinki.

  • Bigs's Profile Photo
    Feb 3, 2005 at 9:29 AM

    Great summary about one of my favourite European cities..... I just love the harbour and the islands....

  • ZenLady34's Profile Photo
    Jan 12, 2005 at 10:22 PM

    gosh Mike! VERY impressive facts abt Helsinki.What did you like / dislike abt the city -thought crossed my mind. but very impressive pages (all of them). Regards from dark and rainy Finland! take care


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