City Guide Helsinki
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City Guide Helsinki

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The capital of Finland, Helsinki was founded in 1550 as a competitor for Tallinn with regards to Baltic Sea trade. As you see the city for yourself, you will appreciate how the streets are steeped in ...

The capital of Finland, Helsinki was founded in 1550 as a competitor for Tallinn with regards to Baltic Sea trade. As you see the city for yourself, you will appreciate how the streets are steeped in centuries of history, which is reflected in the architecture.

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City Guide Helsinki City Guide Helsinki Document Transcript

  • Helsinki - A City of Architecture and Wide Open Spaces Posted by Guest Blogger on 24th, October 2012 When planning a city break, for many people it often seems that the focus is on Central Europe and the countries around the Mediterranean. However, don’t neglect Northern Europe, as it hides many gems, all waiting to be explored. A prime example is Helsinki. The capital of Finland, Helsinki was founded in 1550 as a competitor for Tallinn with regards to Baltic Sea trade. As you see the city for yourself, you will appreciate how the streets are steeped in centuries of history, which is reflected in the architecture. Helsinki isn’t just about historic buildings though, contemporary buildings also nestle within the city and this year it won the title of World Design Capital. Holiday Villa Portugal A Mix Of Influences While Nordic minimalism is typical of the city’s architecture, Uspenski Cathedral – Western Europe’s largest Orthodox Church – is a fine example of Byzantine-Russian architecture, which is a feature of Helsinki. The area around Senate Square displays examples of Neo-classical architecture, while elsewhere in the city you can enjoy buildings in the Art Nouveau style; Helsinki boasts the largest density of Art Nouveau in Northern Europe. Newer buildings include the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma – located in the city centre - and the High Tech Centre, which can be found in the Ruoholahti district.
  • See The City By Tram Although Helsinki’s compact size makes it very amenable to explore on foot, the city has a good tram network and this is an alternative way to see the city. For example taking tramline 4 allows visitors to experience the wide array of architectural styles that Helsinki has to offer. Starting in the Katajanokka district, visit Uspenski Cathedral and take in the Art Nouveau buildings; a former prison here has also been converted into a hotel. The nearby Senate Square is famous for its buildings designed by Carl Ludvig Engel in the mid 19th century. Here you can visit the 160 year old Helsinki Cathedral, which is probably Finland’s most famous building. Like the other buildings around the square, its design was based - with some modifications - on the Empire style of architecture seen in St Petersburg. While here also take time to look at the Government Palace, the main building of the University of Helsinki and the National Library of Finland; Sederholm House, the oldest stone building in the city, is also located on the square. Weekend In Barcelona Getting back on the tram, your onward journey takes you to Kiasma Contemporary Art Museum, where you can immerse yourself in art from the 1960’s; work by artists from Scandinavia, the Baltic and Russia can all be seen. Take the short walk to Parliament House, which was completed in 1931. This granite building with its imposing columns is impressive from the outside, but visitors can also take a tour of its interior; of note are the entrance lobby, marble stair cases, the paternoster lifts, the Session Hall and the Hall of State. Back on the tram again, you are taken to Finlandia Hall; completed in 1975, it is an impressive sight and is aside from its financial and political function, is also host to cultural events. One tram stop away is the National Opera House; situated close to a bay and completed in 1993, this is an example of
  • modern Finnish architecture at its best. Even if you are not there to see a performance, the building is still well worth a visit. Other Attractions This tram journey will only have given you a glimpse of what Helsinki has to offer. If your trip to Kiasma has whetted your appetite for further art, there are exhibits displayed in a further 27 museums and galleries around the city. There are also a range of other museums in Helsinki, where visitors can learn more about its past and the history of Finland as a whole; for nature lovers the Natural History Museum is a must. If however you feel that you would prefer to spend some time outdoors, you are in luck, as a third of the city is devoted to green space. Kaivopuisto Park overlooks the sea and is an ideal place for a lunch stop. Meanwhile a visit to the Winter, Botanical or Tropical Gardens allows you to take in a diverse range of plants from around the globe. Between November and March visitors can also enjoy ice skating at Railway Square. There are numerous other attractions geared towards younger members of the family – notably Helsinki’s zoo and aquarium – so everyone is catered for on a trip to Helsinki. Lucy writes travel articles for a number of UK blogs and sites. Europe's historic cities are always her favourite destinations.