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Helsinki  is the capital city of Finland. It is located in southern Finland, on the shores of the Gulf of Finland, an arm of the Baltic Sea. With a population of over 600 thousand people and 1.2 million people living in the urban area, it is the largest city in Finland. Its metropolitan area includes other towns and cities including  Espoo (Finland's second largest city), Vantaa and Kauniainen. Helsinki is the major political, educational, financial and cultural centre of the country. It has often been ranked as one of the best major cities in the world to live in. Helsinki was established as a trading town by King Gustav I of Sweden in 1550 as the town of Helsingfors. However, it wasn't until 1812, it replaced Turku as the Finnish capital. From then on, the city saw steady continuous growth. In 1952, it hosted the Olympic Games and in the 1970's the city saw, along with much of Finland, rapid urbanisation with the city's metro system beginning in 1982. By comparison with other Scandinavian capital cities, Helsinki's development has been comparatively late and because of this, it can to the visitor have a more modern feel to it.

This beautiful Scandinavian city is seemingly never far from water and there is much to write about with respect to the many interesting facets it has; whether the history, geography, people, museums, theatres, music, art, recreation or other many attractions it has to offer, all go beyond the scope of this webpage and so below is a brief description of some of my photos (in approximate order) and further reading can be found here.

Helsinki Cathedral. This is the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran cathedral of the Diocese of Helsinki. The church was originally built from 1830-1852 as a tribute to the Grand Duke of Finland, Tsar Nicholas I of Russia and it was modelled on Saint Isaac's Cathedral in St. Petersburg.

Uspenski Cathedral. An Eastern Orthodox cathedral dedicated to the Dormition of the Theotokos (the Virgin Mary). Its name comes from the Old Church Slavonic word uspenie, which denotes the Dormition. It was consecrated in 1868 and designed by the Russian architect Aleksey Gornostayev, whom sadly never lived to see it built.

Helsinki Waterfront. Plenty of water wherever you go in the city. One of the things that caught my eye was people using it to wash their carpets!

Cumulus Airport Hotel. Nothing of note in this photo, just one of two hotels I stayed in whilst visiting Helsinki. There was a shortage of rooms in the city on one night, because a global conference on diabetes was taking place there - a reminder that the city is truly recognised globally. On this note, Helsinki Airport is located just over 10 miles to the north of the city centre. For fans of the Finnish illustrator and writer Tove Jansson's famous creation, the shopping area is not short of Moomin merchandise.

Havis Amanda. A female statue sculpted by Ville Vallgren (1855-1940) in 1906 in Paris, and erected in the Market Square in Kaartinkaupunki in 1908. She is a mermaid who stands on seaweed as she rises from the water, with four fish spouting water at her feet and surrounded by four sea lions. Further reading here.

Temppeliaukio Church (photos 8 and 9). Also known as the Church of the Rock and Rock Church, this I found a personal favourite of the many sites time permitted. This is a Lutheran church in the Töölö neighbourhood of the city. Earlier plans began in the 1930's although due to interruptions caused by World War II, and after a competition, the design of the church came from architects and brothers Timo and Tuomo Suomalainen. The resulting building we see today was opened in 1969. It is somewhat unassuming from the exterior, but built directly into solid rock. Once inside, natural light from the skylight surrounding a central copper dome makes for a truly unique interior both aesthetically and acoustically.

Sibelius Monument (photos 10 and 11). Whilst not too many people around the world may have heard of the Moomin's highly acclaimed creator Tove Jansson, I am sure more may be familiar with Jean Sibelius (1865-1957). Sibelius was a Finnish composer of the late Romantic period and his music played an important role in the formation of the Finnish national identity. The Sibelius Monument, dedicated to the composer is located at the Sibelius Park in the district of Töölö and is one of the city's most popular tourist attractions. Designed by Eila Hiltunen, the monument was unveiled on September 7, 1967 and is constructed from over 600 hollow steel pipes forming a wave shape. When unveiled, the monument created some debate as is often the case with abstract art.

Parliament of Finland (photo 12). Designed in the classic style of the 1920's, and after a design competition, the building was constructed from 1926 to 1931 and was officially inaugurated on March 7, 1931. The exterior is a reddish Kalvola granite and the façade is lined by 14 columns with Corinthian capitals at their tops.

Note: (not shown below) Another building I saw of architectural note in the city was Helsinki Central Railway Station.  Inaugurated in 1919, it is a widely recognised landmark. With 200,000 passengers per day, it is Finland's most-visited building. I was particularly fond of the two pairs of statues holding up spherical lamps at the front of the building. Photos on external link here.

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