Archive for the ‘Architecture’ Category

On my recent visit to Helsinki lovely friends took me to Lake Tuusula, about 30 minutes from Helsinki.

We visited the house of Finnish painter Pekka Halonen. (1865 – 1933). He was famous for his Finnish landscapes and people in Realist style.

His beautiful wooden house sits by the edge of the lake. The position provided him with perfect inspiration for his art. He designed the house himself with his brother Antti and called it Halosenniemi.

I wish I could show you the inside of the house but there was a strict, no photo rule. Instead come for a walk around the outside. It was a bleak autumn day on our visit, but the garden and the views from it are enchanting. I must return in spring.

Pekka Halonen

Pekka Halonen i

Pekka Halonen

Pekka Halonen

Halonen’s studio was opened for the first time to the public in the 1950s. Tickets cost €8 and is open Tuesday – Sunday. The house is stunning and it is a wonderful insight into the life of the artist.


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I travel to Helsinki at least 4 times a year. I love the city and each time I return I like to walk around revisiting my favourite places as well as discovering new ones.

My first stop is usually Fazer in Kluuvikatu for a coffee and one of their delicious rye sandwiches. (Click the word in bold type to see a post about the subject)



From there I walk through the park along Esplanadi to Market Square beside the harbour. The park is lovely in any season.

Esplanadi park


Havis Amanda is always there to greet me at the harbour.

Havis Amanda

I was at the harbour one very cold winter morning to see the sunrise.

Helsinki sunrise

There is often a market offering lots of local delights. I have managed to be in Helsinki 3 times for the Baltic Herring Fair held in October. Boats back into the harbour and sell their products directly. It is great fun to talk to the fishermen about their catch.

Kauppahalli, the covered market, always beckons me inside. On a cold winter day it is the perfect place to warm up with salmon soup for lunch. If I am staying at an apartment with a kitchen I buy fresh salmon to cook at home…wonderful.


A short walk from the harbour is the imposing Russian church, Uspenski Cathedral. It was built between 1862 and 1868.

Uspenski cathedral

Uspenski cathedral

Behind the church is the beautiful district of Katajanokka. I absolutely love the architecture in this area. I can wander for hours, trying to remember to look up at the incredible roof decoration. The beautiful doors are also a source of delight. All of Helsinki is full of fabulous buildings, but in this area they are all amazing.

Walking back towards the city I visit Senate Square dominated by Tuomiokirkko, Helsinki Cathedral. This exquisite white building looks brilliant with a blue sky background….or covered with snow.



Opposite the front of the church is the National Library of Finland. Even though I can’t borrow a book I like to wander through and look at the gorgeous reading rooms.

National Library of Finland

Back in the city I walk past the naked blacksmiths. Look for the bullet holes left from the war.

Naked blacksmiths

The railway station building was designed by Eleil Saarinen in 1904. It is one of the most beautiful in Europe. The stone men in front have been restored recently and carry their lights beautifully.

No visit to Helsinki would be complete without a walk around Tooloonlahti. I love the way Finns are out in any weather enjoying this beautiful place.


The shopping is excellent in Helsinki. They say if you can’t get at Stockmann it is not worth having.


Just in case I have missed something in Stockmann I drop in to Marimekko to see their beautiful clothes and homewares.

iittala has the most exquisite glassware and kitchen items. Something usually finds its way into my suitcase.

Dining in Helsinki is great. I have been to many Helsinki restaurants. For the setting, it is difficult to beat Kappeli, which has been around since 1867 in Esplanadi park.

Nokka serves delicious modern Finnish food.

Juuri is another favourite.

So far I have only dined at restaurants serving Finnish food. Helsinki restaurants also cater well for those looking for other cuisines. Look in the “Restaurant” category for posts on places I have visited.

I have been writing Beautiful Helsinki for 5 years. If you look back through the archives you will find quite a lot of information about this fabulous city.

I will be back in Helsinki next month…can’t wait.




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The beautiful rose garden in front of the Winter Garden still had some roses and other flowers in bloom when I visited in early autumn. It is delightful place to walk on a sunny day.

I walked from the city through the park at Toolonlahti.

Winter Garden Helsinki

Winter Garden Helsinki

Winter Garden Helsinki

Winter Garden Helsinki

Winter Garden Helsinki

Winter Garden Helsinki

Winter Garden Helsinki

Winter Garden Helsinki

Winter Garden Helsinki

Winter Garden Helsinki

Winter Garden Helsinki

Winter Garden Helsinki

Winter Garden Helsinki

The Winter Garden was established in 1983. The beautiful glass and metal building contains 200 species of plants, including palms, Norfolk pines and camellias.

Winter Garden Helsinki

Winter Garden Helsinki

Unfortunately the Winter Garden was not open when I was there, so I can’t show you inside…next time.

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Blue sky makes a great backdrop for the Tuomiokirkko.


Tuomiokirkko Helsinki

…so does a late evening sky.


Tuomiokirkko Helsinki

Tuomiokirkko Helsinki

Tuomiokirkko Helsinki

Beautiful Helsinki.

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Seurasaaren Park is a delightful open air museum not far from the centre of Helsinki. It was established in 1909 by Professor Axel Olai Heikel to help preserve Finnish architectural heritage. Buildings typical of the provinces and regions of Finland have been moved to Seurasaaren to exhibit the country’s historical culture of homes and public buildings. There are 87 buildings on the island.

A lovely white wooden bridge is the entrance to the island.


The island is a haven for birds and animals. Gorgeous brown faced gulls and barnacle geese were the first to greet us.

The views from the bridge are lovely, even on an overcast day.




Come for a walk around the island and discover some of the wonderful old buildings.



The tar boat house. In the 18th century tar had become Finland’s most important export item alomg with the development of sailing-ship fleets. Tar barrels were transported by water from Paltamo to be sold in Oulu. The tar boat was built in the 19th century.


The water mill is a so-called ‘leg mill’. The  water turned a horizontal paddle wheel that turned the upper quern stone. Mills were often jointly owned and in spring, when streams and small rivers were in full flood, they worked day and night. The mill was built in the 19th century.


The granary dates from the 17th century and is one of the oldest buildings of the open-air museum. Its understructure prevents mice from getting in the granary and helps ventilate the bottom in order to keep the grain dry.






The collection of buildings above belong to Kurssi Farm.


An old church.



The Magpie Mill is named because the upper section of the mill turns about a vertical axis with a spar resembling a magpie’s tail. The sails were set either with or against the wind. It is from the 19th century.



The pole erected for the summer solstice celebrations.


I was impressed by the wooden roof on this building.


The summer house comes from Moisio Manor in Elimaki, Uusimaa. The Empire-style summer house was designed by C.L. Engel and built in the 1830s.



The country store sold everything that the self-sustaining farms did not produce. It also functioned as a post office, bank and local news agency. The country store and its storehouses were built in the 19th century. Today the building also houses the museum shop.

The island is heavily wooded…and very beautiful. There are wild berries growing beside the walking paths.










The squirrels were a bit too quick to get good photos.






There are a couple of places to have lunch or a snack. We went to the Art Cafe opposite the bus stop. It has a lovely garden setting and we had a delicious salmon sandwich and coffee. They have just opened recently and will offer more in the near future.

Seurasaaren Park is easily accessible from the centre of Helsinki. Take the number 24 bus from outside Sokos department store in Mannerheimintie. The bus also takes you past the beautiful Sibelius Monument.

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This 100 year old building in the Katajanokka area of Helsinki was designed by Gustaf Nystrom. It lay dormant for the past 40 years, only used occasionally as storage. It came to life in 2010 when it began to be used for exhibitions and events.

It is a stunning example of the National Romantic style and was built at the turn of last century to support the rapidly growing city.








Here is an old photo of the building when there was a lot more space around it.


I really liked the Pop up Shop that appeared in the building as part of Helsinki Design Week.
Click here to the the post on the shop.

It is wonderful to see this stunning building being used again.

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Suomenlinna Church was built during the Russian regime, by order of Czar Nicolay 1, to function as a military church. The Alexander Nevsky garrison church was completed and inaugurated in 1854. It originally had 5 onion domes.


After Finland gained independence the church was consecrated in 1918 as a Lutheran church. The following year the cupolas of the 4 small towers were pulled down.

The central dome doubles as a lighthouse, which is a unique combination.


In the 1870s, the surrounding wall was made from cannons and chains that were used during the Swedish regime.

The interior of the church is simple and elegant.


The church bell is the largest in Finland. It was cast in Moscow in 1885 and weighs 6683 kilos.


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