Monday, April 23, 2012

The spreckled hen explores Finland: Suomenlinna edition

After the hustle and bustle of the last several weeks, we finally found some time to take a break and do some sightseeing. There is a little set of islands right off the coast of Helsinki called Suomenlinna (pronounced "sue-oh-men-leen-nah"), which is only a 15 minute ferry/5 euro ticket away, so we decided to go check it out.

It was the perfect day to go - a heatwave! Reached double digits in Celsius that day - 52 degrees F/10 degrees C. Pretty warm actually, and not that windy on most parts of the islands. Really pleasant.

So to give you some background - Suomenlinna was actually a military fortress used to protect mainland Finland from Russian invasions. Originally built up while Finland was under Swedish rule, it was actually home to quite a few (military) people and was quite a quaint little town of its own. When Russians came to take it over the first time, it stood its ground, and gained a reputation of being impregnable. Unfortunately some time later though, the Russians came again, and for whatever reason though the Swedes and Finns were clearly better numbered and better armed, their general waved the white flag and gave up their position. Needless to say he lived in shame for the rest of his life. Something something, ruled by Russia until Finland gained its independence later down the line.

Now Suomenlinna is a cute little historical tourist attraction preserved for the sake of posterity. There is a main road that allows people to walk through two of the five islands that make it up (you can go to the other ones if you want, but they're populated by the 900 people who actually live there) and see the historical buildings that have been renovated.

Let the slide show, begin!

First pic I took upon landing on the islands. NOT an Instagram photo, just a cool angle from the inside of a tunnel. Winter-barren trees, you do this photo some scary-movie justice.

The one church on the islands. Originally done in the ornate Russian style only to be torn down in defiance and simplified when Finland gained its independence (something something, in your eye, Russia!). Hilarious. Very plain on the inside - very...well, Lutheran.

Tomb of the guy who did lots of stuff for the island, 1788. Descriptive, I know. :) Actually he was the one who organized the build-up of the military fortifications and whatnot, plus smartly hired his engineer friend who invented everything and its mother run by windmill-power that allowed them to get things done (i.e. windmill that both sawed lumber and also ground grain at the same).

What most of their buildings look like. I think they use a lot of them for naval housing now, if they're not for historical/tourist purposes. Pretty neat looking.

MORE historical buildings. Oooo. ^_^

Look familiar? :) It's the spreckled hen in seabird-form carved in wood! Boots and all! I was thrilled to have found my nautical proxy. Just goes to show, you never know. :)

We noticed that a lot of their older buildings (most likely munitions bunkers) were built into the hillsides. The Shire! (Although very dry from winter). I am guessing they did this to hide them from view as ships were coming in. It also keeps them extremely well-insulated.

The main attraction at the end of the tourist road: The King's Gate. It's actually quite small, considering, and we're not actually sure what it was used for (a lack of signage is to blame for this). Despite it being grand on this side, it was actually not very interesting on the other side.

Kentucky-fried chicken! Or at least the closest thing I'll get, this side of the Bay of Finland. I've been told that the closest KFC is in Denmark. :( Unfortunately I didn't get to have this one, since I was still full from eating my one novelty ice cream (it was the warmest day of the year we'd had so far, after all).

Until next time, Suomenlinna!

1 comment:

  1. I really like that picture of the older buildings built into the side of the hills. Totally does remind me of the shire! haha oh LOTR... :D