International Writers Magazine:
Finland: From Our Archives
weekend in Helsinki
population reaching just above half a million inhabitants and its
important size leaves the streets this extra space that you would
not get in other cities that are generally smaller in size and more
populated. Helsinki seems to be a calm city. As I arrived at Helsinki
airport I couldnt help but notice it s surprisingly quiet
surroundings. There was absolutely no noise at all. I could barely
hear the passengers leaving the airport. And then in the city centre,
I was taken aback by its calm serenity. Disturbing noises which
are commonplace in city life couldnt be heard anywhere. There
was something beautiful about all of this.
Images © Auriele Montfrond
Tall colourful buildings
in a neoclassical and romantic architecture. its cafes with its terraces.
Its Longchamp and Louis Vitton shops around the esplanade on Pohjoisesplanadi
street. Helsinki has a Parisian sophistication and lifestyle. This is
definitely the Paris of the north.
While at the same time large plazas with modern shopping centers and
high glass buildings with flashing signs of brands and companies makes
Helsinki being to Europe what Tokyo is to Asia.
There is much to do in Helsinki and most attractions can be easily done
by foot. There are also a lot of transport between buses, tramways and
A walk around the harbour which it is part of the city centre is recommended
for architecture sights. You can reach from parallel streets the famous
cathedrals that are only separated a few meters from each other. The
white Lutheran cathedral and the red orthodox cathedral in its Russian
style stands out the rest. Souvenirs and design shops emerge around
the square where the white cathedral stands along the statue of Alexander
Kiseleffin Talo or also known as Kiseleff house situated just opposite
the statue around the corner of Aleksanterinkatu and Unioninkatu street
is a group of many small shops that sell hand crafted products. The
prices are quite high there and it is almost the same everywhere in
Helsinki as most of the products are made with wood and are all entirely
hand crafted. You can actually see the shop owners making them as you
have a look around. There is an obvious mix of Russian, Swedish and
Finnish culture. An extensive choice of beautifully painted Russian
dolls can be found in almost any shops as well as wood Finnish and design
products. Souvenirs products represent anything as fishes, deers , hedgehogs
and other animals from the forest. The national pride, which is a famous
Finnish comic cartoon, called "moomim" for children and young
at heart is omnipresent. For literature or casual reader lovers, Helsinki
is a paradise of bookshops. They open later than any other shops. Finnish
people like to read a lot. The immense bookshop near Stockmann the biggest
shopping centre in Scandinavia is worth a detour. Not only but surprising
is the extensive choice of books. Half of the bookshop contains books
in English and French languages as well as Russian .You can find Finnish
literature translated in any possible languages. Magazines and newspapers
imported from all over the world. Most of them are in Finnish, English,
French, German and Russian that covers from politics to rarities that
you only expect to find in your own country.
The Helsinki card
allows you free visit to most of museums and attractions as well as
reductions to shops and restaurants. It is ideal for a short break and
you can get it either for one, two or three days. You can enjoy for
free with any of them a sightseeing tour by bus that takes you to the
most important sights of Helsinki and lasts an hour and a half. For
Architecture and Art lovers, a visit to the Museum of Finnish architecture
where you can have a look at the models, pictures archives and drawings
collection of Finnish architecture.
There are many Art museums; Kiasma the museum of contemporary art, Ateneum
art museum which is part of the Finnish national gallery that hold the
largest art collections of the country which contain Finnish art from
the 1750s to the 1960s and western art from the late 19th century to
The Tennis palace art museum is situated inside a cinema that is one
of the biggest in Europe. It looks like a small department store or
a big train station waiting room. It has shops that sell quite a lot
of sweets, cafes and rarities for comic cartoons collectors. The exterior
facade reminds of the tennis court that was held inside the building.
Its art museum holds changing Finnish and International exhibitions
from various periods and related happenings. Exhibitions in 2008 include
Pixar and Anton Corbjin.
For the best views of the cityscape you can climb to the top of the
Hotel Torni where there is a rooftop bar terrace with a 360 degrees
view of Helsinki or use the 74m-observation tower of the Olympic stadium
where there is no event.
An escapade to Korkeasaari (Helsinki Zoo) is the last thing to do before
leaving. It is close to the city centre and reachable by boat from market
square. The sight of Helsinki harbour and its beautiful islands makes
it worth a visit.
zoo is dedicated to the protection of endangered species and covers
a wide geographic area, from the Arctic tundra to the Amazon. You
can see rare animals such as the snow leopard and the Siberian tiger.
Helsinki has everything for everyone and for every age. This is
a place of culture, sophistication and intelligence. Lively at nighttime
and calm during the day.
There is also a romantic feel about the place. It does not have
to be only its museums, its designers shops or anything else
but simply the envy of strolling through its beautiful streets,
admiring the fine and outstanding architecture.
General and tour information, reservations:
Hotel Glo is situated in the city centre opposite the esplanade. This
comfortable design and modern hotel recently opened in 2004 and is part
of the Palace Kamp group.
Open Mo-Fr 10-18, Sa 10-16, Sun 11-16
-Stokmann department store
-Kamppi shopping centre
Sights of Helsinki:
Open Mo-Fr 9-19, Sa-Su 9-18
Museums and attractions:
-Museum of Finnish architecture
Open Tu-Su 10-16 and on We 10-20
-Tennis palace art museum
Open Tu-Su 11-20h30
Open Mo-Su 10-18
Boat transport to Helsinki zoo departs from Market Square on every half
hour from 10 to 18 every day. All Museums and attractions mentioned
in the article including boat transport to the zoo are free with the
© Aurelie Montfrond
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