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Top Rated Attractions in Helsinki

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Suomenlinna Maritime Fortress

The waves of the Kronbergsfjärden bay crash against the rocks bounding the fortress of Suomenlinna, a sight as riveting as the fortress itself. The majestic fortification straddles six islands that compose the city of Helsinki, and is representative of a long-drawn struggle in Finnish history. Originally called Sveaborg from 1748 to 1808, this sea fortress was the property of Sweden before it was ambushed in the Russo-Swedish war. Later, Suomenlinna stood testament to the time of Russian administration, until the independence of Finland made it the latter's property. Also known as the Castle of Finland, the Suomenlinna draws comparisons to the Fort of Gibraltar, and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The fortress houses six museums that can be explored at leisure.

Uspenski Cathedral

Mounted on a small hillock on the Katajanokka peninsula, the Uspenski Cathedral stands as an example of Russia's architectural influence. The splendor of the church's Eastern Orthodox architecture is visible from far corners of the city, with sunlight bouncing off the cathedral's gilded cupolas, and cross-shaped spires reaching for the skies. The red-bricked facade is impressive as well, the result of design work by Russian architect Aleksey Gornostayev. Up until 2007, the Uspenski Cathedral was home to the icon of St. Nicholas, before it was stolen. The cathedral is dedicated to the Dormition of the Theotokos and has a crypt chapel that is named after Alexander Hotovitzky, former vicar of the Orthodox parish of Helsinki.

Seurasaari Open-Air Museum

This open-air museum was founded in 1909 on the popular recreational island of Seurasaari. The permanent exhibition consists of Finnish peasant architecture, including 85 buildings brought from various parts of the country. There are outhouses, swings, church boats, a tar-burning pit and the wooden Karuna church (1686). The founder of the museum, Professor of ethnology Axel Olai Heikel, is interred next to this church. The two-storied building has perfectly preserved interiors. Enjoy wandering about in the woods and the events that are arranged here, notably the traditional midsummer feast.

Töölö Bay

Töölö Bay and its surroundings form one of Finland's most talked-about and picturesque locations. Some of the area's main sights merge with stunningly beautiful parks to create charming scenery. A stroll around the bay from Linnunlauluntie road right by the railway tracks reveals the timeless old villas at Linnunlaulu. Romantic wooden houses line up the streets and a sandy path leads to a park. On the right is the concrete brilliance of the Helsinginkatu street, on the other side of which lies the City Winter Garden. Sprawling parks such as the Kiasma, Musiikkitalo, and Makasiini form an enchanting mosaic of green, while cultural landmarks such as the National Theatre and Finlandia Hall regale visitors with riveting performances.


Located in the heart of the city, this museum houses various genres of art including surrealism, expressionism and cubism. It also has a collection of Italian 14th-century pieces. The main emphasis, however, lies on Finnish art from the mid-18th Century to the 1960s; you will find the work of Isak Wacklin, and that of Wäinö Aaltonen, whose statue of Aleksis Kivi stands directly opposite the museum. The museum also boasts of an interesting bookstore and fabulous cafe. Call ahead to know more.

Helsinki University Library

The gorgeous University Library, right next to the main building of the University and the Cathedral, is one of Engel's most beautiful creations, completed in 1844. Large windows soften its yellowandwhite exterior, while trees surround the back of the building, making this one of Helsinki's most endearing sights. The outer wall of the library sports a bronze bust of Czar Alexander I and a plaque commemorating the designers of the old city centre, J. A. Ehrenström and C. L. Engel. The interior of the library building is also spectacular. The old interiors are in good shape, and the current refurbishment process is expected to bring even more of the old lustre back. The main hall with its oldfashioned furnishings and marvellous ceiling frescoes is one of the most admired interiors in Finland. The soft, beautiful exterior and ! serene mood of the petite building, overshadowed by taller, more majestic structures, have a calming effect on the whole neighbourhood.

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