Suomenlinna Island & Fortress, Helsinki
Suomenlinna is actually made up of eight Islands.
We caught the Ferry across to the Island to spend a few hours there.
After disembarking, we made our way to the Visitor Centre, this is where the Suomenlinna Museum is located. First, we had a look here, then made our way to the Church.
We could see the Church, rather like a greek orthodox church, it was built built for the Russian troops in 1854.
Originally the Church had five onion domes.
It was converted into an Evangelical Lutheran church during the 1920s.
I thought this interesting....
The central dome doubles as a lighthouse making it one of only a few churches in the world that does this! The signal blink is the Morse code for the letter "H" for Helsinki.
The Visitor Centre is about 500 metres from the main pier. The waterbus stops at the Visitor Centre pier during summer.
I had read about this Submarine being here and decided to pay it a visit, as my husband hadn't been in a Submarine.
The Vesikko is actually a part of the Military Museum and is docked at the shore of the island of Suomenlinna, near the Suomenlinna Fortress
Submarine Vesikko was one of the five submarines that served in the Finnish army. Vesikko was in service during the World War II, and patrolled the Gulf of Finland during the Winter War against the Soviet Baltic Fleet.
It's also the only surviving German Type II submarine in the world.
The Submarine is very small, we found it crowded with only another couple in the Sub.
I really was disappointed after having been in a big Submarine.
At least the entrance fee wasn't a fortune and was included on our Helsinki card.
OPEN....12th May - 31st August from 11am - 6pm Dailly
ADMISSION.... Adults 4 euro
The old fortress on an island just 10 minutes by small boat from the harbour. This place build long time ago to defend the city from invaders. These days its a great place for sightseeing, picnic and even beer tasting in local brewery restaurant.
If you are interested in history, then you will enjoy it.
Its a great place for a little picnic and a little dip in the sea :)
It used to be a Swedish fortress (its also called Sveaborg in brochures) and the guide shows you around the old shipyard, look-out posts etc. The island was a strategic look-out point against the Russians.
Most embarassingly, we got sunburnt there! (thats how pathetically white Irish people are!). Lots of sandy stretches where you can dip in the water, guided tours around the island, which seems to be some sort of arty commune.
The most outstanding tourist sight in Helsinki
One of the largest sea fortresses in the whole world, "The Gibraltar of the North". Founded in 1748. Included in UNESCO's list or World Heritage Sites.
Many museums (the Suomenlinna Museum in the same building with the Information Centre, the Doll and Toy Museum in the old Russian villa, the Customs Museum with hundreads of old dolls from the 1830`s to the 1960´s, e.g. about one hundread antique bears, and three Military Museums with a restored 250 000 kg Submarine Vesikko of the Second World War), swimming beaches, cafes, a summer theatre and restaurants. You can also buy home made pastries, old-fashioned lemonade and Russian style tea from the Doll and Toy Museum.
Sveaborg Experience is the award-winning multivision show of the history of Suomenlinna. This show in the Information Centre is "the must" for every visitor in Suomenlinna.
Jetty Barracks Gallery next to the boat quay inputs on contemporary art exhibitions. Admission free.
Suomenlinna is also a living suburb of Helsinki with almost 900 people living in the renovated ramparts and barracks.
The big island outside Helsinki is a perfect place for a romantic walk. Green everywhere, and lots of history, from all the war Finland had with their neighbours Sweden and Russia. You can still see some of the guns they used.
There is also some restaurants, a couple of shops, and a food store, so you can stay out there the whole day without problem.
I got here with my ex-girlfriend before lunch, and walked around for a couple of hours, sat down and looked at the sea, took another walk, made some photos, and had a couple of beers.
To the island you go by boat, which take off from the big Market place in Helsinki. It cost 2 euro, or you can do as my dear guide said, “don’t pay, and pretend that it’s raining if someone ask your for the ticket”.
Well, then I had to be nervous during both trips, so I don’t know if it was really worth it… But still…
Also the boat trip is nice, takes around 15-20 minutes, and you pass a lot of small islands during the way to and from Sveaborg.
Just make sure that it’s good weather, or at least not raining, when you’re there. When it’s sunny it’s a wonderful place, but when it’s raining… Well, let me just say that it’s not crowded with places to hide away from the rain…
Make sure to take a look at all the old pieces of the fortress. My friend said it looked like the place where the hobbits, in The Lord of the Rings, were living. And I must agree with her.
The Vesikko was built in the early 1930s for the German navy. In 1936 she joined the Finnish navy ans saw active service around the Baltic and surrounding areas during the Second World War.
After the war all Finnish subs were destroyed ---except for the Vesikko.
So, you can visit her on the island of Vargon Susisaari, which is part of Suomenlinna. To get there you can catch a ferry from Helsinki harbour. Only 20 minutes at the most!
The submarine is on dry land and for very little money (a few Euros) you can climb in and explore as well as take photos. Okay, she's a small sub at 40m length but I felt huge admiration for the sailors who were confined in her vulnerable shell.
You can see the torpedo tubes, the two groups of bunks (the ones at the stern are so small and the noise from the engines must have been awful. The engines, galley and radio room can also be seen. When I was there, the radio room light wasn't working and so I used my flash and camera screen to see what was in there.
I know little of engineering or bravery ---but I was impressed by both.
Would I go again? Yes, as part of a whole day on Suomenlinna.
A brief public ferry ride from Helsinki harbour across to Suomenlinna is fun ---even in the slight rain that we experienced.
You are visiting a World Heritage Site!
There is the huge Sveaborg fortress here with parts of it on all of the six islands. It really is a fascinating place, reminding me of the anti-Napoleon fortifications in England ---but on a larger scale!
We only had time for one island which is called Vargon Susiaari. All of the islands are linked but we just ran out of time!
So, what did we see and enjoy? There is a small ship yard still in use to a limited extent. There are museums with plenty of maps, painings, artefacts, cannon, models and so on. There are plenty of buildings (many people live on these islands and so there is a range of fascilities (e.g. a primary school, a library) for the inhabitants. Of course there are cafes, artists studios, a visitors centre, parks and the unusual tomb of Field Marshal Ehrensvard ---the planner, supervisor and champion of the fortress.
The history of the fortress is fascinating: Swedish, Finnish and Russian wars etc and it was a prison at the end of the First World War.
I have also wriiten a page about the Finnish submarine that is on the island.
Would I go back there? Yes! However, I'd like to spend a whole day there!
For anyone wanting to combine both culture and beach-life, a trip to Suomenlinna is a must. It is a perfect outing destination,especially for picnics and will fill part of your history quota during family holidays. ;) You also get to see a bit of the archipelago, so there's something for everyone here.
Actually, Suomenlinna is the main island in a group of islands connected for defensive purposes. The fortress on the island was built in the 1700s to provide a defensive outpost against possible eastern aggressions (= Russia) for the Swedish-Finnish kingdom. Originally, the Finnish name was Viapori, resembling the Swedish name Sveaborg. It was an important fortress in the defence of Southern Finland and this was clear from the fact that when Suomenlinna surrendered in the Russo-Swedish war of 1808-1809, it was more or less a sign of things to come, when Sweden lost Finland to Russia as a result of the war. After Finland declared its independence, Viapori was named Suomenlinna.
Today, the island is home to almost a thousand permanent residents, who live in the soldier barracks still on the island. The island has its own shop, post office, cafés and a church too and a number of museums and exhibitions. The island also have public beaches (easily identified by the big bird signs), which are crowded during warm summer days.
The best way to explore the island is by walking around (preferably after your picnic) and stopping wherever you see something interesting. The defensive structures and cannons usually interest both young and old, and the tunnels and ravelins add to the atmosphere of the island.
It will be crowded during nice days, so go early if the weather forecast spells sunny, especially during the warmer months.
Suomenlinna island (also known as Sveaborg, according to its original Swedish name) is located a short ferry trip away from the market square. Although the island is located off the coast of Helsinki, it is part of the city. It is a home to about 900 inhabitants who live on the island all around the year. Most buildings date back to the time when Finland was ruled by its neighbours, Sweden and subsequently by Russia. The rest of the buildings on the island are in use as offices, maintenance buildings and service points.
The island is also a home to a 250-year-old naval fortress, also known as Suomenlinna, that is open to visitors all year round. The construction of the fortress began in 1748 and it has been compared to the British maritime fortifications at Gibraltar, as it was built during the Swedish rule. It is one of the seven UNESCO's World Heritage Sites in Finland, and has been included in the list since 1991.
The island is really a mini city within a city. The facilities on the island include a library, fire brigade, church, visitors centre, shop, kiosk, post office, restaurants, cafés, a youth hostel, a brewery, several museums as well as an open air theatre. Some of these are, however, closed during the winter.
There are plenty of nice spots for a picnic and you can also swim and sunbathe in various locations on the island - be prepared to walk a bit though.
In addition, they organise several events all around the year, including guided tours and exhibitions, a jazz festival, regatta and several concerts. In winter, visitors can enjoy the peace and quiet (as well as the snow, ice and the freezing temperatures) of the island.
About 15 minutes on the ferry from Market Square to this UNESCO heritage site. Built, I believe by Swedes, captured by Russians and now rightly in Finnish hands.
An interesting place to wander around and eerily quiet on a wet Sunday morning when we visited, can imagine it gets pretty busy in Summer.
Another attraction here is the microbrewery, see later tip.
Enjoyed our time here.
This beautiful island and fortress worth to see if you have extra time.
That fortress is builded at 1748. It has a great importance at Finland's history.
There are many things to see. My favorites were Suomenlinna museum and Toy museum.
There are good and cheap restaurants in it. You may eat interesting things there.
A visit to Suomenlinna will allow you to see one of the world’s largest historical maritime fortresses, built on 6 islands, during the 18 th century.
But besides that, you get a chance to see some great views and park areas (it’s also a residential area to around 850 people), as well as some “jewels” if you are a fan of such things: a World War II submarine and some well preserved bunkers and guns.
The biggest tourist draw in Helsinki is probably the star fort Suomenlinna. It was built by the Swedes on a series of islands in the Baltic Sea, to defend Finland from the Russians. It didn't see much action, as the Swedes capitulated the moment they heard a Russian shout angrily from a passing fishing boat.
Unfortunately, its location in the freezing waters of the Baltic mean that even on a mild summer's day it turns you into a block of ice in minutes. I actually took only a few pictures on the fort itself, and they were all blurred because of my shaking hands (from both the freezing cold and the ferocious winds).
It is an impressive fort though, and the rest of the islands are beautiful too, all built on the same solid granite as Helsinki. You can also enjoy a picnic here watching the ferries sail past your nose, at least you can if the weather is decent or you are of a very hardy constitution.
We paid 5.5 Euro to ride the ferry to Suomenlinna Island. There is a narration about the island and Helsinki while on the ferry. I had emailed the Jet Line before we left home about using a credit card. They responded with answers to all my questions - very friendly.
Suomenlinna Sea Fortress is on the UNESCO World Heritage List. It took 15 minutes to get to the island. It was very windy but sunny when we got there. This was made a fortress by Sweden and called SVEABORG when built in the 18th Century. There are great views of Helsinki from here. Finland was forced into war in 1939-1940 when Stalin's Red Army invaded. Marshall Gustav Mannerheim led the small country to resist re-annexation to Russia. Finland has the distinction of being the only country to entirely repay the war loan to both the US and the Soviet Union.