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
Suomenlinna is quite a big area to walk around and many of the surfaces are uneven.
We walked and looked at Museums, as these were included in our Helsinki card. There were quite a few Museum's scattered around the island.
The fortress is divided into a main fortress and surrounding outer fortresses. The main fortress consists of Iso Mustasaari and Susisaari islands, while the outer fortresses are on Kustaanmiekka, Pikku-Mustasaari, Länsi-Mustasaari, Särkka and Vallisaari islands. We didn't see all of it, as we felt we had seen enough, we both thought it a little disappointing too!
I took the ferry to Soumenlinna from Market Square, using the public HKL ferry which was covered by my Helsinki pass. It is a 15-min trip 2-3 per hour in summer at :00, :20 and :40 past the hour.
Also known as Sveaborg (meaning Fortress of Sweden), the Somenlinna was built by 15,000 workers under the direction of the Swedes to offset the dominance of the Russians in the region. However, it did fall later into the hands of the Russians in 1809 “by siege”, through no military attacks but just as a military award/gift when Helsinki became part of the Russian Empire.
Today, the island is inhabited by 1000 residents and so you will see some kids biking around. There is a big Visitor Center, which has a 25 minute “multi-vision show” and computers about the fortress. The center is a 10-15 minute walk from the boat dock.
Visitor Center is free daily May-Sept 1000-1800, Oct - Apr 1000-16600
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.
Ok, well you may not need the whole day to explore Suomenlinna, it would only take an hour or two to walk around the islands. But on a nice sunny day, why not take your time and spend the afternoon there.
In the summer you can go on one of the guided walking tours (available in Finnish, Swedish and English) that last for an hour. I would highly recommend this as a great way to learn more about the island and its history. Just go to the visitor centre and pay for your ticket there (Adult 6€, Children 3€).
Besides the guided tour there are also several museums on the island and exhibitions of arts and craft.
For more information check out my Suomenlinna travelogue.
Suomenlinna fortress was built on an small island in 1748 in order to protect Helsinki from Russian attacks. But in vain...in 1809 it fell to the Russians following a siege. After independence the Finnish Navy took over and it's still present nowadays.
Apart from that it makes for a great day out of town. There are few museums there, a couple of cafés and even a hostel.
Boats to Suomenlinna leave from Kauppatori between early morning and late night.
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 history of this island and fortress is quite long and interesting. The Swedish started building the fortress here in 1748 to prevent Russian expansion. But sixty years later it surrendered to the Russians almost without a fight and now Suomenlinna was to defend Russia against Sweden. After Finland got its independence the fortress changed into a prison camp for the Reds who lost the civil war. Only in 1973 did it finally receive a civilian administration.
The place was included in the Unesco World Heritage list in 1991.
Nowadays the island has about 900 inhabitants who have there a health centre, primary school, shop and a library.
There's a regular ferry-boat connection to the island. The normal city-traffic tickets are also valid on a ferry-boat.
It's a popular place both with inhabitants of Helsinki and tourists for a day out and a picnic.
My day in Helsinki has come to an end. I am back on the ferry again, resting my tired feet and enjoying the views from the top deck. On our way out of Helsinki we pass the Suommenlinna. The Suommenlinna (or Sveaborg as it was originally called) is one of the largest sea fortresses and it is located about 1 kilometre off the coast from Helsinki. Construction of this huge fortress began under the command of Augustin Ehrensvärd in 1748. The site is now on the UNESCO World Heritage List and a must see if you have more than one day in Helsinki.
Unfortunately I didn't have the time to visit the Suomenlinna, but that leaves something to desire for a next visit to Helsinki. For me the Suomenlinna is an absolute must see, and I was happy to at least see it briefly from the ferry. Hopefully next time I can see it for 'real'.
The opening hours for the different parts of the Suomenlinna is rather complicated. Here is a link where you can find a good overview of them: Opening hours
You can find all you want to know about the Suomenlinna (Sveaborg) on this website: Suomenlinna
On sunny day it's just wonderful to hop on the ferry that takes you to Suomenlinna, the Finnish fortress from the 18th century, which is situated on an island at Helsinki Harbour.
Suomenlinna was established to protect Finland from invaders but was was handed over to the Russians during the war in 1808.
Today a museum, wonderful beaches, a few restaurants and coffeplaces can be found on the island.
Ah, by the way: Suomenlinna is a regular 'suburb' of Helsinki. People live and work there and if you want to use the ferry from the market Square to get there a simple tram ticket will do.
The day I went to Suomenlinna is unforgettable. It was a bright, sunny day of July. We arrived there by a ferry-boat, it's not very long and at the same time, you can see the hundreds of islands. Suomenlinna is a fortress and it is on the UNESCO'S list. It was built during the Swedish period. Suomenlinna isn't just a museum, about 900 people live on the island. I am a history fanatic, so being there was wonderful to me. I explored the old corridors which are underground. There are many of them on the island, you just have to find them! You can also take a tour guide, but I prefered to be alone. It is also a great place to do a pic-nic.
I spend a calm day hiking on the isle and knowing some of the finnish history, which you may consider is something new for a brazilian turist...
Durinig the ferry-boat trip to the isle you can take very good pictures from Helsinki! Do not miss it!
i personally think that one of the most interesting tourist sites in helsinki is the suomenlinna island fortress. it was built in 1748 by the military architect augustin ehrensvard in order to protect helsinki from russian invasion. during this time finland was under swedish control. there are a number of interesting stone fortifications on the island as well as some great views of helsinki harbour. there are restaurants and a couple of museums on the island. suomenlinna is a short ferry ride from kaippatori (market square) in central helsinki.
(1) a must-visit place in Helsinki
(2) dont go on a sunday, most restaurants and galleries are closed, if you really have to go on a Sunday and with tight budget, bring food along
(3) if the queue for ferry boat is too long, dont waste time queuing, the ticket is available on the boat
(4) toilet is everywhere in the island (almost every 100 stpes), you'lll be amazed.
(5) go on autumn, it is beutiful.