Suomenlinna or Sveaborg in Swedish is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It’s an inhabited sea fortress built on the few islands in the 18th century, when Finland was still part of Sweden. Suomenlinna is my absolute favorite place in Helsinki! You can play outdoors games here, explore the fortress, have a picturesque picnic or take the sun and simply enjoy the beauty around you. There are also museums, craft shops, restaurants and summer theater.
For me personally trip to Suomenlinna is like a mini-adventure on a budget. Public transport ticket doesn’t cost much, and you can take food and drinks with you or purchase necessary items from the local food market.
I like to walk all over islands, climb the highest hills, make pictures of the wonderful architecture and of course the sea view.
I also love to explore tunnels of the old fortress, imagining that I am a female version of Indiana Jones on a mission. Oh yes, being a little girl, I thought that Indiana Jones is exactly who I want to be when I grow up (it was before I discovered a horrifying thing called reality).
But this time we came here for a different reason. Keeping in mind that our museum cards will expire soon, we decided to use a little time we have left and check out the museums of the sea fortress.
We started our journey with… a church. Not really a museum though but anyways. Suomenlinna Church was originally built as an Eastern Orthodox church for the Russian troopers in 1854 (that time Suomenlinna was occupied by Russian Empire). That’s how it looked then (photo is taken from the Suomenlinna Official Website):
During the Finnish era it was converted into an Evangelical-Lutheran church. And now it looks like this:
But what makes Suomenlinna church really special is that it’s one of the few churches in the world that is used also as a lighthouse. Its Morse code blinks stand for the letter H (Helsinki).
Nowadays it’s a very popular venue for weddings.
After that we visited Military museum, Suomenlinna museum and Customs museum. I highly recommend visiting Suomenlinna museum. Here they show a short film (available in nine languages) that tells about Suomenlinna Sea Fortress. Two hundred and fifty years of history in less than half an hour! I wish they would make so interesting and informative films when I was in school! It’s such an easy and fast way to learn history.
Tomb of Augustin Ehrensvärd, Swedish military officer, military architect and founder of the Sveaborg fortress:
Just beside his tomb is located the Ehrensvärd museum. Its building was used as the commander’s residence until 1855. Museum’s collection includes furniture, clothing, paintings, weapons and ship models.
Next stop – submarine Vesikko:
It was used in the World War II. After the war Finnish Defense Forces, according to the Paris Peace Treaty, were forbidden to have any submarines, so Finnish submarines were scraped. All, except Vesikko. It was disarmed and kept in the storage for decades. It was restored and turned into a museum. And in 1973 it was finally opened for public.
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We were quite hungry by the time we were done, so we decided to have dinner in one of the local restaurants.
This restaurant is famous for its salmon soup:
Flavorous smoked salmon soup with fresh crunchy bread was a great way to finish our museum tour. It was so good that I had to take a second portion of this deliciousness!
Before heading to the ferry we made a quick stop at the dry dock.
It was constructed in the 18th century and was used for building ships for Swedish navy. And in the 20th century the first Finnish airplanes were built here! It is the oldest dry dock in Finland and one of the oldest operational dry docks in Europe. Nowadays the dock area is used as a storage during winter and as a repair facility for old wooden sailing ships in the summer.
On our way to Kauppatori (Helsinki Market square):
Hope you enjoyed it!