Suomenlinna Island

On my first full day in Finland, I took the ferry to Suomenlinna Island. It is about a 15 minute ferry ride from central Helsinki and the ride is covered by a public transit pass.

Suomenlinna Island is an old fort, back from the days when the Swedish controlled Finland. Building was started in 1748. The fort was to protect Helsinki from invasion by sea. When the Russians took control of Finland, they too enjoyed the power of the fort. During the Finnish Civil War, the fort served as a prison camp. Currently the island has about 900 civilian residents. Suomi is the Finnish word for Finland and Linna means lion, so the fort was named Finnish Lion. But in Swedish it is Sveaborg. It is now a popular site for picnics and afternoons out. it is also a UNESCO Heritage Site.

I’ve included my favorite pictures from my afternoon below.

The ferry on the way to the Island.

IMG 0096

As the ferry approaches the Island, the church is easily spotted.

IMG 0100

The churches in Finland (all two that I visited) were much simpler than most other European churches. This is probably because they are Protestant, not Catholic, but it was very interesting to see the simple interiors.

IMG 0104

Outside the church is also relatively simple. Just right for a small island church.

IMG 0165

I’m unsure if Open Prison means that anyone can be imprisoned or if it means something else. I’m rooting for the something else.

IMG 0108

A private home on the Island. Covered with ivy and glorious flowering windowboxes. After I took this, the man came out of the house and started tending the flowers.

IMG 0109

The Island is actually six Islands. Here you can see two of them.

IMG 0114

While the parts of the Island you first walk through are not fort-like, as you get deeper into the island, you see more and more evidence of the fort. It starts about the same place as you cross the first bridge.

IMG 0115

The walls are really impressive. This one is about 6 feet deep and there were lots (comparatively speaking) of windows. I assume they were for shooting.

IMG 0127

The fortress I am in the above picture. I think the walking tunnel was about 30 feet deep.

IMG 0128

A private beach and private boats.

IMG 0130

A public beach. Bathers were running around on the rocks and jumping into the sea.

IMG 0133

Then the cannons appeared. Not to hit the bathers… GIANT CANNON.

IMG 0138

How the cannons are positioned. At tourists.

IMG 0143

There were also all these little berms which I assume were hideouts.

IMG 0140

And then two hangliders appeared. Hanglider 1…

IMG 0160

and his buddy Hanglider 2.

IMG 0155

As I walked back to the ferry, I noticed a rock wall with fireweed growing out of it. Fireweed is my favorite flower and almost impossible to find in the lower 48. It made me smile.

IMG 0164

I enjoyed my couple of hours on Suomenlinna and I would highly recommend the museum and video of the history of the fort. Perhaps next time I’ll even consider staying at the Youth Hostel on the Island.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *