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.

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

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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

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A private beach and private boats.

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

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

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How the cannons are positioned. At tourists.

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

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And then two hangliders appeared. Hanglider 1…

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and his buddy Hanglider 2.

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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.

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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.

Northland

Helsinki Football Fields

Eleven pm. July 23rd. Helsinki overlooking a soccer pitch. The skies are artificially dark due to weather. Moments after I took this, the street lights came on. I love the north.