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The City of Helsinki is the capital of Finland. Facing the Baltic Sea, it commands busy transit on its pier, ferry boats and marina. Helsingfors is the city's official Swedish name, Helsinki is its Finnish. In local slang it is called Stadi, and Hesa in colloquial Finnish.
Helsinki covers numerous islands, peninsula and bays. The city center is on the southern part of Finland, and the rest extends to the small islands across the sea. The islands off the southern coast of Helsinki house a number of restaurants connected with yacht clubs, including NJK, Klippan, Särkänlinna, Uunisaari, Boathouse and Saari. These island restaurants are unique summer treasures where visitors can spend long evenings enjoying great food and spectacular scenery.

A short history of Helsinki

At the command of Gustavus Wasa, the King of Sweden, Helsinki was built at the mouth of the River Vantaa in 1550. The King ordered the burghers from Rauma, Ulvila, Porvoo and Tammisaari to move to Helsinki. The new town was supposed to compete for Russian trade with the town of Tallinn on the opposite shore of the Gulf of Finland.
For a long time, Helsinki grew very slowly. In the hope of attaining a better harbour, Helsinki was relocated further south to its current location by the open sea in the mid-17th century.

In the 18th century, Helsinki had to face great ordeals: war, plague and famine. The Russians invaded Helsinki during the Greater Wrath lasting from 1713 to 1721, and again in 1742. Fortification of Helsinki became a priority of the Swedish defence policy.
In 1748, the construction of a sea fortress at Suomenlinna, which is among the largest in Europe, was begun. The fortress was then known as the Gibraltar of the North. The fortress is currently a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it received the Europa Nostra award in 2000.

As a result of a war between Sweden and Russia, Finland was annexed as an autonomous Grand Duchy of the Russian Empire. Helsinki was made the capital of the Grand Duchy in 1812, after which the historical Empire-style centre was built around Helsinki Cathedral. The country¿s only university was moved from Turku to Helsinki in 1827.

In the late 19th century, Helsinki grew rapidly and developed into a modern European city. Transport links important for an industrial town were created by building railroads to Hämeenlinna in 1862 and to St Petersburg in 1870. The population exceeded the 100,000-inhabitant mark at the beginning of the 20th century.

Finland became independent in 1917 and ever since Helsinki has been the capital of the Republic of Finland.
During the Second World War, Helsinki had to endure several large-scale bombings by the Soviet Union. The city survived these thanks to its efficient air defence.
After the war, large areas, even whole neighbouring municipalities, were annexed to Helsinki. Helsinki has grown into a continuously developing Nordic city with half a million inhabitants. (Source: Helsinki.fi & visithelsinki.fi)

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Additional Photos by George Rumpler (Budapestman) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 8900 W: 3 N: 20435] (82620)
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