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Helsinki is surrounded by numerous islands. The best known island group is Suomenlinna. Thanks to many well-preserved historic buildings, a visit there is like travelling back in time. One of the biggest attractions is the 18th century fort that became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1991.
The ferry crossing from the Helsinki harbour to the island takes approximately 20 minutes. Along the way you will enjoy lovely views of the city, the large ships and several small islands, both inhabited and uninhabited. Suomenlinna is home to approximately 900 people. The island boasts a vast network of walking trails, restaurants, shops and even a beach.
With its 6 museums, Suomenlinna is a popular destination for museum lovers. The Suomenlinna Museum hosts a video presentation about the construction of the fort, the battles that took place here and daily life on the island. Housed in the former residence of the army commander, the Ehrensvärd Museum in the courtyard of the fort has a beautifully restored interior. The collection includes models of ships, weapons and various paintings of the 18th-century Suomenlinna.
Children will have a great time at the Toy museum, packed with trains, model soldiers, doll houses and other toys. The oldest pieces of the collection date back to the beginning of the 19th century. A museum in itself, the Vesikko submarine from 1933 is a very popular attraction. After the Second World War, the Treaty of Paris prohibited Finland from having any submarines. All vessels were destroyed except for the Vesikko. Suomenlinna also features a Military Museum and a Customs Museum.
“History, culture and nature of Suomenlinna”
Construction of the fort began in 1748 to protect the country against the Russians, back in the days when Sweden ruled Finland. The fort was originally called Sveaborg (‘Swedish Fortress’). A few years later, the impressive King’s Gate was added to commemorate a visit by Swedish king Adolf Fredrik. However, the fort was just not enough to keep the Russians at bay and in 1808 Finland was conquered. More than a century later, Finland declared itself independent and the fort finally became Finnish property. The name practically speaks for itself: Suomenlinna (Finnish fort).
During the construction of the fort on Suomenlinna, wooden houses were built for the soldiers and officers; these are still inhabited or have been converted to studios, restaurants or art galleries. In the last few decades, Suomenlinna has become a pleasant car-free outpost of Helsinki. Residents of the Finnish capital flock here for a cultural outing, a picnic, a walk or a day on the beach.