You can not spend all your traveling days in the big city, so off we go to Suomenlinna Island. Although it is a short 10 min. ferry ride from central Helsinki, it feels like you are a long way away from the hustle and bustle of the city center. We deliberately waited until the weather prediction was perfect (60ish) and it was! We then joined the locals on Suomenlinna Island, the site of a fort built in 1748 to defend Sweden from Russia. Later it was captured by the Russians and used to defend against the British, then as a prison during the Finnish Civil War. Finland’s history is pretty complicated, we’re just getting a handle on it now. All that fighting is done now, so the fort is a park and several historical museums.
Below are a few photos we took from the ferry, and then some beautiful landscape photos. We wandered off the main path through the island, and caught beautiful sights that you would miss if you didn’t wander around.
There are six museums on the island, but true to our interests, we skipped several and focused on the ones of historical interest. The Suomenlinna Museum had a short film charting the island’s past and runs every half an hour. Well worth seeing, I might add! It helped us get a better handle on Finish history. Our favorite museums were the Manege of the Military Museum and the Vesikko submarine. Below are a few photos from the museums we explored.
The first photo is of a uniform of the women’s auxiliary force from WWII. The Finns will tell you (repeatedly) that is NOT the Nazi swastika, it’s the Finnish swastika. Even though Finland fought on the German side in the war, the official story is that they were fighting against the Russians, not for Germany. The full story may never be known. The submarine is a Finnish one built in the 1930s that served in WWII. It has been fully restored, and yes it was very claustrophobic to me (Maggie). Clay thought it must have been hot, noisy and smelly on the inside. Only men were on board, women are too smart for that service I think.
If you find your self in Helsinki, I would recommend spending a day on the island. We spend about 8 hrs on the island including hiking, eating at one of several cafes on the island, as well as exploring some of the museums.