I arrived after what seemed three very long flights via Toronto and Vienna to a beautiful day. After checking into the hotel, I went for a walk around the city to get my bearings. I have been here twice but both times were over ten years ago. The next morning brought rain, but a group of us set off with a guide to do a walking tour of the historical district. We ended up in what is now called the Design District where about two hundred businesses of various kinds featuring Finnish design are located. Friday evening I went to a free concert by the British Youth Chamber Orchestra held in the Temple Church. This church is a landmark in Helsinki. It was carved out of the rock at a bomb site. It is circular with the walls being rough granite and the wooden roof is held up by the windows. The acoustics are excellent so it is often used for concerts. The program featured Handel, Grieg, Sibelius , of course, and Elgar and it was quite enjoyable. Saturday the sun returned and I headed off by local ferry to Suomenlinna sea fortress. Construction of the fortress began in 1748 when Finland was part of Sweden. The guns are from 19th century Russian rule. The island is now under civil administration and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1991. It is one of the largest fortresses of its kind in the world. Tomorrow we head off by train to St Petersburg to board our river boat for the cruise to Moscow.
The pictures below are of the Lutheran Cathedral with the statue of Alexander II in Senate Square, the guns at Suomenlinna and the Temple Church with the orchestra.