Saturday, 7 September 2013

Cruiseferries Silja Serenade and Gabriella in the Kustaanmiekka strait in Helsinki

Tallink's Silja Serenade and Viking Line's Gabriella are two of the cruiseferries on the route Helsinki - Stockholm. On Wednesday evening (September 4) I photographed the ferries as they sailed through the Kustaanmiekka strait in the Helsinki archipelago on their way from the Finnish capital to Stockholm.




PS (September 10)

I added this picture of a Helsinki pilot boat entering the Kustaanmiekka strait:

Rooftops of Helsinki

Helsinki, the capital of Finland, is a fascinating city for anybody interested in architecture. Different styles - Neo-Classical (Empire), Art Nouveau (Jugend), Neo-Gothic, Neo-Renaissance, National Romanticism, Functionalism, Modernism - create an enjoyable and happy mix, particularly in the city centre and adjoining areas.

When I visit a city, I always begin with studying the rooftops. Below is a small collection of rooftop images from my visit to Helsinki this week. Most of the photos of residential house roofs are shot in Kajanokka  and Kruununhaka, where you can find a great number of Art Nouveau style buildings.


The classic cruise liner Boudicca in Helsinki

The Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines ship MV Boudicca, here photographed in Helsinki on September 4, was originally built in 1973 by the Wärtsilä Helsinki shipyard as Royal Viking Sky. In 1982 she was lengthened from the original 177.70 metres to 205.47 metres. Having sailed under several other names, the ship was in 2005 bought and renamed by the current owners.

The Boudicca, which was refitted in 2011, has 462 cabins for 880 passengers, and a crew of 329.


The Finnish pollution control and vehicle transport ship Halli in Helsinki

Halli (899), here photographed in Helsinki's Southern Harbour on September 4, is a combined pollution control and vehicle transport vessel. The 61.5 m x 12.8 m civilian manned ship is owned by the Ministry of Environment, but operated by the Finnish Navy. Halli, built by the Rauma based Hollming shipyard in 1986, was refitted in 2010.


Friday, 6 September 2013

Helsinki - A City Surrounded by the Sea

One of the Viking Line ferries arrives at the Helsinki Southern Harbour. The best
way to arrive in Helsinki is by boat.

"Helsingfors (Helsinki) is almost completely surrounded by water. On the west, the south and the east it is washed by the waters of the Gulf of Finland, and on the north it is almost cut off from the mainland by the Tölö creek."

A. Maccallum Scott, M.P.
"Through Finland to St. Petersburg" (1908)

The Scottish politician and author A. Maccallum Scott visited Finland and Helsinki (Helsingfors in Swedish) in the beginning of the 20th century. His travels resulted in a little book, "Through Finland to St. Petersburg", which served as a excellent introduction to Finland and its capital for several decades. As a matter of fact, many of Scott's observations are relevant even today.

The closeness to the sea is, at least for me, Helsinki's most fascinating feature.

Below is a selection of images from last weekend of some of my favourite places in the Finnish capital. The captions with citation marks are from Maccallum Scott's book.

"Helsingfors is one of the most interesting towns in Europe. In spite of its rapid
growth, it is still, comparatively, a small town. Nevertheless, its note note is
metropolitan rather than provincial. --
"The pulse of life and action beats as strongly in it as it does across the
Atlantic. Helsingfors is, in fact, in many ways more American than European."

An evening view of the Market Square. The building second from the left is
the Embassy of Sweden.
"The ships are moored at the quay close to the Salutorget or Market Square, and the
principal hotels are situated close at hand. (The blue building in the middle is
the City Hall, which was a hotel at the time of Maccallum Scott's visit.)

"The Esplanade is as wide as the market-place itself - it is, in fact, more of a
park than of a street. A broad expanse of trees and garden and lawn, with
promenades, separates the houses on the 'Norra' and 'Södra' sides right along its length.
The end of the promenade next to the market-place is occupied by the Kapellet Restaurant,
which in summer  has its tables set out under the shade of the trees."
Relandersgrund, the oldest lightship in Finland (built in 1888 ), now serves as a
cafeteria and interior shop in Helsinki.

"Senate Square is the architectural centre of Helsingfors. Round it are grouped
some of the most stately examples of classic art with which Engel, the father
of Finnish architecture, enriched the town between 1820 and 1840."
"In the centre of the Square is the elaborate Memorial to Alexander II., the Grand Duke
and Emperor, who above all others, has endeared himself to the Finns."
"The Church of St. Nicholas (now the Helsinki Cathedral) is built upon the top
of a great ridge of granite which projects 59 feet above the surface of the square.
The cross, which surmounts the centre dome, is 233 feet above the level of the
sea; and the dome itself affords a vantage point from which a fine view is
obtained of the town, the surrounding country, and the far-stretching archipelago."
A closer look at the Memorial to Alexander II.

"Helsingfors has numerous fine public parks and gardens. The Brunnspark
(Kaivopuisto) at the extreme south of the peninsula, is beautifully wooded, and,
in parts, very rugged. One can reach it in five minutes by train from the
Market Square."

The southernmost end of the peninsula offers spectacular views for joggers.

"No visitor should leave Helsingfors without having explored the beautifully
wooded islands which are scattered so thickly along the shore of the Gulf, the
Skärgård, as they are called. Numerous small steamers ply among them. During
the summer almost every family which can afford it has a  cottage on one of the
islands, and the little steamers make their rounds among these islands suburbs, for
all the world like the Hampstead bus."

The Helsinki archipelago is always worth a visit.

The clubhouse of Finland's oldest yacht club, NJK, is a landmark in Helsinki's
Southern Harbour.

"In the observatory grounds, overlooking the harbour,
is the sculptor Stigell's fine bronze group representing
'The Shipwreck'."

"About the middle of its eastern side a peninsula, the narrow neck of which is
cut by a canal, juts out into the sea. This is Skatudden (Katajanokka in Finnish), one of the most modern
quarters of the town, covered with large blocks of flats of the most bizarre
architecture, and containing also the Russian church, the Customs House, the
Mint, the Prison, and the Barracks."

"The Russian Cathedral, 'Uspenski Sobor','Church of the Assumption', which attracts all
eyes by its brilliant red and gold colouring, is situated on a height on the Skatudden, just
 across the bridge. The richly decorated Russian church was built in 1868 by
 the Russian architect Gornostaief."

A view of Skatudden (Katajanokka) from the Northern Harbour.

The Helsinki Music Centre is one of the newest architectural additions to the
Helsinki city centre.
This is one of the Suomenlinna (Sveaborg) ferries. I will return to the historic
sea fortress in another blog post.

"But, on a nearer view, Helsingfors displays a very clearly marked and vivid
personality of its own - a strange freakish personality that is alien to the rest of
Europe, something that suggests the Japanese, or the Oriental, or the Egyptian.
It rises from the sea like an enchanted palace on the pages of a fairy book."