The fog lifted and the sun came out this morning. For the first time, I saw Helsinki under crystal blue skies and realised how close it is to Suomenlinna. Helsinki is a low-rise city. The Russian Orthodox church pictured next to the two Viking Line ships is one of the tallest buildings on the skyline. I watched the trucks loading onto the ferries bound for Stockholm and could actually hear the clanks and bumps from across the water.
Suomenlinna is one of the quietest places I’ve been in some time. There are only a few cars, which one hardly sees, and the loudest noise I’ve heard is the toot of the ferry horn as it passes nearby. But over the last two hundred years, as a Swedish and then Russian military fortress covered in cannons and fortifications, it can’t always have been so quiet. I climbed around the shoreline, enjoying the warmth and listening to the crunch of the sea ice breaking up. I was intrigued by dark tunnel entrances and windows in stone walls, but left that exploration for another day when the snow and ice recedes a bit more.
Even Suomenlinna Church, built as a Russian Orthodox garrison church when Finland was controlled by Russia, has old cannons forming an eccentric fence around it. The church doubles as a lighthouse for sea and air traffic.
Suomenlinna is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It’s such a great privilege to be here, attuning myself to the island’s rhythms and watching it shed its white winter coat day by day.