Sunday on Suomenlinna

The view from Suomenlinna

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.

The quay at Suomenlinna

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.

Fortifications and cannons

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.

Suomenlinna Church

By | 2017-05-20T12:29:03+00:00 March 18th, 2012|Inspirations, News|4 Comments


  1. admin April 9, 2012 at 5:31 am

    Thank you, Martha, for pointing out my mistake in identifying the church! Of course you are correct and I am more experienced in Helsinki now. 🙂 Alas, I won’t be here when the lilacs bloom! I will have to be satisfied with the crocus. But I have enjoyed this push and pull of spring, with snow one day and melting the next. By the way, I will post very soon about Pasila Library, which is wonderful!

  2. Martha April 8, 2012 at 4:34 pm

    I’m glad you’re enjoying Helsinki. Don’t loose heart. Spring does come and the lilacs on Suomenlinna (Some bushes said to be over 100 years old) are hypnotically beautiful.

    A tiny correction: the white church tower you see behind the Viking line ships is the Lutheren Cathedral. The Orthodox Uspensky – directly behind the ships and not visible in your photo is built of red brick. All of the island that it’s on, Katajanokka – is a fascinating museum of Jugend style archictecture. Go & have a walkaround when you get a minute.

  3. admin March 21, 2012 at 2:02 pm

    I shall endeavour to find out!

  4. pablo March 21, 2012 at 10:43 am

    Great blog and lovely pics…what’s the hot salmon soup like??

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