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Helsinki, Finland


52nd Day


The area of present day Finland was settled around 7000 BC. From the 11th century, Christian missionaries were active in Finland. In the 13th century, Sweden conquered Finland and by the 14th century, the Swedish conquest of Finland completed. Finland became a fully consolidated part of Swedish Kingdom and Swedish language and culture were spread. During the Protestant Reformation, the Finns gradually converted to Lutheranism. In the 16th century, Mikael Agricola published the first written works in Finnish, which characterized Finland as Lutheran country. Finland suffered severely in the recurring wars between Sweden and Russia. By the Treaty of Nystad which was concluded to end the Great Northern War from the year 1700 to 1721, a part of the Finnish territory was ceded to Russia. After the Sweden’s defeat in the Napoleonic War, Russia conquered Finland and annexed it in 1809. Finland became an autonomous Grand Duchy in the Russian Empire until the end of 1917. In the chaos of the Russian Revolution, Finland declared its independence in 1917. After the ensuing civil war between the leftist Red Guard supported by Soviet troops and the conservative Finnish-nationalist White Guard led by Marshal Mannerheim with the aid of German troops, in which White Guard was victorious, Finland became a presidential republic in 1919. The political instability remained through 1920’s and 1930’s. During World War II, Finland fought three wars against the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany. During the cold war, Finland took a neutral stance. Finland has also been ranked the second most stable country in the world and the first in the 2009 Legatum Prosperity rating.

It was a fine day today, too.
The city of Helsinki was beautiful. All the buildings along the coast line looked like fashionable apartments.
I made a plan to visit Suomenlinna. It was Sunday, so most shops were closed. Among them, a department store, some restaurants and souvenir shops were open. But they were to be closed earlier than usual, on 6 p.m.

*DMC-ZS10/TZ20 records images in max.14-megapixel and DMC-ZS7/TZ10 in max.12-megapixel.

It took 15 minutes to Suomenlinna by ferry boat.
Suomenlinna had a kind of atmosphere of a tourist site or country town, not the site registered as the World Heritage. I walked around an area, believing I was in the sightseeing area, but found myself in an apartment area, and soon, I encountered the remains of cave or fortress. It made me feel something strange. Then I came across a music festival which was held on a regular basis such as once a month or so. I enjoyed following the marching band from the festival site, which led me to the site where I started to follow.

The deeper I came into the island, the more remains of cannons and fortresses there were. Finally, Suomenlinna offered me the historic atmosphere! I spent three hours in four islands which consisted of Suomenlinna.

I went back to the city of Helsinki, and had light lunch in the market. My next destination was the Helsinki Cathedral.
When I saw it on a post card sold in a souvenir shop, it seemed like a kind of composite. Visiting an actual site of the Cathedral, I realized it was a real photo. Surrounded by a large place, the Helsinki Cathedral was built on the terrace a little higher up. My photos, too, seemed to be composed with a beautiful sky in background. 
According to my guidebook, summer is short and it rains or cloudy in most of a year around here just like Russia I visited yesterday. I heard it was rare the clear days continued as it was for these days. Many of the local people in Suomenlinna enjoyed sunbathing in their short summer.

I headed to the Temppeliaukio Church next. The church was relatively new, built in 1969. It is designed to be built into the rock and called the Rock Church by the local people.
I took a tram to go to the church but I was not quite sure where to get off. I was at a loss for finding the right station to get off, then a woman sitting next to me called to me.
She kindly told me at which station I got off, how to get off the tram and how to go to the church.
Visiting several countries, I found that there were many people in the northern Europe who were ready to help, sometimes seemed to be even meddlesome. I was often asked “May I help you?” when I just had a troubled face. It was very nice of the northern European countries!
The roof of the Temppeliaukio Church was made of concrete and constructed to be supported by a numerous slim beams. I was impressed that the large lump of concrete was supported by such slim beams. Its design won the architectural competition. It was really worth it.

The recital of perhaps a local singer was held by chance, which I appreciated for a while. Today being Sunday, on the one hand it was sad that many shops were closed, but on the other hand, I could enjoy many events held on Sunday.

After visiting the church, I looked around the soon-to-be-shuttered shops nearby (most of the shops were to be closed at 6 p.m.). As I had bought a one-day pass of the tram, I took a tram without specific purpose for killing time. After a while, I got to Uspenski Cathedral. Unfortunately, it was already closed at 3 p.m. because being Sunday. I had no choice but to see it from outside. According to the guidebook, it was also beautiful inside the church. I felt bad about Sunday!

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