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On the afternoon of Thursday 24th March we walked to Market Square in Helsinki to catch the ferry to the huge sea fortress of Suomenlinna.
We missed the ferry by 2 minutes and had to wait one hour for the next ferry. It was cold and almost snowing so we walked up to see the cathedral on the hill but it was closed. Instead we visited a cosy café and enjoyed a coffee for us and a sandwich with excellent Parma ham for our children.
We caught the next ferry and sat inside to look at the view on the 15 minute ride. On the island we visited the toilets in the visitor centre before heading along the main path up the island. The fortress is very extensive and has attractive star shaped fortifications. It is world heritage listed with UNESCO.
Considering that we’ve been living in Trondheim, Norway since July you’d think that snow and ice wouldn’t hold any attraction for us but you’d be wrong. Our children (6 and 8) happily played with the snow and threw snow balls at us and played with the sea ice.
The Finnish submarine fleet had to be scrapped after WWII (imposed upon Finland) and the only submarine not scrapped has been placed on Suomenlinna as a museum. It’s only open in the summer but we were lucky that a science fiction film was being filmed in there and our 6 year old son was allowed to go in and have a look.
We spent some time playing on and around the canons.
And tried not to shiver as it began to snow.
We had a look at the 1:500 scale model of the fortress as it was in the early 19th century.
The Swedish monarchy started the construction of the fortress in 1748 to protect Helsinki from Russian expansionism. Despite the fortress being very large and well planned in 1808 when the Russians did attack, the fortress was mysteriously surrendered to Russia, leading to the occupation of Finland by Russian forces in 1809.
Our children found ways to enjoy themselves at Suomenlinna. I think it would be a nice place to have a picnic in summer. My friend was married there and the wildflowers in her wedding photos are beautiful. In early Spring the cafés are closed and we didn’t travel with a thermos so it was less pleasant being snowed on than is ideal. In the end we ran to catch the 1620 ferry back to Helsinki rather than shiver for another 40 minutes on the island.