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Suomenlinna (Sveaborg) fortress, Helsinki


Sea ice!

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.


Uspenski Cathedral

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.


Suomenlinna from the ferry

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.


It’s hard to imagine wanting to swim at that beach!

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.


The submarine


A pheasant!

We spent some time playing on and around the canons.


We all enjoyed climbing on and over these canons

And tried not to shiver as it began to snow.


We thought this bunker looked like a Hobbit house!

We had a look at the 1:500 scale model of the fortress as it was in the early 19th century.


View out to sea from the fortress

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.


The fortifications are attractive

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.


The building to the left houses the Suomenlinna museum



View towards Helsinki from the ferry



4 comments on “Suomenlinna (Sveaborg) fortress, Helsinki

  1. Little Miss Traveller
    March 29, 2016

    We visit here every year, it looks very different in the summertime!

    • strivetoengage
      March 29, 2016

      I’m sure that it does! Wow, it’s amazing that you travel to Finland each year. Do you find that it’s expensive? I looked on your blog for some posts from Finland but didn’t find any…

      • Little Miss Traveller
        March 29, 2016

        We rent an apartment so its not too expensive and we mostly travel round using a metro card that covers buses, trains, trams and the Suomenlinna ferry. I only started writing my blog in August last year, a couple of weeks after we returned from Finland so decided to wait until my visit there this summer to write about this lovely country. So, I’ll definitely be writing posts on my holiday diary during my visit in July.

  2. Suvi
    March 29, 2016

    You should see the bunkers in summer – they look exactly like Hobbit houses 😀

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This entry was posted on March 29, 2016 by in Europe, family and tagged , , , , .
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