Russian Grand Duchy

History of Finland between 1809 - 1917

The Grand Duchy of Finland (literally Grand Principality of Finland) was the predecessor state of modern Finland. It existed 1809–1917 as part of the Russian Empire and was ruled by the Russian Emperor as Grand Prince. During the Finnish War between Sweden and Russia, the four Estates of occupied Finland were assembled at the Diet of Porvoo on March 29, 1809 to pledge allegiance to Alexander I of Russia who in return guaranteed that the laws and liberties as well as religion would be left unchanged. Following the Swedish defeat in the war and the signing of the Treaty of Fredrikshamn on September 17, 1809, Finland became a true autonomous grand principality, a constitutional monarchy within the autocratic Russian Empire although the usual balance of power between monarch and diet resting on taxation was not in place since the Emperor could rely on the rest of his vast Empire. The title "Grand Prince of Finland" was added to the long list of titles of the Russian Tsar. After his return to Finland in 1812, the Finnish-born Gustaf Mauritz Armfelt became councillor to the Russian emperor. Armfeldt was instrumental in securing the Grand Principality as an entity with relatively greater autonomy within the Russian realm, and for regaining the so-called Old Finland that was lost to Russia in the Treaty of Nystad in 1721.

The history of the Grand Principality can briefly be characterised as:

The constitutional status of Finland was not codified in Russian law before the February Manifesto of 1899, by which time Finns and Russians had developed quite different ideas about the status of Finland. The autonomy of Finland was at first encouraged by the Russians in part due to the relatively developed governmental structures in Finland (as compared to the emperor-centered Russia of early 19th century) and in part as a deliberate policy of goodwill to win over the minds of the Finnish people. The autonomous status led Finns to develop their own ideas of nationalism and constitutional monarchy, which they could to a large extent implement in practice with the assent of the Tsar. However, while each tsar at the time of his coronation did agree to uphold the special status of the local laws in Finland, there is no evidence that they understood their position as one of a constitutional monarch, despite the growing prevalence of such an interpretation in Finland in the latter part of the 19th century. As governmental organizations developed in Russia, and unity of the empire became one of the leading tenets of Russian politics, clashes between the Russian and Finnish governmental organizations grew frequent and led to the attempted russification.

Finland nevertheless enjoyed a high degree of autonomy, until its independence in 1917. In 1917, after the February Revolution in Russia, Finland's government worked towards securing and perhaps even increasing Finland's autonomy in domestic matters. On December 6, 1917, shortly after the October Revolution in Russia, Finland declared its independence. After the Finnish Civil War, which led to a temporary majority of monarchists in the parliament, Prince Frederick Charles of Hesse was elected the new monarch as king instead of grand prince, marking the new status of the nation, but he never reigned, as a republic was proclaimed.

References: Wikipedia

Popular sites founded between 1809 and 1917 in Finland

Helsinki Cathedral

Helsinki Cathedral is a distinct landmark in the scenery of central Helsinki, with a tall green dome surrounded by four smaller domes. It was built in 1830–1852 in neoclassical style to replace an earlier church from 1727. The cathedral was designed by Carl Ludvig Engel, to form the climax of the whole Senate Square laid out by Engel, surrounded by a number of buildings all designed by him.Today the cathedral is one ...
Founded: 1830-1852 | Location: Helsinki, Finland

Tampere Art Museum

The Tampere Art Museum was established in 1931. It was founded by the Tampere Art Society which had already been collecting art and arranging art exhibitions in Tampere since the beginning of the last century.The museum is renowned for its active exhibition policy, especially exhibitions presenting ancient cultures, wide-ranging publication activities, the Young Artist of the Year event and Moominvalley, which can be foun ...
Founded: 1838 (Art Museum 1931) | Location: Tampere, Finland

The National Museum of Finland

The National Museum of Finland presents Finnish history from the Stone Age to the present day, through objects and cultural history. The permanent exhibitions of the National Museum are divided into six parts. The Treasure Troves presents the collections of coins, medals, orders and decorations, silver, jewellery and weapons. Prehistory of Finland is the largest permanent archeological exhibition in Finland. The Realm pre ...
Founded: 1905-1910 | Location: Helsinki, Finland

Tampere City Hall

Tampere neo-renaissance city hall was built in 1890 and was designed by Georg Schreck. At first all city bureaus were located to the city hall. During the Great Strike in 1905, the so-called "Red Manifest" was read from the balcony of the Tampere City Hall. The manifest was drawn up on behalf of the strike committee by several leaders of the Finnish Social Democrats. Among the demands made in the manifest were the resigna ...
Founded: 1890 | Location: Tampere, Finland

Senate Square

Senate Square (Senaatintori) presents Carl Ludvig Engel's architecture as a unique allegory of political, religious, scientific and commercial powers in the centre of Helsinki. It has been the centrum of Helsinki since the city was established in 1640. Russians destroyed Helsinki entirely during the Great Northern War (1713-1721).When the Finland became an autonomous part of Russia in 1812, the capital was moved from Turk ...
Founded: 1816-1852 | Location: Helsinki, Finland

Tampere Old Church

The old church of Tampere is a wooden cruciform shape church built in 1824-1825. It’s the oldest public building in the downtown. The church was designed by Carlo Bassi. The belfry was added in 1828-1829. The first public park in Tampere was built around the church in 1835.The old church is popular for weddings and it’s open around the year from Wednesday to Sunday.
Founded: 1824-1825 | Location: Tampere, Finland

Museum Ship Pommern & Åland Maritime Museum

The Pommern, formerly the Mneme (1903–1908), is a four-masted barque that was built in 1903 in Glasgow at J. Reid & Co shipyard. It was one of the Flying P-Liners, the famous sailing ships of the German shipping company F. Laeisz. Later she was acquired Gustaf Erikson of the Finnish Åland archipelago, who used the ship to carry grain from the Spencer Gulf area in Australia to harbours in England or Ireland ...
Founded: 1903-1908 (museum ship Pommern | Location: Maarianhamina, Finland

Uspenski Cathedral

Uspenski Cathedral is an Eastern Orthodox cathedral dedicated to the Dormition of the Theotokos (the Virgin Mary). The cathedral was designed by the Russian architect Alexey Gornostaev (1808–1862), but it was built after his death in 1862-1868. It was made of bricks brought mainly from Bomarsund fortress in Åland which had been destroyed during the Crimean War in 1854.Uspenski cathedral represents the Slavonic architec ...
Founded: 1862-1868 | Location: Helsinki, Finland

Jyväskylä City Church

Jyväskylä City Church is located in the heart of city. The church building was completed in 1880, five years after the establishment of the city parish. The church was designed by architect L. I. Lindqvist and construction led by the Swedish-born architect, Anders Johan Janzon. The red-brick church replaced the earlier wooden church built in 1775.The new church was needed since the early 1850s due the poor condi ...
Founded: 1880 | Location: Jyväskylä, Finland

Tampere Cathedral

The national romantic cathedral was designed by Lars Sonck and built between 1902 and 1907. In the beginning of the 20th century Russification was a governmental policy of the Russian Empire aimed at limiting the special status of the Grand Duchy of Finland and possibly the termination of its autonomy. This caused the rise of the national romanticism in Finland and Tampere Cathedral was one of the most remarkable examples ...
Founded: 1902-1907 | Location: Tampere, Finland

Kuopio Museum

The Kuopio Museum was established in 1907 and it is the third oldest museum in Finland. The Jugend-style building, designed by J. V. Strömberg has been influenced by Finnish castles, such as Olavinlinna and the castle of Vyborg.There are two museums located in the building: The Kuopio Cultural History Museum and the Natural History Museum. The permanent exhibitions of the Cultural History Museum provide information o ...
Founded: 1907 | Location: Kuopio, Finland

Seurasaari Open-Air Museum

Seurasaari is a museum island, which consists of old, mainly wooden buildings transplanted from elsewhere in Finland and placed in the dense forest landscape of the island. The Open-Air Museum was founded in 1909. All the different provinces of Finland are represented in the well preserved old buildings and they give an overall view of Finnish countryside life from the 18th to the 20th century. At present, there are 87 se ...
Founded: 1909 | Location: Helsinki, Finland

Muonio Church

The wooden church of Muonio was completed in 1817 and inaugurated in 1822. It is designed by Charles Bassi. The bell tower was built in 1889. Muonio Church was one of those few buildings the withdrawing German army didn’t destroyed during the Lapland War in 1944. The village of Muonio was almost completely burnt down. The church is open from June to August Mo-Fri 10-14.
Founded: 1817 | Location: Muonio, Finland

Ateneum Art Museum

Ateneum is the national gallery of Finland presenting the most important art collection in Finland. Ateneum's collections includes several classics from most well-known Finnish artists like Akseli Gallen-Kallela, Helene Schjerfbeck and Albert Edefelt. There is also a fine collection of international art, among its gems the works of Vincent van Gogh and Paul Gauguin.The museum building itself was designed by Theodor H& ...
Founded: 1887 | Location: Helsinki, Finland

Observatory Hill

This 30 meters high rock hill was used as guard hill in the Middle Ages. If enemy ships were seen coming from the sea, fire was lighted to the hill to warn local people. After the great fire in Turku (1827), instruments and astronomical books of Turku University observatory were transferred to Helsinki.The Helsinki astronomical observatory was built to the hill in 1834. It designed in cooperation by professor Friedrich Wi ...
Founded: 1834 | Location: Helsinki, Finland

Oulu City Hall

The Oulu City Hall was completed in 1886 as a restaurant (“Seurahuone”). The neo-Renaissance building was designed by J. E. Stenberg. The city council moved to the house in 1921.
Founded: 1886 | Location: Oulu, Finland

Military Museum of Finland

The Military Museum of Finland is the central museum of the Finnish Defence Forces and the national special museum of military history. It was founded in 1929. n 1933 the exhibition was moved to Suomenlinna. During the second world war 1939-45 the museum was closed to the public. The museum was opened to the public again 1948 in Kruununhaka. Today the Military Museum is located in a garrison building designed by Evert Lag ...
Founded: 1883 (Museum opened in 1948) | Location: Helsinki, Finland

Joensuu Church

The brick-made Joensuu Church was built in 1903 and designed by a Finnish church architect Josef Stenbäck. The church is in the Gothic Revival style, but it also has some features of Jugendstil. The high tower located in the southeast corner is the bell tower and in the lower southwest tower is the organ. It was built in 1969 by Organ Factory of Kangasala and has 36 stops. The church has 1000 seats. On the altar is a pai ...
Founded: 1903 | Location: Joensuu, Finland

Kemi Church

Kemi Church is an Evangelical Lutheran church. The Gothic Revival building was designed by architect Josef Stenbäck and it was completed in 1902. The brick-made church has 1000 seats.
Founded: 1902 | Location: Kemi, Finland

Lappeenranta Church

The Lutheran church of Lappeenranta was completed in 1924. The building started in 1912 and it was originally mentioned to be an Orthodox military church of Russian garrison in Lappeenranta. The construction was interrupted quite soon by World War I. After the independence declaration the church was moved as the property of Finland government. The parish of Lappeenranta decided to complete it as the Lutheran church. The ...
Founded: 1912-1924 | Location: Lappeenranta, Finland

Vaasa Church

Vaasa Church was planned by the architect C. A. Setterberg and consecrated in 1869. The church, built in an English neo-gothic style, has a capacity of almost 900 people. The last restoration took place in the year 2000.The church has three altarpieces: The Institution of the Eucharist by R. W. Ekman (1861), The Adoration of the Angels by Albert Edelfelt (1894), and The Deposition of Christ by Louis Sparre (1897).
Founded: 1862-1869 | Location: Vaasa, Finland

Kallio Church

The spectacular Kallio church, designed by Lars Sonck and built in 1908–1912, represents the Finnish national romantic school of architecture, as well as a change to Art Nouveau. The bells of the tower play a melody composed by Jean Sibelius. Inside the church are numerous interesting details such as a crucifix and relief made by sculptor Hannes Autere.In the beginning of independent Finland Tolstoyan movement took ...
Founded: 1908-1912 | Location: Helsinki, Finland

Vaasa City Hall

Vaasa City Hall was designed by Swedish architect Magnus Isæus and it was completed in 1883. The Senate of Finland moved to the city hall during the Civil War on 16.3.1918. The Senate worked there until 3.5.1918 when the war ended and Senate moved back to Helsinki.Today the City Hall is used for events of local communities, companies and the city of Vaasa.
Founded: 1883 | Location: Vaasa, Finland

Kotka Church

The church of Kotka was designed by architect Josef Stenbäck and completed in 1898. The red-brick church was built in the Neo-Gothic style. The altarpiece was painted by famous painter Pekka Halonen.
Founded: 1897-1898 | Location: Kotka, Finland

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Royal Palace of Aranjuez

Palacio Real de Aranjuez is a former Spanish royal residence. It was established around the time Philip II of Spain moved the capital from Toledo to Madrid. Aranjuez became one of four seasonal seats of government, occupied during the springtime (from about holy week). Thereafter, the court moved successively to Rascafría, El Escorial and wintered in Madrid. Aranjuez Cultural Landscape is an UNESCO World Heritage Site.

After the Christian conquest, Aranjuez was owned by the Order of Santiago and a palace was built for its Grand Masters where the Royal Palace stands today. When the Catholic Monarchs assumed the office of Grand Master of the Order of Santiago, Aranjuez became part of the Royal estate. This fertile land, located between the Tajo and Jarama Rivers, was converted into the Spanish monarchy"s most lavish country retreat: during Spain"s Golden Age, Aranjuez became a symbol for the perfection of nature by mortal hands, as El Escorial was for art.

Such excellence was based on strong Renaissance foundations, as Charles V envisaged this inherited estate as a large Italian-inspired villa, a desire continued by Philip II who appointed Juan Bautista de Toledo to design leafy avenues that ran through the gardens and farming land. A series of dams was constructed in the 16th century to control the course of the Tajo River and create a network of irrigation canals.

The splendour of the estate was only enhanced by the Bourbon monarchs, who would spend the whole spring, from Easter to July, at the Palace. Phillip V added new gardens and Ferdinand VI designed a new system of tree-lined streets and created a small village within the estate, which was further developed by Charles III and Charles IV. As Ferdinand VII and Isabella II continued to visit Aranjuez during the spring, the splendour of this site was maintained until 1870.

The Royal Palace, built by Phillip II on the site of the old palace of the Grand Masters of Santiago, was designed by the architect Juan Bautista de Toledo –under whom construction began in 1564– and later Juan Herrera, who only managed to finish half the project. Although glimpses of the original layout still remain, the building itself is more characteristic of the classicism favoured by the Hapsburg monarchs, with alternating white stone and brick. The original design was continued by Phillip V in 1715 but not finished until 1752 under Ferdinand VI. The rectangular layout that Juan Bautista de Toledo had planned, and that took two centuries to complete, was only maintained for 20 years, since in 1775 Charles III added two wings onto the Palace.

Real Casa del Labrador

As the Prince of Asturias, Charles IV was a frequent visitor to the pier pavilions built by Ferdinand VI and grew up playing in the Prince’s Garden. When he became King, he decided to build a new country house at the far end of these gardens, known as the Casa del Labrador (the labourer"s house) due to its modest exterior that was designed to heavily contrast the magnificent internal decor. It was built by chief architect Juan de Villanueva and his pupil Isidro González Velázquez, who designed some of the interior spaces. These rooms, developed in various stages until 1808, are the greatest example of the lavish interior decor favoured by this monarch in his palaces and country retreats. Highlights at this Site include the combination of different types of art and the luxurious textiles, in particular the silks from Lyon, as well as wealth of original works on the main floor, where Ferdinand VII added various paintings and landscapes by Brambilla.

King"s Garden, the Island Garden, Parterre Garden and the Prince"s Garden

Phillip II, a great lover of gardens, paid special attention to this feature of the Aranjuez Palace: during his reign, he maintained both the Island Garden, designed by the architect Juan Bautista de Toledo, and the King"s Garden, immediately adjacent to the Palace and whose current layout was designed by Philip IV. The majority of the fountains on this island were commissioned by Phillip IV, while the Bourbons added other features such as the Charles III benches.

Phillip V made two French-style additions to the existing gardens: the Parterre Garden in front of the palace and the extension at the far end of the Island Garden, known as the Little Island, where he installed the Tritons Fountain that was later moved to the Campo del Moro park by Isabella II.

The Prince"s Garden owes its name and creation to the son and heir of Charles III who, in the 1770s, began to use Ferdinand VI"s old pier for his own enjoyment. He also created a landscaped garden in the Anglo-French style that was in fashion at the time and which was directly influenced by Marie Antoinette"s gardens at the Petit Trianon. Both Juan de Villanueva and Pablo Boutelou collaborated in the design of this garden.