Palaces, manors and town halls in Finland

Presidential Palace

To the north of Kauppatori Square stands the Presidential Palace, one of C. L. Engel’s grand neo-classical buildings. Originally at the beginning of 19th century, a salt storehouse stood on the site. The entire lot was bought by merchant Johan Henrik Heidenstrauch who built the first palace in 1820. He had to sell it to the senate of Finland in 1837 and the building was moved to the official residence of the Tsar or Rus ...
Founded: 1816-1845 | Location: Helsinki, Finland

Parliament House

Since 1907 the Parliament of Finland was convened in House of the Estates and Finnish House of Nobility. Both buildings became however too small for the 200 members of the independent Finland Parliament. In 1923 a competition was held to choose a site for a new Parliament House. Arkadianmäki, a hill beside what is now Mannerheimintie, was chosen as the best site.The architectural competition which was held in 1924 wa ...
Founded: 1926-1931 | 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

Hatanpää Manor

First record of Hatanpää dates back to year 1540 and the first manor was built in the 1690s. Hans Boije (1717-1781) improved the farming business and increased Hatanpää prosperity significantly. He also built an English garden to Hatanpää with and hired 30 gardeners to maintain it. Boije was a freemasonry and added an stone to the park with Greek engraving Egno Kyrios tous ontas antou (Lord k ...
Founded: 1883-1885 | Location: Tampere, 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

The Old Courthouse

The empire style Old Courthouse in Pori was built in 1839-1841. It is designed by the famous architect C. L. Engel who has also created the empire style Helsinki Senate Square and Cathedral. In the beginning the building functioned as an office of the municipality administration, but also as jail and fireguard’s house. The City Hall was damaged by fire in 1852. It was renovated to the original shape some years later ...
Founded: 1839-1841 | Location: Pori, Finland

Hvitträsk

Hvitträsk atelier was built between 1901-1903 by architects Herman Gesellius, Armas Lindgren and Eliel Saarinen. The main building, designed in National Romantic style, built of logs and natural stone, was both a common studio and a home for Eliel Saarinen and Armas Lindgren for some years after it was completed.Seveval famous artists, including Jean Sibelius, Axeli Gallen-Kallela and Maksim Gorki, visited in Hvitträsk. ...
Founded: 1902-1903 | Location: Kirkkonummi, Finland

Näsilinna Palace

The Neo-Baroque palace Näsilinna was built by Finlayson factory owner Peter von Nottbeck in 1898. It was designed by architect K.A.Wrede. Due to deaths in the owner's family, Näsilinna was soon left without residents, and the city of Tampere bought it in 1905. It was changed to museum already in 1908.Later Näsilinna was unoccupied for years and dilapidated badly. The restoration was completed in 2015. The f ...
Founded: 1898 | Location: Tampere, Finland

Town Hall

The Town Hall is literally the center of Hamina city. It’s located at the center of eight radial streets. The original hall was built in 1798, but it has been destroyed by two separate town fires. The current empire-style building was built in the 1840s according the design of famous architect C. L. Engel.Today, the Town Hall serves as offices for the town’s central administration.
Founded: 1840s | Location: Hamina, Finland

Espoo Manor

Espoo estate was established as a 'King's manor' (Kungsgård) by Gustav Vasa, King of Sweden, in 1556. The first bailiff was Peder Mandel in 1557-1558. Later the manor was a residence of famous field marshals and statemen Jacob de la Gardie and Gustav Horn. Espoo manor has been owned by the Ramsay family since 1756. The current manor house was built in 1797. Today Espoo manor provides wedding and event services.
Founded: 1797 | Location: Espoo, Finland

Valtionhotelli

The Imatrankoski Rapids has been a famous tourist sight since the 18th century. For example Catherine the Great, the Empress of All the Russias, visited Imatra in July 1772. In 1892 the railway came to Imatra, which immediately shortened the journey from St. Petersburg and increased the influx of tourists. There were originally two wooden hotels used by Russian aristocracy, but but they had been destroyed in fires in the ...
Founded: 1903 | Location: Imatra, Finland

Tamminiemi

Tamminiemi villa was one of the official residences of the President of Finland from 1940 until 1981. From that date, until his death, it served as the residence of President Urho Kekkonen. Designed by architects Sigurd Frosterus and Gustaf Strengell, the jugendstil villa was built in 1903 for the Danish-born businessman Jörgen Nissen. The villa was later owned or rented by a number of individuals, before being acqui ...
Founded: 1903 | Location: Helsinki, Finland

Kuopio City Hall

The massive City Hall of Kuopio was built between 1882-1885. The Neo-renaissance building was designed by F. A. Sjöström and J. Stenbäck.
Founded: 1882-1885 | Location: Kuopio, 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

Alberga Manor

Alberga Manor was first mentioned in the 1620s. The current main building was built as a summer residence by council Feodor Kiseleff in 1874–1876. Later it was in the possession of Helsinki city and left to decay. The main restoration was made in 1997 and today Alberga is used by Espoo City culture office.
Founded: 1874-1876 | Location: Espoo, Finland

Louhisaari Manor

Louhisaari manor castle was built in the late medieval ages by the remarkable Fleming noble family. The present main building was completed in the 1650s and represents the rare palatial architecture in Finland. The grounds have an extensive English-style park, complete with paths. Louhisaari belonged to the Fleming family for over three hundred years. The lack of money forced them to sell the manor to the family of Manner ...
Founded: ca. 1650 | Location: Masku, Finland

Vanajanlinna

The history of the original estate of Vanajanlinna, Äikäälä, goes back to the Middle Ages. Historical records mention Olle af Aeykaelum (Olli of Äikäälä) as the owner of the Äikäälä estate in 1374. After him the farm has had many owners and a colourful history as a freehold and holding farm used for agriculture.The actual history of Vanajalinna begins from the year 1918, when the industrialist Carl Wilhelm Ros ...
Founded: 1924 | Location: Hämeenlinna, Finland

Haikko Manor

The history of the Haikko manor dates back to 1362 when a Dominican monastery owned the site. Jöns Olafsson Stenbock bought the manor and Haikko was a residence of Stenbock family for next 400 years. In 1871 it was bought by general Sebastian von Etter. Several members of the Russian Imperial family visited Haikko because von Etter was a close friend to czar Nicholas II. During the revolution in 1917 Grand Duke Kiril ...
Founded: 1913 | Location: Porvoo, Finland

Herttoniemi Manor Museum

The history of Herttoniemi Manor dates back to the 16th century. The Herttoniemi area is probably named after Laurens Hertoghe who might have been the first owner of the manor. The heyday was in the late 1700’s, when the manor was owned by Augustin Ehrensvärd. He led the construction of Suomenlinna fortress. The present main building originates from the beginning of 19th century, when the manor was owned by ad ...
Founded: 19th century | Location: Helsinki, Finland

Sjundby Manor

The history of the Sjundby manor castle dates back to year 1417. The present main building was built in the 1560’s by Jakob Henriksson. It was made of grey stone and had also a defensive purpose. Sjundby has been a residence for several noble families. The most well-known owner was Sigfrid Wasa, the daugher of the king Eric XIV. After her Adlercreutz family had owned Sjundby over 300 years to the present. Only exception ...
Founded: ca. 1560 | Location: Siuntio, Finland

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Porta Nigra

The Porta Nigra (Latin for black gate) is the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps. It is designated as part of the Roman Monuments, Cathedral of St. Peter and Church of Our Lady in Trier UNESCO World Heritage Site. The name Porta Nigra originated in the Middle Ages due to the darkened colour of its stone; the original Roman name has not been preserved. Locals commonly refer to the Porta Nigra simply as Porta.

The Porta Nigra was built in grey sandstone between 186 and 200 AD. The original gate consisted of two four-storied towers, projecting as near semicircles on the outer side. A narrow courtyard separated the two gate openings on either side. For unknown reasons, however, the construction of the gate remained unfinished. For example, the stones at the northern (outer) side of the gate were never abraded, and the protruding stones would have made it impossible to install movable gates. Nonetheless, the gate was used for several centuries until the end of the Roman era in Trier.

In Roman times, the Porta Nigra was part of a system of four city gates, one of which stood at each side of the roughly rectangular Roman city. The Porta Nigra guarded the northern entry to the Roman city, while the Porta Alba (White Gate) was built in the east, the Porta Media (Middle Gate) in the south, and the Porta Inclyta (Famous Gate) in the west, next to the Roman bridge across the Moselle. The gates stood at the ends of the two main streets of the Roman Trier, one of which led north-south and the other east-west. Of these gates, only the Porta Nigra still exists today.

In the early Middle Ages the Roman city gates were no longer used for their original function and their stones were taken and reused for other buildings. Also iron and lead braces were broken out of the walls of the Porta Nigra for reuse. Traces of this destruction are still clearly visible on the north side of the gate.

After 1028, the Greek monk Simeon lived as a hermit in the ruins of the Porta Nigra. After his death (1035) and sanctification, the Simeonstift monastery was built next to the Porta Nigra to honor him. Saving it from further destruction, the Porta Nigra was transformed into a church: The inner court of the gate was roofed and intermediate ceilings were inserted. The two middle storeys of the former gate were converted into church naves: the upper storey being for the monks and the lower storey for the general public. The ground floor with the large gates was sealed, and a large outside staircase was constructed alongside the south side (the town side) of the gate, up to the lower storey of the church. A small staircase led further up to the upper storey. The church rooms were accessible through former windows of the western tower of the Porta Nigra that were enlarged to become entrance doors (still visible today). The top floor of the western tower was used as church tower, the eastern tower was leveled, and an apse added at its east side. An additional gate - the much smaller Simeon Gate - was built adjacent to the East side of the Porta Nigra and served as a city gate in medieval times.

In 1802 Napoleon Bonaparte dissolved the church in the Porta Nigra and the monastery beside it, along with the vast majority of Trier"s numerous churches and monasteries. On his visit to Trier in 1804, Napoleon ordered that the Porta Nigra be converted back to its Roman form. Only the apse was kept; but the eastern tower was not rebuilt to its original height. Local legend has it that Napoleon originally wanted to completely tear down the church, but locals convinced him that the church had actually been a Gaulish festival hall before being turned into a church. Another version of the story is that they told him about its Roman origins, persuading him to convert the gate back to its original form.

In 1986 the Porta Nigra was designated a World Heritage Site, along with other Roman monuments in Trier and its surroundings. The modern appearance of the Porta Nigra goes back almost unchanged to the reconstruction ordered by Napoleon. At the south side of the Porta Nigra, remains of Roman columns line the last 100 m of the street leading to the gate. Positioned where they had stood in Roman times, they give a slight impression of the aspect of the original Roman street that was lined with colonnades. The Porta Nigra, including the upper floors, is open to visitors.