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

Quimper Cathedral

From 1239, Raynaud, the Bishop of Quimper, decided on the building of a new chancel destined to replace that of the Romanesque era. He therefore started, in the far west, the construction of a great Gothic cathedral which would inspire cathedral reconstructions in the Ile de France and would in turn become a place of experimentation from where would later appear ideas adopted by the whole of lower Brittany. The date of 1239 marks the Bishop’s decision and does not imply an immediate start to construction. Observation of the pillar profiles, their bases, the canopies, the fitting of the ribbed vaults of the ambulatory or the alignment of the bays leads us to believe, however, that the construction was spread out over time.

The four circular pillars mark the start of the building site, but the four following adopt a lozenge-shaped layout which could indicate a change of project manager. The clumsiness of the vaulted archways of the north ambulatory, the start of the ribbed vaults at the height of the south ambulatory or the choice of the vaults descending in spoke-form from the semi-circle which allows the connection of the axis chapel to the choir – despite the manifest problems of alignment – conveys the hesitancy and diverse influences in the first phase of works which spread out until the start of the 14th century.

At the same time as this facade was built (to which were added the north and south gates) the building of the nave started in the east and would finish by 1460. The nave is made up of six bays with one at the level of the facade towers and flanked by double aisles – one wide and one narrow (split into side chapels) – in an extension of the choir arrangements.

The choir presents four right-hand bays with ambulatory and side chapels. It is extended towards the east of 3-sided chevet which opens onto a semi-circle composed of five chapels and an apsidal chapel of two bays and a flat chevet consecrated to Our Lady.

The three-level elevation with arches, triforium and galleries seems more uniform and expresses anglo-Norman influence in the thickness of the walls (Norman passageway at the gallery level) or the decorative style (heavy mouldings, decorative frieze under the triforium). This building site would have to have been overseen in one shot. Undoubtedly interrupted by the war of Succession (1341-1364) it draws to a close with the building of the lierne vaults (1410) and the fitting of stained-glass windows. Bishop Bertrand de Rosmadec and Duke Jean V, whose coat of arms would decorate these vaults, finished the chancel before starting on the building of the facade and the nave.

Isolated from its environment in the 19th century, the cathedral was – on the contrary – originally very linked to its surroundings. Its site and the orientation of the facade determined traffic flow in the town. Its positioning close to the south walls resulted in particuliarities such as the transfer of the side gates on to the north and south facades of the towers: the southern portal of Saint Catherine served the bishop’s gate and the hospital located on the left bank (the current Préfecture) and the north gate was the baptismal porch – a true parish porch with its benches and alcoves for the Apostles’ statues turned towards the town, completed by an ossuary (1514).

The west porch finds its natural place between the two towers. The entire aesthetic of these three gates springs from the Flamboyant era: trefoil, curly kale, finials, large gables which cut into the mouldings and balustrades. Pinnacles and recesses embellish the buttresses whilst an entire bestiary appears: monsters, dogs, mysterious figures, gargoyles, and with them a whole imaginary world promoting a religious and political programme. Even though most of the saints statues have disappeared an armorial survives which makes the doors of the cathedral one of the most beautiful heraldic pages imaginable: ducal ermine, the Montfort lion, Duchess Jeanne of France’s coat of arms side by side with the arms of the Cornouaille barons with their helmets and crests. One can imagine the impact of this sculpted decor with the colour and gilding which originally completed it.

At the start of the 16th century the construction of the spires was being prepared when building was interrupted, undoubtedly for financial reasons. Small conical roofs were therefore placed on top of the towers. The following centuries were essentially devoted to putting furnishings in place (funeral monuments, altars, statues, organs, pulpit). Note the fire which destroyed the spire of the transept cross in 1620 as well as the ransacking of the cathedral in 1793 when nearly all the furnishings disappeared in a « bonfire of the saints ».

The 19th century would therefore inherit an almost finished but mutilated building and would devote itself to its renovation according to the tastes and theories of the day.