Top historic sites in Helsinki

Suomenlinna

Suomenlinna ("Sveaborg", "Viapori") sea fortress is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of Finland’s most popular tourist attractions. The construction of the fortress started by the king of Sweden in 1748 as protection against Russian expansionism. Suomenlinna was planned to be a principal base for naval military operations and the general responsibility for the fortification work was given to Augustin Ehrensv&aum ...
Founded: 1748-1917 | Location: Helsinki, 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

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

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

Olympic Stadium

The story of Olympic Stadium began in 1927, when City of Helsinki and several sport associations created the Stadium Foundation. The purpose of foundation was to build an adequate venue for the summer olympics. Construction of the Olympic Stadium began in 1934 and it was completed in 1938. It was designed in functionalistic style by the architects Yrjö Lindegren and Toivo Jäntti.The stadium was built to host the ...
Founded: 1934-1938 | Location: Helsinki, 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

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

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

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

Sibelius Monument

The Sibelius monument was designed by Eila Hiltunen and completed in 1967. It consists of series of more than 600 hollow steel pipes welded together in a wave-like pattern. The purpose of the artist was to capture the essence of the music of Sibelius. The monument weighs 24 tonnes. It’s probably the most well-known abstract sculpture in Finland and popular tourist attraction.
Founded: 1967 | Location: Helsinki , 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

Temppeliaukio Church

Quarried out of the natural bedrock, The Temppeliaukio church is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city; half a million people visit it annually. The interior walls are created naturally by the rock. The church was designed by architects Timo and Tuomo Suomalainen and opened in 1969. The interior was excavated and built into the rock but is bathed in natural light entering through the glazed dome. Due to ...
Founded: 1969 | Location: Helsinki, Finland

Hietaniemi Cemetery

The Hietaniemi cemetery is the location for Finnish state funeral services and most remarkable cemetery in Finland. The cemetery was placed to Hietaniemi in 1829. It was originally a military cemetery for the Finnish Guard, which was part of the Russian army.The cemetery includes still a large military cemetery section for soldiers from the capital fallen in the wars against the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany: in the Winte ...
Founded: 1829 | Location: Helsinki, Finland

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Königstein Fortress

Königstein Fortress is located on the left bank of the River Elbe. It is one of the largest hilltop fortifications in Europe. The 9.5 hectare rock plateau rises 240 metres above the Elbe and has over 50 buildings, some over 400 years old, that bear witness to the military and civilian life in the fortress. The rampart run of the fortress is 1,800 metres long with walls up to 42 metres high and steep sandstone faces. In the centre of the site is a 152.5 metre deep well, which is the deepest in Saxony and second deepest well in Europe.

The fortress, which for centuries was used as a state prison, is still intact and is now one of Saxony's foremost tourist attractions, with 700,000 visitors per year.

By far the oldest written record of a castle on the Königstein is found in a deed by King Wenceslas I of Bohemia dating to the year 1233. It is probable that there had been a stone castle on the Königstein as early as the 12th century. The oldest surviving structure today is the castle chapel built at the turn of the 13th century. In the years 1563 to 1569 the 152.5 metre deep well was bored into the rock within the castle - until that point the garrison of the Königstein had to obtain water from cisterns and by collecting rainwater.

Between 1589 and 1591/97 Prince-Elector Christian I of Saxony and his successor had the castle developed into the strongest fortification in Saxony. The hill was now surrounded with high walls. Buildings were erected, including the Gatehouse (Torhaus), the Streichwehr, the Old Barracks (Alte Kaserne), the Christiansburg (Friedrichsburg) and the Old Armoury (Altes Zeughaus). The second construction period followed from 1619 to 1681, during which the John George Bastion was built. The third construction period is seen as the time from 1694 to 1756, which included the expansion of the Old Barracks. From 1722 to 1725, at the behest of August the Strong, coopers under Böttger built the enormous Königstein Wine Barrel, the greatest wine barrel in the world, in the cellar of the Magdalenenburg which had a capacity of 249,838 litres. It cost 8,230 thalers, 18 groschen and 9 pfennigs. The butt, which was once completely filled with country wine from the Meißen vineyards, had to be removed again in 1818 due to its poor condition. Because of Böttger, Königstein Fortress is also the site where European porcelain started.

Even after the expansion during those periods of time there continued to be modifications and additions on the extensive plateau. The Treasury (Schatzhaus) was built from 1854 to 1855. After the fortress had been incorporated in 1871 into the fortification system of the new German Empire, battery ramparts were constructed from 1870 to 1895 with eight firing points, that were to have provided all-round defence for the fortress in case of an attack that, in the event, never came. This was at this time that the last major building work was done on the fortress.

Because Königstein Fortress was regarded as unconquerable, the Saxon monarchs retreated to it from Wittenberg and later Dresden during times of crisis and also deposited the state treasure and many works of art from the famous Zwinger here; it was also used as a country retreat due to its lovely surroundings.

The fortress played an important role in the History of Saxony, albeit less as a result of military action. The Saxon Dukes and Prince-Electors used the fortress primarily as a secure refuge during times of war, as a hunting lodge and maison de plaisance, but also as a dreaded state prison. Its actual military significance was rather marginal.

Since 1955 the fortress has been an open-air, military history museum of high touristic value.