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 Russia (Imperial Palace of Finland).
The necessary rebuilding and furnishing work, carried out between 1843 and 1845, was directed by architect Carl Ludvig Engel, the creator of neoclassical Helsinki. The Imperial family of Russia visited in palace several times between 1854-1915.
During the World War I palace functioned as military hospital for Russian Army. In the Finnish Civil War (1918) it was first the headquarters of the Executive Committee of the Helsinki Workers and Soldiers Soviet. With the victory of the Whites, the Reds abandoned the Palace, which was temporarily used by German and White Finnish military staff. After the war it was quickly converted to the presidential palace of independent Finland. Complete repairs were made at speed, with the furnishings and art collections of the Palace being returned from storage in the National Museum and the Ateneum Art Museum, and also being supplemented. Since then, it has been the official residence of the President. The Palace was again refurbished and modernised by Martti Välikangas in 1938.
The Presidential Palace is open for tours, which can be arranged through Helsinki Expert.
The city walls of Avila were built in the 11th century to protect the citizens from the Moors. They have been well maintained throughout the centuries and are now a major tourist attraction as well as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visitors can walk around about half of the length of the walls.
The layout of the city is an even quadrilateral with a perimeter of 2,516 m. Its walls, which consist in part of stones already used in earlier constructions, have an average thickness of 3 m. Access to the city is afforded by nine gates of different periods; twin 20 m high towers, linked by a semi-circular arch, flank the oldest ones, Puerta de San Vicente and Puerta del Alcázar.