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3rd June, 2013


Helsinki architecture

A couple of days ago northern Finland was supposed to have recorded the highest temperature in Europe for that particular day, and it looked like the good weather was set to  continue for us over the next few days at least. With the wind veering more easterly the chances of fog had also dramatically decreased, which I found personally pleasing.

Having had a clement crossing from Stockholm, the pilot boarded just before noon for the short pilotage into Helsinki. The approach to the berth took us through a narrow cut with the fortress “Suomenlinna” situated on the small island to port as we passed through. Rounding the shoals marked with spar buoys Saga Sapphire approached the quay side without fuss or drama, and was promptly made fast with plenty of time to spare before the tours were scheduled to disembark.

Helsinki was established as a trading town by King Gustav I of Sweden in 1550 as the town of Helsingfors, which he intended to be a rival to the Hanseatic city of Reval (today known as Tallinn). However Helsinki remained a tiny town plagued by poverty, wars, and diseases. The construction of the naval fortress, then called Sveaborg, now Suomenlinna (which we passed on the way in) in the 18th century helped improve Helsinki's status, but it was not until Russia defeated Sweden in the Finnish War and annexed Finland as the autonomous Grand Duchy of Finland in 1809 that the town began to develop into a substantial city.

Helsinki tram

Czar Alexander I of Russia moved the Finnish capital from Turku to Helsinki to reduce Swedish influence in Finland and the countries only university, the Royal Academy of Turku, was also relocated to Helsinki in 1827 eventually becoming the modern University of Helsinki. The move consolidated the city's new role and helped set it on the path of continuous growth into the modern city it is today.

With temperatures still in their mid-twenties, a large number of passengers stayed on deck to watch our evening sail out past the Naval Fortress, with its shores less than the ships breadth away as we sailed through the cut out into the Gulf of Finland once more.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.