Suomenlinna bastion walls in fall.
Photo: ARTTU KOKKONEN / SUOMENLINNA GOVERNING BODY
Heading back from Seurasaari, you pass close to several other main Helsinki attractions. One of these is the Sibelius monument, a tribute to Finland’s best-loved composer made from silver tubes that evoke the pipes of an organ.
The monument is in the small Sibelius Park, close to a picturesque stretch of shoreline.
The no. 24 bus back into town also goes through the Töölö area, close to the Temppeliaukio church, known in English as “the Church in the Rock”.
The National Romantic variation on the art nouveau Jugendstil theme
The National Romantic variation on the art nouveau Jugendstil theme is expressed in the turrets, rural motifs and quirky granite detail of the National Museum on Mannerheimintie 34 and the National Theatre, fronted by the statue of the pensive, seated novelist and playwright Aleksis Kivi, in the Railway Station Square.
As for the main Railway Station itself, no rail terminus in the world can match this creation by Eliel Saarinen for character and idiosyncrasy.
Its arched façade, guarded on either side by two lamp-holding granite figures, has reminded more than one observer of an early radio set.
Opposite the National Theatre, across the Railway Station Square, are the classical columns of the Ateneum Art Museum, one part of the Finnish National Gallery, housing Finnish works dating back three centuries from the mid-20th.
Contemporary art of the Finnish National Gallery is housed in the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma, one of Helsinki’s more controversial and modern structures, adjacent to the main Post Office and the statue of the horse-borne Marshal Mannerheim.
The space-age transparent cube of Sanomatalo, the headquarters of Finland’s biggest media group, is also nearby, and next to it the Helsinki music centre Musiikkitalo. The stern edifice of the Parliament, also on Mannerheimintie, was also extended with a modern annex.
This whole area has undergone dramatic developments in recent years, and these changes to the city’s central profile are continuing, underlying Finland’s forward-looking dynamism.
The newest building to rise in the area is the Central Library Oodi that will open its doors in December 2018.
Further along Mannerheimintie are a few more landmarks on the central Helsinki skyline. First is the Finlandia concert and congress hall, whose graceful white lines on the edge of the Töölönlahti bay and Hesperia park are the work of Finland’s most celebrated architect, Alvar Aalto.
The less graceful, but no less striking Opera House is a further along the shore. A little way to the north is the white tower of the Olympic Stadium, the stage for the Helsinki 1952 Olympic Games and still the top outdoor sports venue.
Your reward at the top of the tower is one of the best views of the city, from the dome of the Cathedral to the south to the administrative blocks of Pasila in the north.