Most of today I spent at Suomenlinna – a handful of islands a 15 minute boat-ride away that were a coastal fortress. Originally built by the Swedish in 1748 it was occupied by the Russians, and was handed over to the city in 1973. There’s still a naval academy on one of the smaller islands, but for the most part it’s residential and a museum.

While waiting for the ferry, I took a quick look at a nice sailing ship that was moored up though:

Sailing ship moored at Helsinki

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Sailing ship moored at Helsinki

Anyway, after a 15 minute ferry ride I arrived at the islands. I decided to walk the main route through to the far end to begin with, to outrun the tour party who were hot on my heels. One of the houses (people live there too) had some fun halloween decorations:

Halloween decoration at a house on Suomenlinna Island

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Halloween decoration at a house on Suomenlinna Island

Crossing over to the second main island, you go through an archway under one of the main walls

Archway through the fortress wall

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Archway through the fortress wall

Leading off to the side of this were tunnels in both directions which I took a quick walk down. They’re all empty now

Tunnel through the fortress walls of Suomenlinna

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Tunnel through the fortress walls of Suomenlinna

Back in the courtyard (where the archway tunnel drops you) is the tomb of the designer, Augustin Ehrensvärd.

Tomb of Augustin Ehrensvärd who designed the Great Courtyard

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Tomb of Augustin Ehrensvärd who designed the Great Courtyard

Heading out of the courtyard along the road, autumn colours were in full swing. Combined with the low winter sun (even at midday at this latitude it doesn’t get very high in the sky, making good photo-taking light!) it made for a pleasant walk, although cold. Leaves in shade were still frosty.

Autumn colours on Suomenlinna

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Autumn colours on Suomenlinna

Shadow of a tree cast by the morning sun

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Shadow of a tree cast by the morning sun

Frosty leaves

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Frosty leaves

Garden gate belonging to a house on Suomenlinna

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Garden gate belonging to a house on Suomenlinna

Frost covered wooden steps leading down to the rocks

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Frost covered wooden steps leading down to the rocks

I arrived at the southern end of the island, where a line of coastal cannons still stand. A bit of googling suggests these have a 279mm caliber, and could fire the 245 kg shell a range of 8.5 km, albeit at a leisurely 1.5 rounds per minute. They’re pretty rusted up now.

280 RK 77 Coastal Cannon

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280 RK 77 Coastal Cannon

Rusted wheels and metal on a coastal cannon

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Rusted wheels and metal on a coastal cannon

Tunnel under the cannon leading to rooms where ammunition was stored

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Tunnel under the cannon leading to rooms where ammunition was stored

Another coastal cannon

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Another coastal cannon

Sprial rifling

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Sprial rifling

Continuing around the edge of the island I was back inside tunnels, containing some older more primitive cannons

Smaller cannon within the fortress walls

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Smaller cannon within the fortress walls

Older cannon, showing the date, 1720

70mm, f/6.3, 1/30 sec, ISO100
Older cannon, showing the date, 1720

More tunnels under the fortress walls

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More tunnels under the fortress walls

One tunnel led off here for a few hundred metres in pitch black (good job my phone has a torch built in), and when I exited, I was at the “kings gate”. Although it’s not where the ferry now stops, it’s the traditional main entrance to the fortress.

Kuninkannporti - the Kings Gate

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Kuninkannporti – the Kings Gate

I walked back along the edge of the island towards the bridge linking to the island where the ferry docked, via some mortars (similar power to the coastal cannons), some small boats moored up, and colourful buildings.

Four mortars on the east side of the island

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Four mortars on the east side of the island

Life-ring on a small docking platform

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Life-ring on a small docking platform

Small residential harbour at Suomenlinna

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Small residential harbour at Suomenlinna

Yellow shutters on a wooden building

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Yellow shutters on a wooden building

I had to pass through the great courtyard again, so stopped to photograph a couple of bikes, and also look out over the dry dock where various ships were laid up.

Bicycle outside one of the buildings in the courtyard

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Bicycle outside one of the buildings in the courtyard

Bicycle leaning against the wall of a building in the courtyard

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Bicycle leaning against the wall of a building in the courtyard

Small stree leading out of the west side of the courtyard

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Small stree leading out of the west side of the courtyard

Suomenlinna dry-dock

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Suomenlinna dry-dock

Also on the edge of the island is a submarine. It’s the only remaining Finnish submarine (they were ordered to scrap them all in the Paris Treaty of 1947), and in the summer you can go inside it. Not today though.

Vessiko, the only remaining WW2 submarine from Finland

23mm, f/8, 1/320 sec, ISO100
Vessiko, the only remaining WW2 submarine from Finland

I passed back over to the other island, stopping for a drink, and then found some lunch. Walking back towards the ferry I took another couple of pictures.

Slightly creepy shed in the woods

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Slightly creepy shed in the woods

Bench in amongst the autumn leaves

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Bench in amongst the autumn leaves

I also walked up to the church. The fence around it is made of a very heavyweight chain link fence, with the vertical supports made of cannons! The church itself was rather plain.

Chain surrounding Suomenlinna church

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Chain surrounding Suomenlinna church

A little more walking about, then it was time to catch the ferry back.

Suomenlinna ferry approaching the dock

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Suomenlinna ferry approaching the dock

Once I got back, I walked up the eastern edge of the city and out to small park. From here I could see some large ships, which, when I searched the name, turn out to be icebreakers. I guess it won’t be long before they are off up to the arctic…

There was also another damn turtle. I then headed across town towards the Rock Church, on the way spotting a metal dome on top of what looked to be apartments.

Kontio- Finnish ice-breaking ship

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Kontio- Finnish ice-breaking ship

Another Helsinki Turtle

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Another Helsinki Turtle

Domed roof on an apartment building

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Domed roof on an apartment building

The rock church is nothing to do with worshipping Iron Maiden – it’s a church carved out of bedrock, and topped by a large copper dome. Quite a sight, although they were tuning the organ while I was there which was not a pleasant sound.

Copper lined roof of the Rock Church

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Copper lined roof of the Rock Church

Inside Temppeliaukio Church (the Rock Church

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Inside Temppeliaukio Church (the Rock Church

Outside the Rock Church with the dome poking up

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Outside the Rock Church with the dome poking up

After that I grabbed some dinner, and then wandered back to the hotel, stopping for a quick photo from the bridge just after the sun had gone down.

Just after sunset from the bridge at Pitkasilta

16mm, f/5.6, 1/2.5 sec, ISO200
Just after sunset from the bridge at Pitkasilta


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Most of today I spent at Suomenlinna – a handful of islands a 15 minute boat-ride away that were a coastal fortress. Originally built by...

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Most of today I spent at Suomenlinna – a handful of islands a 15 minute boat-ride away that were a coastal fortress. Originally built by...

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