If there’s a corner of Europe that blends together intriguing history and incredible architecture – as well as a thirst for coffee and woolly jumpers – it’s Scandinavia. Finland may not be as big as its neighbouring states in Norway or Sweden, but it’s just as fun to visit. In fact, many residents speak highly of their nation – and Helsinki just so happens to be the main city that Finnish people talk about.
Helsinki is a hotbed of culture and design despite not actually being much of a ‘hot’ anything else! Despite the rainy climate and the lack of sunshine at times, the city remains a popular pilgrimage for holidaymakers across Europe and even beyond.
If you’ve never visited Helsinki before, you may find the following facts and figures more than a little fascinating. Did you know that there was a capital of Finland before Helsinki? How many years did it take for Helsinki to host the Eurovision Song Contest for the first time? What’s more – who was tasked with pretty much rebuilding the city from scratch?
Keep reading and you’ll soon find out – let’s press on with our facts about Helsinki and see what puts it on the map.
Helsinki is the capital city of Finland. It is located on the southern part of the peninsula by the Gulf of Finland and the Bay containing a group of islands.
The city benefits from 8 Universities!
Helsinki is home to the headquarters of 70% of the foreign enterprises with commercial interests in Finland.
It is the coldest capital city in the world with average temperatures not going above ‘0’!
It is the largest city in Finland hosting a population of approximately 588,000.
The city is home to six technology and science parks!
Helsinki is known as a ‘City of Bridges’. There are 300 islands connected by a number of bridges!
Approximately 11,000 ‘moorings’ are available for boat users who regularly use that form of transport to navigate to and from the islands!
Approximately 120 days see the umbrellas come out, due to regular rainfall!
For approximately six weeks per year, the sun is not seen at all in Helsinki. Probably best leaving the sun tan lotion at home, then!
The longest tunnel in the world delivers spring water directly to homes in the vicinity of Helsinki!
Water is a major export from Helsinki, due to its quality being so high. Saudi Arabia has long been a customer for this product!
Granite slabs on the walkways of Helsinki are heated to prevent snow and ice causing a slippery risk to pedestrians in the city!
The surface area of the city covers 276 square miles.
Many buildings in the city are constructed from local white granite and so the city is sometimes referred to as ‘White City’.
The highest point of the city on which people can walk is a man-made hill. It reaches a height of 295 feet and is located in the district known as Malminkartano.
In 1809, Helsinki was captured by Russia when Finland was invaded.
In 1812, Helsinki was designated ‘Capital of the autonomous duchy of Finland’.
King Gustav of Sweden had established Helsinki as a trading Centre in 1550.
The oldest part of the city is the central square which is surrounded by beautiful historic buildings. These include the University, the Cathedral and Government Buildings.
The central square is known as ‘The Senate’.
The landmark ‘Church of the Rock’ also known as ‘Rock Church’, is a relatively recent feature of the city. The Lutheran Church was carved out of the rock and opened in 1969! It is of considerable architectural interest as well as appealing to worshippers and theology students.
The Castle of Finland became a UNESCO World Heritage Site, having been constructed as a fortress in 1748 as a Defence against the Russians.
The Castle is unique in that it is built on six islands. It is a major tourist attraction and features on many souvenirs of the city. It is known as ‘Sveaborg’ by the locals, which literally translated means ‘Castle of Finland’.
All kinds of music are popular in Finland – the Helsinki Music Centre as well as the Finlandia Concert Hall and the Finnish Opera are popular venues concerts and productions attended by local residents and tourists.
In the Nordic Countries, Helsinki is the third largest city after Oslo and Stockholm.
An annual ‘Arts and Cultural Festival’ is held in Helsinki, every August.
Helsinki is home to The National Museum of Finland. As you would expect, many important exhibits, including maps, books and artifacts can be found there. It also houses many exhibits from prehistoric times!
Helsinki was rebuilt in 1808 following the destruction by fire of almost one third of the city!
Carl Ludwig Engel was commissioned to undertake the project of rebuilding Helsinki, and his excellent work is clear to see today. Beautiful parks and wide level paths lead walkers past neo classical and highly graceful buildings.
The 52nd Eurovision Song Contest was held in Helsinki. Finland won the contest for the first time in its history thanks to metal band Lordi, who were runaway winners in 2016 with ‘Hard Rock Halleluiah’.
In 2012, Helsinki was acknowledged as the ‘World Design Capital’!
In 1952, Helsinki was chosen to host the summer Olympic Games. A bit of an interesting choice given the climate!
Prior to 1812, Helsinki was not the capital of Finland. That title went to ‘Turku’.
Preferring the capital was closer to Saint Petersburg, Alexander the First of Russia declared Helsinki the new capital in 1812!
‘Stadi’ is a common slang term in Helsinki from the Swedish meaning ‘city’ – locals often use the expression to refer to the capital.
Helsinki is sometimes referred to as ‘the daughter of the Baltic’.
Helsinki is also the most Northern European capital.
Do you have any interesting or fun facts about Helsinki that we’ve missed? Share them here in the comments section below!