Back to Helsinki – by Jens Hoffmann
Helsinki is a real cosmopolitan and design fascinated city on the Baltic. The sea around Helsinki is dotted by close to 400 islands, some large, some no bigger than a pick-up truck, which must have proved problematic for early seafarers.
In town, expansive Senate Square and its surrounding buildings are the oldest part of central Helsinki. Much of the square’s Neoclassic architecture resembles that of St. Petersburg because after the Russian emperor annexed Finland, he commissioned the same architect who previously worked in the then-Russian capital, Carl Engel, to work on Finnish projects.
The massive Helsinki Cathedral dominates the square, its series of stairs a popular place for the younger crowd to sit and socialize. The square is also a point of departure for hop-on, hop-off bus tours. Then we went to the rock church, plans called for blasting the church out of native bedrock in the Toolo section of town. World War II brought things to a standstill, but the “Church of the Rock” finally opened in 1969. As many as a half millions visitors get to enter the church — cited as one of the city’s most important architectural treasures gaze up at its copper dome and watch as the sunlight pours through the line of windows beneath the dome.
I enjoyed the Sibelius Monument which honors Finland’s most heralded composers. Looking forward to come over to his 150th birthday in 2015.
An abstract structure made of a wave of 600 hollow steel pipes, the monument tries to capture the essence of Sibelius’ music and also allows visitors to interact with the structure by making sounds and echoes in the pipes.
Helsinki hosted the 1952 Summer Olympics, with most of the games centered in the Olympic Stadium, considered by many to be the world’s most beautiful. Originally intended to host the 1940 Olympics, the stadium’s construction began in 1934, but World War II prompted the cancellation of the games. Today, the stadium’s 238-foot tall tower is open to visitors and boasts some of the best views of the city. Culture vultures might want to visit the Ateneum, Finland’s national art gallery, located across from the Central Railway station, itself one of Finland’s most renowned buildings, designed by Eliel Saarinen. In addition to showcasing Finnish art from the 1750s and Western art starting with the mid 1800s, the Ateneum was showing at the time of my visit the legendary fantastic Tove Jansson exhibition
Besides being a city of beauty and grace, Helsinki has been designated one of the world’s most livable.
Flashback to the 100th birthday of Tove Jansson.
Tove’s great moomins are everywhere, lovely, just great and world famous. Mrs. Jansson is the Moomins founder and one of the most successful children’s book illustrator in the world.
For me personal, she is my “Miss Finnland”, I am in love with her illustrations and for me she is the most famous finish woman.
Tove’s grew up in an artistic household in Helsinki. Her father was a sculptor and her Swedish mother an illustrator. She studied art in cities like eg Stockholm, Helsinki, Paris and Rome. Before WW2 she returned to Finland. The war had obviously a great effect on her and her first Moomin book with the title The Moomins and the Great Flood. It was published in 1945. Tove’s was depressed of the war and stupid men. This was mirrored in her first books, writing a children’s book about a great flood is defintely unusual. There are descriptions of mommies leaving their homes, just like in Helsinki where people leaving their homes for fear of the bombs. You can find this themes in her books, although they look really friendly.
Tove’s breakthrough came later on when her book – Finn Family Moomintroll – was translated into English. Two new characters, Thingumy and Bob appeared in that book. The pair represent Tove Jansson and a married woman, Vivicka Bandler, with whom she had a passionate love affair. Homosexuality was illegal in Finland at the time, so everything had to be kept secret. Her books are an instant hit and enomous success. Requests for Moomin-related projects came flooding in. Walt Disney asked for exclusive rights to the word “Moomin”, but Jansson refused. Before long, though, the comic strip started to get her down. She constantly needed new ideas to sustain it, leaving her with little time for painting and writing. “Those damn Moomins,” she wrote in her notes.
Since the Moomins and the Great Flood in 1945, more than 15 million Moomin books have been sold, around the world. Today, Moomin Characters, the company is one of the most profitable companies in Finland.
We enjoyed it so much.
About the press trip:
I was invited by Visit Finland