Helsinki is “Nokialand”, how could we forget! Just as we leave Stockmann we’re welcomed by a Nokia shop. But did you know that Nokia is derived from the name of a river? In 1865 the engineer Knut Fredrik Idestam created a sawmill whose facilities for woodworking and pulp exploited the current of the river. By the end of the century the company was endowed with an electric plant.
In the early twentieth century, a leader in the manufacturing of rubber boots was attracted by the energy produced by the river. The Finnish Rubber Company established its manufacturing facilities nearby and began using Nokia as a trademark. Shortly after the First World War, the Finnish Society of rubber – which at one point became the most important supplier of Army boots – bought the plant for the processing of wood. In 1922 the two companies entered into a holding company with the main national industry of cables for telephone and telegraph.
The three companies merged in 1967, forming today’s Nokia.
As we arrive to the train station two mighty giants holding a globe were greeting us. They resembled the Egyptian paper mache statues at Fredrick house
I’m curious how many metro lines there are. Being a small city, it has only one metro line, branched into 2 lines in 2008. The tram also runs in the city. However, they say that the Finnish transport is one of the most expensive in Europe and costs the same as the French underground, with the difference that in Paris there are 14 lines of beauty.
We return to Fazer, but this time I focus on the white cathedral in Senate Square (Senaatintori). The Cathedral, called Tuomiokirkko, was erected in honor of the Grand Duke of Finland, Nicholas I, and in fact was called the church of St. Nicholas.
The plan is a Greek cross, and consists of a large green dome with four smaller domes at the sides. The project is by Carl Ludvig Engel, who also built the Orthodox Church of the Holy Trinity, and the intent was to create a climax in the architectural frame of neoclassical Senate Square. The Helsinki Cathedral was completed in 1852.
Every year between December 13 and December 17 they celebrate the coronation of St. Lucia (Lucy-Neito), which is personified by a different blond girl every year, symbol of light. Later, Saint Lucia is carried in procession in a carriage for Alexanderinkatu, the main street of Helsinki.
Unfortunately, there was a marriage ceremory when I was there, so I only got a small peek when the ceremony ended. However Fredrick assured me that it is in fact much more interesting from the outside. In fact, the church inside is white and bare. The cathedral is shaped after the Pantheon, with Doric columns and a huge dome, and according to the neoclassical canons, the white that you see outside is the same inside without too much pomp.
There are some buildings in art nouveau or as they call the Finns Jungenstil, such as the National Museum.
We took a break sitting on the steps because there is a concert on the square. The concert filled the square; it is probably a famous singer in Finland. He sang in Finnish and between the hand-clapping, the people singing along with him, I felt as if I were at a Eurovision night.
We stayed till the end of the concert. Later, we went into a gift shop where there was a reindeer with a sleigh and two little figures to fill. I chose to do a Finnish woman. People looked at me and starting laughing! But why were they laughing??!!???
We arrived to the Esplanade, a square with a fountain a mermaid and elephants seals on the corners: it’s the symbol of the city of Helsinki, the bronze statue dell’Havis Amanda. The female figure emerges from the water surrounded by fish and sea lions perched on a fountain. It symbolizes the revival of the Finnish capital.
The sculpture was created by Ville in Paris and mounted in Vallgren Kauppatori in 1908, not without creating controversy groups of Finnish feminists who saw the outraged dignity of women, as the center of the square was exposed to a naked woman.
This statue is the protagonist of one of the most favorite holidays in Finland, Vappu, which is celebrated between April 30 and May 1.
The Vappu is Labor Day weekend, like in Italy, but it is also the feast of the students because it marks the end of the school. In Helsinki the chosen university students give rise to a particular ceremony, as they should wash the statue dell’Havis Amanda and crown it with lakki the typical white hat with black visor.
I also read that according to a legend, if men wash their face with water from the fountain dell’Havis Amanda, it could enhance their manhood. Well, that could be good for me, so I can recover from the fatigue of my journey. I wonder if tomorrow I awake with a deep voice and manly enough to pick Thor’s hammer in my hands!
We entered the covered market, in Finnish Vanha Kauppahalli and even though my Swedish guide was getting tired he explained to me about the typical products, such as cheese and the myriad of fish that are virtually unknown to me. Also they had a multitude of different types of salmon. Despite their traditions there are kiosks selling Japanese, Greek gyros and Italian products. Not to mention the Kebab, but they are not exactly like the Turkish. In fact, the meat is REINDEER!
We remain a few moments to admire the ship out before boarding.