Saturday, 7 May 2016

Finland Part 17: A Walking Tour Of Helsinki

It was my last day in Helsinki. With only 3 hours left before checking out of the hotel, the best viable thing to do is a walking tour around the hotel vicinity. Helsinki is actually alien to me and other than the attractions our tour guide brought us to the day before, I had little inkling about how best to spend my last hours in the city.
I found a companion in my tour group who, though very different from me, shared similar travel interests. Shopping is not our priority. We both love photography, we love to explore new corners and we both appreciate the small small things that we see. And that was reason enough to click and set off a wandering together. We were told the Old Market Hall is worth seeing so that became our priority destination. All other things we saw or visited along the way were rather unplanned.

Esplanade Park
While searching for Old Market Hall, we walked through  Esplanade Park. Opened in 1812, this heritage park is a long stretch of city park bordered by two streets, Pohjoisesplanadi and Etelaesplanadi. The trees were naked and much of the park was covered with snow but the park still exude charm and character.
There are a number of prominent monuments and statues in the park. Seen here is the statue of Finland's national poet, Johan Ludvig Runenberg. At his foot is the patron muse of Finnish poetry.
Lining the parallel streets are old gorgeous looking buildings. 
On display is a little replica of a 19th century Finnish architecture.
 I'm not too sure what this is other than the fact that it looks very cute.
Somewhere in the middle of the park is Espan Lava, a venue for live music performance.
We occasionally came across thought provoking statues like this.
Towards the end of the park is Kapelli Restaurant which serves classical Finnish cuisines with 140 years worth of experience.

Old Market Hall 
(Vanha Kauppahalli)
After walking a distance of 1.6km, we finally arrived at Etelaranta where the Old Market Hall is located.  Awe-struck by its beauty and vibrant colours I stood to gaze and admire the building from far and  near.
This indoor covered market, designed by Gustaf Nystrom was opened in 1889.
Beautiful outside and equally beautiful inside, I find it hard to believe this elegant and well maintained marketplace is already 130 years old. There are two hallways, each sandwiched by 2 rows of neat looking stalls. They converge at the centre, a spacious hall dedicated to restaurants and cafes.
Open everyday except Sundays from 8am to 6pm, one can get almost everything here.
There are fresh garden produce, diary products, meat, seafood, wine and alcoholic beverages, coffee, tea, spices, snacks, cakes and pastries, many types of delicacies and even non-foodstuff.
Each stall is tastefully set up.

There are plenty of mouth-watering local delicacies.
Foodstuff are well presented and can make passers-by drool just gazing at them.

South Harbour
The Old market Hall is located by the harbour. Ships and boats were seen docking on the semi-frozen sea. We took a walk along the harbour till we reached Kauppatori Market Square.

Kauppatori Market Square
Located at South Harbour, Kauppatori Market Square is a spacious square where vendors display their wares.
The stalls are open-air and among the wares sold that day were authentic Finnish handicrafts, souvenirs, hats, postcards, bags, soft toys and attires.

In the vicinity of the market square stood a prominent nude female statue of Havis Amanda and a fountain.
Also prominent in the square is an obelisk with a double headed eagle.
We saw a magnanimous building from the square and headed in the direction to visit it.

Uspenski Cathedral
Uspenski Cathedral can be considered the largest orthodox church in Western Europe. Built in 1868 this remarkable building is conspicuous from afar as it stands on a hill. It has 13 green and gold cupolas or onion domes representing Christ and his 12 disciples.
To reach this cathedral we had to cross a bridge.
The cathedral was closed when we visited it.

Senate Square & Helsinki Cathedral Revisited
We visited Senate Square the day before and stumbled upon it again during our walking tour. During this revisit the weather was a lot finer and so was our mood.
At Senate Square: Helsinki Cathedral and the statue of Tsar Alexander II

Colorful Buildings & Beautiful Streets Of Helsinki
Helsinki is a colorful city full of heritage as well as state-of-the-art buildings.

Kiasma, a museum of contemporary art is a unique contemporary building.
Helsinki is also full of surprises. The curved orange building is actually a chapel where one can seek solace in the midst of the city's hustle and bustle. Kamppi Chapel also known as the Chapel Of Silence in located in Narinkka Square, just behind my hotel.
Inside Kamppi Chapel
A contemporary monument in Narinkka Square
We reached our hotel ground and that marked the end of our memorable walking tour.

Finland Part 7: Cumulus Kemi, My Hotel in Kemi
Finland Part 19: Brief Review Of The Original Sokos Hotel Presidentti, Helsinki

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