Helsinki has a population of 604,000. The city is on a natural gateway to the main harbor, where ships from Stockholm and Tallinn, Estonia dock. At the top of the harbor is Market Square, an outdoor food and souvenir bazaar. Nearby are two towering landmarks: The white Lutheran Cathedral and the red-brick Orthodox Cathedral. Helsinki's grand pedestrian boulevard, the Esplanade, begins right at Market Square and ends after a few blocks in the central shopping district.
We visited the Sibelius Monument, located in a lovely park setting. It is six hundred stainless-steel pipes called "Love of Music". It is built on solid rock, as is so much of Finland. The artist, Eila Hiltunen, was forced to add a bust of the composer's face to silence critics of her otherwise abstract work.
We moved on to "The Church in the Rock". It is a modern example of great church architecture from 1969. It was blasted out of solid granite and built in a year's time. Barren of decor except for a couple of simple crosses and wooden benches, the church is capped with a copper-and-skylight dome. Look upward to see a 13-mile-long coil of copper ribbon.
We then went to the Library. We thought "why the library"? Well this is a modern up-to-date library. One floor of books of course; but another floor where you can use the 3-D printer; a recording studio; embroidery machines; computers; kitchen; meeting rooms; game rooms with video games, etc; an outdoor playground for children; etc. Amazing!!
The bus dropped us off at the Esplanade and we had licorice ice cream for lunch!!!
After our great lunch, we got on the ferry and sailed out to the Suomenlinna Fortress. This island fortress guards the Helsinki harbor and has served as a strategic fortress for three countries: Finland, Sweden and Russia. It is now a popular park, with walking paths and great views. It also has many museums: the Military Museum, Customs Museum, a Toy Museum. Other gems are the old Church, the Fortress Courtyard, the Dry Dock, the home of the original commander, the King's Gate. There are also 14 restaurants and cafes, lots of shopping, arts and crafts, library, theater, beach picnic shelters and saunas. And of course, conference and banquet facilities. Very nice.
Tonight was our Farewell Dinner for the people who aren't going on the Post-Trip to Stockholm, Sweden. We're going on to Stockholm. We fly out in the morning!!