Saturday, November 23, 2013

Passing a fortress

While waiting for the winter to arrive – not that we would like the colder weather but the days might be a bit brighter and lighter with some snow – we have been trying to keep ourselves active in our attempt to postpone the inevitable hibernation phase as much as possible. The other day we took a trip to Tallinn.


I made sure to book tickets on the Viking Line ferry using the Katajanokka port in downtown Helsinki. It was raining of course but I could just about stand the cold wind on the side deck and take a few photos of the small islands off Helsinki and of the nearby Suomenlinna fortress islands.


The Naval Academy.
The Fortress of Suomenlinna is a unique monument of military architecture and a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site. The bastion fortress was built in the late 18th century and served as a garrison until the early 1970s. Since then six kilometres of walls and some 200 buildings have been restored.


Suomenlinna is one of Finland’s most popular sights with more than 700,000 annual visits. It is also a district of Helsinki and home to some 850 people. However, there are only 13 private buildings on the islands. Instead, there are 330 state-owned apartments, about 100 of which are reserved for the defense administration. The remaining 200 are leased through a special application procedure based on neither social grounds nor a waiting list.



Needless to say, there will be an apartment available only extremely rarely. And even when there is one you must be fabulously lucky to possess the kind of a profile the community is looking for at that particular moment. I can’t imagine anyone having been chosen as a tenant would want to leave this picturesque village only a 15-minute ferry ride away from downtown Helsinki. I certainly wouldn’t.

PS Last autumn we travelled to Tallinn two months earlier returning at sunset. See my post on that here.

A few of the private ones, I assume. More than a dream come true, a jackpot I'd say.



11 comments:

  1. Suomenlinnassa en ole vielä koskaan käynyt, mutta haaveissa on. Ehkä ensi kesänä, kun on enemmän vapaata osa-aikaeläkkeelle siirtymisen myötä!Hienot kuvat.

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    1. Meidänkin tulee käytyä tosi harvoin, vaikka aina ennen kesäkautta suunnitellaan. Jotenkin ne kesät vain aina hurahtavat...

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  2. It is lovely to see and learn more about your lovely country. The island with the fortress must be an amazing place to visit. So close to Helenski but almost in a different world. The views must be amazing! Your sunsets from your previous trip must have been ending to your day out.
    Sarah x

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    1. The island is a very popular place for picnics in the summertime. It's a shame it's been years since we went there although we keep planning every summer.

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  3. What a beautiful place! I am most curious as to what kind of profile they would be looking for to get an apartment here....

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    1. Because of the World Heritage status, the aim is to maintain a community structure that would be characteristic to an old garrison town. So I suppose the preferred profile for a newcomer will depend on what kind of a void the person or family moving away will leave in the community both professionally, socially and age-wise. Priority is given to such applicants who can somehow contribute to the care or services of the fortress. So if you are a conservator of some sort or a gardener, for example, you might be chosen. I'd reckon an artist, artisan or craftsperson would also have pretty good chances. Office workers like me would probably not be lucky, unless there was a particular position available they'd like to fill at the same time... A tricky business I don't have any actual insight into but I believe my perception is not too far from the truth.

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  4. The island in the fourth photo is Lonna. It'll open to public soon. Next summer there will be at least some retail, a restaurant and conference space. Then later on a public sauna, bbq facilities, spa and whatnot. Their introductory video is pretty smooth: http://www.lonna.fi/

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  5. P.S. We'll drag you to Suomenlinna next summer :)

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    1. Looking forward to this! Thanks for the video tip, Lonna is looking good! Too bad he left his small motor boat for his son... BTW, his ideal place to live would be the small and rough Ryssänsaari in the second and third photo.

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  6. Your photos are beautiful, I always enjoy reading your posts too. I couldn't help noticing how close to the water those houses seem to be, do they ever flood?

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    1. Thank you. Paula. We never have floods that would affect the seaside as we don't have the tides up here. Our floods occur in the low fields inland by the rivers when there is heavy rainfall or if winter snow melts too rapidly for the soil to absorb it.

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