June 29, 2012

The White City Of North

June 29, 2012
A German architect, Carl Ludwig Engel (1778–1840), was called to build Helsinki as the new capital of the autonomic grand principality of Finland that was a part of Russian Empire from 1808 to 1917. Prior to, Finland had been under the Swedish occupation for six hundred years with a West coast town, Turku, as the centre of culture, trade, administration and education. After a devastating fire in 1827, the Royal Academy of Turku – the only university in the country – was relocated to Helsinki. It was around the university Engel designed the town, with the Helsinki Cathedral as a landmark, in neoclassical style to resemble St Petersburg. Despite of an intense russification of the era, Finnish (suomi) was recognized as a national language equal to Swedish for the first time in history and became instrumental in defining Finnish identity. In 1917, after the October revolution of Russia, Finland declared its independence.

In the early 1900s there was an upheaval of romantic nationalism. Much of Helsinki was built – even entire residential areas – in Art Nouveau style that was influenced by the mythological epic and oral folklore of Kalevala. It is not uncommon to see gnomes, elves and goblins being carved on the building walls.

Besides the renowned Finnish Art Nouveau (Jugend) master, Eliel Saarinen (1873-1950), Helsinki is better known by the work of Alvar Aalto (1898–1976). He was a pioneer of functionalism and drew the national mind closer to the Scandinavian clean lines and simplicity via architecture, design and art.

Below (left) a relief of Engel, on the Helsinki University plinth.
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My camera walk, yesterday, covered partially the neoclassical Helsinki and, kauppatori, a market square located by the harbour. I bought fresh peas, cauliflowers, baby potatoes and carrots, and will let you know what everyone here makes of them, at least once a summer, in the next post.

Thank you.

29 comments:

  1. Lovely pictures from my childhood summer town. Thank you for sharing!

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    1. How nice! Yes, lovely photos!

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  2. Mia, isn't Helsinki lovely in the summer!

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    1. Absolutely! Your post make me want to step on to the next ferry. (I'm in Sthlm.)

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  3. Amazing Photography!
    I'm in Love! :)

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  4. A fabulous place which I'd love to visit one day... Great architecture and lovely produces. Thanks for sharing your wonderful pictures with us.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  5. Wow, I definitely need to see Helsinki for myself someday soon. Thanks for sharing the lovely photos and the background information!

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  6. Hallo! I really love your blog, the photos, the food styling and everything!! A hug from Italy!

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  7. So beautiful Laksmi.....want to visit staright away!

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  8. So summer-y and so beautiful. Wish to visit some day.

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  9. Very beautiful photographs Lakshmi

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  10. I so so so miss Helsinki! Especially at this time of the year when it's at its best :)
    Thanks for the walk down the memory lane.

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  11. Your pictures make my heart weep. There is nothing better than Scandinavian summer. People are so happy and outgoing and everything is so beautiful and going to the forest and picking strawberries and then going to a lake that you have to yourself and so on. I seriously feel like crying a little. Perhaps I'm just being sentimental...

    I appreciate that you gave us some background info! I didn't know any of that.

    Your pictures are absolutely stunning and thank you for sharing them with us.

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  12. Yes, I really would like to know what you'll cook from tis tasty looking veggies :)
    Wonderful city - Helsinki. They not building such a gorgeous constructions.
    Greetings.

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  13. I forgot to wright - anymore. They not building such a gorgeous constructions anymore :)

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  14. What a wonderful city, what a wonderful photography.

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  15. Love all the photos, but particularly the rows of glistening vegetables.....so wonderful!

    Heidi

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  16. I'm glad you like Helsinki. It is such a provincial town, more like a village. There is something innocent about Finland: unassuming and quiet. Some call it boring.

    Erin - Scandinavia might be the place to be in the summer, but let me state a couple of facts that may ease up your nostalgia: there are billions of mosquitos and it was snowing a few days ago 300 km north from Helsinki. No kidding!

    Blu*M - you are right: the architecture we have seen since 1970's is dreadful. The change of values is visible. No matter how it is presented, the development of society is based on economic needs nowadays. And it shows!

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  17. oh! picture perfect and lively photographs, love ur blog :)
    xoxo

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  18. Hmm, you have a good point. I once visited a friend who wanted to go fishing at the nearby lake (east coast of "northern" Sweden) and I had to leave after a few minutes. Too many mosquitoes and in this same trip, it was snowing in May in central Sweden. So you make a good point. :)

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  19. WOW, stunning pics! I have never been there, but your pics are so vivid - I made me felt as if I have been there with you!

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  20. How beautiful is Helsinki in the summer! And the smell of the strawberries is just amazing! Thanks for the tour, reminds me of my visits to this beautiful city...:)

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  21. Beautiful!!!
    I want to be there.. Hopefully someday..

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  22. Beautiful! And that berry stand?! Gorgeous!

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  23. Oh, I love your picture story on Helsinki.

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  24. so, so lovely! thank you for sharing...ever the armchair traveler & gourmand.

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  25. What a beautiful post!

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  26. Beautiful pics, must plan a visit to Helsinki in the near future!

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  27. I am visiting your site after a long time, Lakshmi, and it is such joy! Missed seeing all this a lot.:)

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