#8: Enjoy those stunning views from the Olympic Stadium Tower

All year, Architecture, Helsinki, Indoors, Museum, Olympics, Outdoors

One of the most important historical events which shaped the architecture and general urban development of Helsinki were the 1952 (!) Summer (!) Olympics.

Why the exclamation marks? Well, most venues – the Stadium, Velodrome, Rowing Stadium and a part of the Olympic Village were built between the years 1938-1940 since Helsinki was chosen as Olympic venue for the 1940 Olympics. Those never happened, as we all know. And as for the summer exclamation mark – I just wanted to point out that summer DOES exist in Finland. It only didn’t happen THIS year.

But back to the topic: most Olympics buildings/venues are elegant, painted white and combined with wooden details (benches, panelling, etc.). The simplicity and functionalist touch in contrast to summer blue sky create one of those stereotypical (but nevertheless beautiful) Finnish sights in the name of the blue-white colour combination. Simplicity purity, freshness, breeze, water and snow… you know.

If you had one place to visit it would have to be the stadium tower. A truly unique landmark – it makes an awesome orientation point and also a great viewing point (and a suicide point for pregnant lovers of German soldiers who would throw themselves from the tower in order to avoid the shame – that’s why they had to close the tower and suicide-proof it back in the days).

img_20140212_201325 (1)

Don’t worry, there is a lift so you don’t have have to climb those 72 meters. And it is safe, you can’t even access the open staircase and the viewing platform is behind high iron bars.

And the views are stunning… Töölö, Meilahti

DSC_8388

Töölönlahti, in the background Kallio
DSC_8392

Safety first!DSC_8395

Parking lot, Opera and the Centre.DSC_8399

DSC_8401

TöölöDSC_8409 DSC_8411

Töölön Kisahalli (Töölö Sports Hall)DSC_8412

However, you can still visit the Stadium Tower! It only costs a few Euro (3€/5€) and it is definitely worth it.

Please beware! The stadium and the tower will close in 2016 for renovation work. Hurry hurry!

More information: http://www.stadion.fi/visit-tower

Advertisements

#4: Enjoy a guided tool at KELA headqurters (by Alvar Aalto) – !free Alvar Aalto fans gift!

All year, Alvar Aalto, Architecture, Helsinki, Indoors, Museum

Hey, this one I’m particularly proud of – and ashamed of at the same time since I cannot, for love of V, find any pictures from the epic tour at KELA Headquarters.

Kela_hdqtrs_10

(Source: Wikipedia)

Now, those who have spent some time in Finland are loving this post already, so little it takes. The rest of you is wondering what on Earth is KELA. Well, KELA equals social insurance in Finland. It equals your magical personal number without which you mean nothing to the society (seriously though, your bank account details, your health care, your bonus card at K-supermarket, they all are linked to your personal number), confusion, dole, health care, queues, inefficient service, constant cuts … it also equals those adorable Maternity packages everybody has been envying Finnish mums for.

In other worse, everybody in Finland has their own passionate relationship with KELA. Visiting their HQ sounds like a brilliant way to spend your Friday afternoon, doesn’t it!

It is actually rather interesting. The building is orangey bricky and not too exciting at all from the outside, but then you start spotting the details, the door handles, the angles, colours, tiles, the light. There is a classic Aalto library in the building as well as a gym (no bull), a little chilling park area, oh and a really exciting canteen with some kind of innovative heating system which looks like dinner trays stuck to the ceiling. There is some introduction into 1920s communication technology and of course you will get to awe at those cute maternity packages from the past. It did not take more than an hour, and it was a true pleasure (although the guide kept abandoning us randomly and was not too knowledgable, but that did not matter too much in the end).

The building is located in Töölö and is reachable easily by tram or bus (Kansaneläkelaitos stop). I have not worked out the dates of the guided tours, let alone the English ones, but last time I checked it was 2pm every Monday and Friday during the summer season and by appointment 1.10.-31.3.

… oh and I promised you a gift! Well last time I went on the guided tour my camera died. Flat battery, argh, such a rookie mistake. I did indeed take some pictures with my phone, but those seem to be hiding in the gigabytes of data in this flat. Meh. I was feeling very “meh”, but then we were given a link to this beautiful publication with pictures and facts and it is all in English and I was really happy. And I’d love to share it with you, too.

More info: www.kela.fi, tel. 020 63411 (should work), viestinta (at) kela.fi ; the address is Nordenskiöldinkatu 12

#1 Visit väestönsuojelumuseo (Museum of Civil Defence)

All year, Autumn, Helsinki, Indoors, Museum, Spring, Winter

At the beginning I did not want to add museums to the list ’cause I thought it was plain cheating – anybody can google “(free) museums in Helsinki” and, well, go for it. And indeed some of these museums are very good! I’d particularly recommend the City of Helsinki Museums (http://www.helsinginkaupunginmuseo.fi/en/museums/), especially the Museum of Workers’ Housing. It is awesome, located close to Kallio and the Alppila/Lenin Park.

The place I had in mind is truly special – hidden away and overlooking another gem, the Merihaka estate, run by volunteers and open only at certain Saturdays throughout autumn, winter and spring. I confess I’m not too much into the whole War and sharing this particular historical memory (which is really important to Finns. Having said that, you can probably sense that someone has “suggested” this place as suitable for the blog), for example I would never pay for the Musuem of War in Helsinki, but I fell in love with THIS place. It was so sincere, the guides share their and their families’ stories with you, the exhibits are mostly donations from ordinary people – oh and you learn a lot about home safety if you please. Abundant in pictures of pre-war and ww2-Helsinki, it helps one to connect with the city, with its history and architecture, well, trust me, it is a great place to visit. Oh and if you are lucky, you will meet the largest dog in like, the world. She belongs to one of the guides, the blond firefighter (probably called Teemu or Juha, as if there were any other male names in Finland).

DSC_8418

DSC_8421

DSC_8422

And some contact details: Siltavuorenranta 16 B, http://hvssy.fi/museo/