Attractions In Finland

Wherever you go in Finland, you’ll discover that Finns have a rich and diverse cultural heritage. This is evident from the fact that there are seven UNESCO World Heritage sites to explore, and in virtually every town and city you’ll find museums and galleries galore.

Finnish National Opera

The Finnish National Opera is a national institution, being made up of the country’s only professional opera and ballet companies, the only professional choir in Finland, and the largest orchestra. The lavishness of its productions, and the professionalism of the performers and musicians has ensured that its status and reputation for high quality have been recognised and appreciated internationally.

Located by the edge of Töölönlahti Bay, the Opera House was designed by Hyvämäki-Karhunen-Parkkinen architects, and opened in 1993 . It is one of the finest modernist buildings in Helsinki, in my humble opinion, with walls that are finished in ceramic tile, render and natural stone, with the public spaces inside a mix of Carrara marble and red beech timbers. The main foyer features a glass wall that overlooks Töölönlahti Bay and Hesperia Park. The Opera House features state-of-the-art technology and two auditoriums: the main auditorium with 1,350 seats and a smaller studio auditorium with 300 to 500 seats.

As is the usual practice, most operas are performed in their original language, with translations in Finnish, Swedish and English being projected on a surtitling screen during performances. The Finnish National Opera puts on around 300 performances every year, with a repertoire that might include 15 operas and 9 ballets. It also organises recitals, free matinee concerts, events for kids and teenagers, and briefings with audiences where opera and ballet production teams discuss their work. The season begins in August and ends in June, so there is still plenty of productions and performances left to enjoy in the season.

Located alongside the Port of Turku, Turunlinna or Turku Castle has stood as a guardian at the mouth of the River Aura since the 1280s, and has, during its long history, functioned as a defensive bastion, a majestic court, an administrative centre, a prison, a store-house, and a military barracks. Today it is one of Turku’s most visited tourist attractions, and a source of considerable pride for the citizens of Finland’s oldest city.

Turku Castle has played a major role in Finland’s history, and has witnessed any number of dramatic events and turning points. The main exhibition tells of this rich history, over 800 years worth, from its earliest beginnings right up to the present. Visitors are encouraged to follow a well directed path through this immense site, taking in the countless rooms that are styled with periodic furniture, costumes, jewelry, and all manner of historical artifacts, showcasing the Castle Museum’s treasured collection. Along the way you’ll learn how life was lived here, how the castle’s residents celebrated, as well as coming to know the royal court and the lives of those who served them. Your journey takes you from the late Middle Ages, through the Renaissance, the Reformation, up to today.

Children will also find much to amuse them within Turku Castle‘s walls. One of the highlights of the exhibition are the life-sized dolls of, among others, Duke John & Catherine Jagellon, 15th century Turku merchant Valpuri Innamaa, and the castle’s sausage maker, Pylsy-Elina. They will also discover that in the Knight’s Hall of the Children’s Castle they can dress up as a knight or princess and play at being a part of a medieval court. There are Little Knight tours, as well as the Castle Workshop, the mini-court, and the Castle Elf’s treasure chamber. The trip through the castle can be thirsty work, and whet any appetite, but both can be satisfied in Duke John’s Cellar, which serves lunch and all kinds of beverages. Souvenirs can be purchased in the Fatabur Museum Shop.

A short walk up the river, Forum Marinum is a a lively and versatile centre for maritime activities, comprising a national special maritime museum, and the Finnish Navy Museum. Last month Forum Marinum opened its latest permanent exhibition, developed around the theme “working on the sea” through different persons’ perspectives and their tasks and work on the sea and in the navy. Visitors can explore various experiences from cabin boys to officers, not forgetting the women working on the ships as well.

The new permanent exhibition takes up more than 850 square meters, and it covers large concepts, including the history of Finnish Navy and Finnish South-West maritime trade. Other themes include the culture and history of maritime rescue and the Coast Guard, professional sea fishing, farmers’ sailing trips and archipelago culture. The sea fishing theme also covers leisure fishing, which has not been exhibited in Finland before. The Navy exhibition has been renewed to include the complete history of the Finnish Navy, as well as coastal artillery and coastal infantry.

The museum provides several interesting temporary exhibitions during a year and displays also a very interesting boat collection. The maritime centre has a considerable collection of museum vessels: two tall sail ships, four naval ships and several smaller vessels, ranging from a steam harbour tugboat to a police boat. The museum ships are open during the summer months only, while the exhibitions are open throughout the year.