While the Song Festival Grounds host big pop-music acts, too, they're a national monument for the compelling role they played in Estonia's fight for independence (grounds are free, open long hours). Vabamu Museum of Occupations and Freedom This compact museum tells the history of Estonia during the decades it was under oppressive rule — first by the Soviets (for one year), then by the Nazis (for three years), and then again by the USSR (for nearly 50 years).
In the north of Europe, the Baltic Sea is ringed by Russia, the Baltic nations, and the Scandinavian nations. We start in Finland's capital, Helsinki, and then ferry to Estonia's capital, Tallinn. Helsinki is the only European capital with no medieval past. It was founded and ruled by the Swedes in the 16th century to be a strategic Baltic port. But the location was poor and it never amounted to more than a village. Then, in the 18th century, the Swedes built a huge fortress in the harbor, and Helsinki grew and prospered. Today, with over half a million people, Helsinki is by far Finland's leading city. In spite of its Swedish roots, old Helsinki feels Russian. That's because when the Russians took over Finland in 1809 they made it Finland's capital, modeled after their capital, St.
The monument is built on solid rock, as is so much of Finland. Sibelius, who composed in the late 19th century and early 20th, wrote music that stirred the national soul. His music — like paintings by Finland's romantic artists hanging in the national gallery [a. k. a. the Ateneum] — evokes the vast forest land, mythic legends, deep pagan roots, and heroic struggles of a stoic nation.
Lonely cabins cap glacier-ground granite. Finns are good at getting the most out of the long days of their short summer. Many have family cabins here, and a standard feature is a free-standing sauna. But you don't need a cabin to enjoy a sauna. At this neighborhood sauna the regulars gather daily. Each morning the wood fire is stoked. That afternoon — in parallel facilities — men and women come to relax.
Suomenlinna Fortress The island that guarded Helsinki's harbor for centuries is now a popular park, with delightful paths, fine views, and a visitors center. On a sunny day, it's a wonderful place to stroll among hulking buildings with recreating Finns. The island has one good museum and several skippable smaller museums, including a toy museum and several military museums. Lutheran Cathedral With its prominent green dome, gleaming white facade, and the 12 apostles overlooking the city and harbor, this church is Carl Ludvig Engel's masterpiece. The stark interior is pure architectural truth.
Music and art that is uniquely Finnish contribute to the staying power of this small country of five million. A selection of ferries make the 50-mile crossing between Helsinki and Tallinn nearly hourly. Because of the ease of this delightful two-hour cruise and the variety a quick trip over to Estonia adds to your Nordic travels, pairing Helsinki and Tallinn is a natural. Stepping off the boat in Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, you feel you've traveled a long way culturally from Finland. It's a mix of east and west. Tallinn's Nordic Lutheran culture and language connect it with Stockholm and Helsinki.
Finland beat Estonia Finland won by 11 runs Get the latest Finland vs Estonia live score in the Friendlies from
Its interior offers a rich experience. Icons of saints oversee flickering candles, which represent prayers of the Orthodox faithful. These plush Eastern images are a stark contrast to the spare Lutheran Cathedral. Helsinki is set in a natural wonderland. And hopping a boat tour for a 90-minute cruise makes that very clear. The several hundred islands of its archipelago provide a delightful playground. Leaving the harbor you pass mighty ice breakers in their summer slumber. With the capacity to break through 15 feet of ice, they're a reminder of the bitter Baltic winters.
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