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About This GigaPanToggle
- Taken by
- Ella Derbyshire
- Explore score
- 0.12 Gigapixels
- Date added
- August 21, 2008
- Date taken
- July 19, 2008
In 1748, using a design by Augustin Ehrensvärd, the Swedish government began construction of the Suomenlinna Sea Fortess on seven islands in the Gulf of Finland south of Helsinki. At the time, Finland was under Swedish rule and Helsinki was just a tiny seaside hamlet.
The Swedes occupied the fortification, which they called Sveaborg, for sixty years. They left in 1808 when Russia won the Finnish War. The Russians stayed and further fortified the islands, but they in turn left when Finland declared its independence in 1917. The Finnish military left the islands in 1973, leaving only one island in use by the Naval Academy today. The rest of the islands are now under civilian control.
Today this is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Over the last 3 decades, the islands have been carefully restored as an example of military architecture. The restoration is on a very grand scale, with major earthworks, as you see here, 8 kilometers of walls, 290 buildings, 105 cannons and even a dry dock for boat restoration. There is also a living community of about 800 residents in the barracks. Prisoners from Helsinki prison stay on the island providing manual labor.
The island is a great place to wander. There are old stables, a summer theater, museums, restaurants and shops. There are also interesting walks along the sea, some with excellent views of downtown Helsinki.
The restoration is supervised by the National Board of Antiquities and so far the cost is estimated at 100 million euros. They are almost 30 years into the planned 40-year restoration. Wander through this panorama and have a look at some of the accomplishments of those years.