Antique Jewish Cemetery

18.05.2008 at 20:58 | Posted in History, Walk Route | 10 Comments
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According to Jewish tradition cemeteries are established for eternity – they cannot be removed nor can the graves be exhumed. This old Jewish graveyard, located within the large Hietaniemi cemetery, is fenced off and not in use any more. In theory it can be accessed from Lapilahdentie street but the gate was locked shut so I had to photograph from behind the fence. As I read on the website of the Jewish Community in Helsinki “Finnish Jewish history effectively began in the first half of the 19th century when Jewish soldiers (so-called cantonists), who served in the Russian Army in Finland, were permitted to stay in Finland by the Russian military authorities following the soldiers’ discharge.” The cemetery can’t thus be older than 200 years. Before that Jewish settlement on Finnish territory was forbidden in conformity with Swedish law.

The old Jewish graveyard is nowadays contained within the Islamic cemetery which was officially established in 1871 and was then the first Islamic cemetery in Finland. Currently the oldest grave on the Islamic side dates from 1916 and belongs to a Cossack named Gafur Kangachlin. He served in the 5th sotnia of the 8th Orenburg cavalry regiment. [Re-edited 22.05.]


Suomenlinna Tunnel

7.05.2008 at 15:49 | Posted in Architecture, History, Industrial, NotBeen but WannaGo, Strange | 7 Comments
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Although it is by no means a secret not everyone knows there’s a tunnel connection from the Suomenlinna island to mainland Helsinki. The 1300 metre long tunnel starts in northern Länsi-Mustasaari island and comes out in south-eastern Kaivopuisto by the Läntinen Puistotie street. Apart from providing the islands with hot water the tunnel serves as an emergency route for ambulances, fire brigade and police. The tunnel is nested 63 metres below sea level half of which is rock and half water. About 500 cubic metres of seawater seep into the tunnel every day and have to be constantly pumped out.

photo source

The Suomenlinna tunnel is only one of very many underground passages drilled in the rock underneath Helsinki. There are public transport tunnels like the metro tunnel from Sörnäinen to Ruoholahti, there are numerous sewage tunnels and there is also a system of tunnels connecting Helsinki’s central hospitals that can be used to transport soldiers and medical equipment. The water in Helsinki is brought from the Päijänne lake by means of a 120km long tunnel dug 10-100m deep in the rock.

Read Hugo’s comprehensive comment to find out more about underground Helsinki.

Taikalamppu Café

5.05.2008 at 15:14 | Posted in For Coffee or Tea, Go At Least Once, Show a Foreign Friend, Where to Read a Book | Leave a comment
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This café is a true rarity in Helsinki as it would be difficult to find an equally colourful and joyous interior anywhere near at this latitude. There’s a piano, chairs and tables in all colours and styles, drawings and decorations all over the walls and plenty of plants everywhere. The two windows and entrance are facing eastwards so during summer season it’s best to come during the first half of the day and enjoy your cake, coffee and newspaper outside in the sun. The name means ‘magic lamp’ (rightly so) and the address is Torkkelinkatu 21 in Kallio which you can see on the map here. Enjoy!

Did I mention it’s cheap? How about some home-made cake with a chunk of ice cream for 2,50! Add a euro to that and you get a coffee too.

Heinähattu Pub

28.04.2008 at 0:18 | Posted in Beer/Drink Place | 2 Comments
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Heinähattu is a small pub on Kallio’s famous Vaasankatu street under the number 23. It has posters and magazine snippets plastered all over the walls and the music (rock) is played exclusively from a jukebox. I like to stop by for a Synebrichoff Porter (my favourite Finnish beer apart from sahti) which costs here 3,50€. The bottle is small but the beer is good and strong so it pays off.
Click here to get to the porter with the help of a map.

Mysterious Railway Link

24.04.2008 at 23:43 | Posted in Industrial, Railroad, Strange, Walk Route | 4 Comments
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I’ve spotted this mysterious railway track while riding the ‘Jokeri’ bus line number 550 between Itäkeskus and Oulunkylä. In one place the bus actually uses a narrow, old railroad bridge to cross the Vantaanjoki river (see photo below). The track doesn’t look like it’s often used but it seems to be well-kept and operational. It’s linking the metro line with the VR railroads (via warehouses in the Roihupello industrial area) so it could be used to bring metro wagons from production facilities but I also wonder whether it has any strategic meaning (e.g. to transport arms/equipment to the east of Helsinki).

Update: A lot of things got cleared out after a comment from Kalle.
See comments for an update about the history and purpose of these tracks.

Here’s a map showing where the track used to end in Herttoniemi.

Here’s the whole track in the year 1964.

The destruction of industrial Herttoniemi is documented here.

Try to find the track on a larger map.

Russian Pelmenit – Пельмени

22.04.2008 at 20:06 | Posted in Show a Foreign Friend, Where to Eat | 3 Comments
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At Kustaankatu 7, just off Kallio’s famous Vaasankatu, is this small and cozy Embassy of Eastern Cuisine called Pelmenit.
The chef ran to the kitchen to put on a clean uniform for the photo and proudly displayed the speciality of the place. He told me the food in Pelmenit is a bit Russian, a bit Ukrainian, a bit Finnish and a bit Jewish. For 5-6€ you can get a plateful of pelmeni (dumplings) or a big bowl of thick, delicious borscht (Ukrainian style accoding to my knowledge). I also recommend the vegetarian bliny. Click here to find them on the map.

Vintage Railway Stations

21.04.2008 at 21:59 | Posted in Railroad, Walk Route | 3 Comments

In many locations around Finland you can see old, wooden houses (or sometimes made of brick) next to the railways that are still functioning as station buildings. Below are photos of a few of them that remain in Helsinki though they are not in use any more. Among them is the old Pasila railway station that, in order to be preserved, has been entirely moved to a different location a few hundred metres off the rail track.
These old stations make a very pleasant and sensible counterbalance to the functionalist steel structures of the modern stations. Especially in busy areas, they are loosing their function and becoming obsolete but it is nice to see when they are re-adapted to new functions like the one in Huopalahti that houses a café.

Old Pasila station. Locate it on the map.

Old Oulunkylä station. Locate it on the map.

Old Huopalahti station. Locate it on the map.

Lemon Grass – Thai Cuisine

5.04.2008 at 17:26 | Posted in Go At Least Once, Where to Eat | 5 Comments
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Lemon Grass is one of my recent culinary discoveries in Kallio and a very valuable one. In fact there aren’t too many good asian restaurants in Helsinki so it was a pleasant surprise to receive a delicious Thai meal for the modest price of only about 10€. Kind service is always welcome too.
The place is located near the Hakaniemi metro station at Kolmas Linja 12.
Click here to see it on the map.

Downtown Fire Depot

10.02.2008 at 19:35 | Posted in Architecture, History, Industrial, Museum, Tourism | Leave a comment
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Fire Depot Fire Depot

Helsinki’s oldest used fire depot. It was erected in 1891 from a design by architect Theodor Höijer. Apart from a fairly interesting museum the building can boast a 42 metres tall tower. Although the height is not too impressive in regard to other cities around the world it is tall enough for Helsinki standards to provide a great view over the entire city and the sea.
Now getting on the tower might be a bit tricky because they open it only on certain days so it needs a bit of arranging with the firemen. Check the location of the depot on a map.

Vegemesta Restaurant

27.01.2008 at 21:57 | Posted in Go At Least Once, Show a Foreign Friend, Where to Eat | 1 Comment
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Vegemesta Vegemesta

Finally something good, healthy and cheap for all the poor souls lost on a late evening around Kallio. Only 3 months old this vegetarian quality fast food is already a hit among guests and residents of the popular Vaasankatu street. My favourite so far is the Kippari Sojaburger – the perfect snack after a tasty Synebrichoff Porter further down at Heinähattu. Use this map to find your way to the burgers.

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