Helsinki Art Museum and Cathedral

I’m reading the entertaining A Short History of Finland (by J Clements, 2022) at the moment. The book mentions Espoo, which, this morning, we passed through on the way to Haltia. The book includes some of the many myths and legends of Finland.

During a period in Scandinavian history, called the Kalmar Union (1397-1523), Denmark, Norway, and Sweden were under one ruler. Finland, at the time, was part of Sweden’s eastern region and isolated. This isolation was exacerbated during the Black Death, which killed a third of Sweden’s population. According to one folktale, everyone in Espoo died except for a girl and a monk. When the plague claimed the monk too, the girl climbed the church tower and rang the bell in his memory, making her presence known to the only other survivor in the area, her future husband. Like Adam and Eve, the couple became ancestors of future residents of Espoo.

In the afternoon, we went to the Helsinki Art Museum (HAM). There were some interesting displays although nothing unmissable. I learnt that the person behind the Moonins, Tove Jansson, was an artist as well as a writer (amongst other things). Some of her artwork was on display in the gallery.

Somewhat unusually, the museum sits above a multiplex cinema. The smell of the popcorn sometimes makes its way into the museum! Unlike the UK, when buying popcorn at the cinema, it’s not scooped up in front of you from the popcorn machine but sits in open boxes in glassed cupboards and you help yourself.

Taking in more of the beautiful Helsinki architecture on the way, we next went to Helsinki Cathedral. This was a stunning building, enhanced by the light and sky at the time of day. It reminded me, in a small way, of the Taj Mahal. Like the Taj Mahal, it’s huge but doesn’t look it until you see it in front of you.

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