Helsinki – The Presidential Palace
Finland turns 100 years in December and to celebrate it, has promoted several events. They have opened the celebrations with the new year and since then, the festive schedule is quite extensive!
A week and a half ago, I had the opportunity to visit the Presidential Palace in Helsinki. The event lasted for 3 days – from Thursday to Saturday – and it is rare to them to open the Palace for visitation. The last time they did it was 2015.
I decided to go on Friday, because I thought it would be smoother. In fact it was, but after all the queue drama I shared in my Instagram stories (ah .. you still don’t follow me there? You’re missing it!) and be practically the last one to get in, everything ended well!
The Palace was opened in 1820 and is located opposite to the Market Square. It has a neoclassical architecture – of architect Pehr Granstedt – and a decoration, in my opinion, quite Finnish. I found many similarities in the colors and furnishings there with the things I saw on my visit to the museum in Porvoo. Besides, it’s very simple, without extravagance compared to other palaces in other countries.
In the early 19th Century, the site was storehouse stood and the whole lot was bought by a wealthy merchant named Johan Henrik Heudenstrauch who, between 1816 and 1820, built his residence. He lived with his family until 1837, when it was sold to be the Governor – General of Finland and ended up becoming the Imperial Palace of Helsinki. Several renovations were made and only in 1945 it got finished. However, even available to empire, it was an empty palace, which was never used. It remained like that for years and only in 1854, it began to receive the visit of the imperial family.
During World War I, it was converted into the Temporary Military Hospital of Helsinki.
However, with the revolution in 1917 and the abdication of the Tsar / Grand Duke, it ceased to be a hospital to become property of the Senate. With that, it was named the Former Imperial Palace. Moreover, it was in 1919 with the new constitution that ended up being designated as the official residence of the president and today, it is one of the official residences he occupies.
There were only a few rooms open to the public and it was a shame to have so little information in English. They set up some panels with pictures of several presidents and that was the only thing I could understand. The rest was all in Finnish and Swedish. There were also some staff explaining what some rooms were and answering questions, but all in Finnish. And it didn’t feel good to ask them to explain everything again in English.
I believe that if they had done some booklets with the palace history, telling what each room was, what that represented – for me at least – it would have been more worth it! They had only a clipboard with pictures of the art works given for the children.
To be honest, I had to look up for information on the internet to learn more about it and share it here. Anyway, I was very happy with the visit. It is a rare opportunity even for the Finns themselves.
What did you think? Tell me the comments!