Finland: holidays, events, national customs
There are a number of public holidays that do not have a fixed date but are based on the location of Easter. Easter takes place on the first Sunday that follows the first full moon after the beginning of spring. Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, which ends on Holy Saturday, is 46 days before Holy Saturday. The date for Pentecost is then 50 days after Easter. The Corpus Christi festival is celebrated on the 2nd Thursday after Pentecost. All Saints' Day is celebrated for Orthodox Christians on the 1st Sunday after Pentecost, but for Catholic Christians the date is fixed on November 1st. On October 31, Protestants celebrate Reformation Day. The Halloween festival also takes place on this day.
|January 1||New Year|
|1st of May||May Day|
|May||Ascension of Christ|
|25th June||Midsummer Night/Midsummer Day|
|November 1||All Saints Day|
|6th of December||Independence day|
Source: Countryaah - Finland Holidays
Festival The most important festival is the Midsummer Festival. It has its origin in an ancient fertility cult at the summer solstice, which after Christianization was equated with the memorial day of John the Baptist. Midsummer is mainly celebrated in the country, where the solstice bonfires are lit by the waters and folk dances are held in the open air.
Finnish Independence Day is celebrated on December 6th in white and blue. The Finnish flag is hoisted and blue and white candles are lit. In addition, pastry shops offer pastries and cakes in the national colors.
Fishing is a common sport in Finland. Even ice fishing is well received. Fishing is anchored in the "everyone's right" and is therefore allowed without a state tax. However, a state fishing tax must be paid. A regional fishing permit can be obtained from tourist offices, campsites or hotels.
The conditions for all kinds of water sports such as sailing, kayaking, rowing and swimming are ideal in Finland. There are also very good winter sports opportunities, especially for cross-country and ski enthusiasts. Husky safaris, reindeer sledding tours, and snowmobile expeditions are also offered.
Many hiking areas are marked by markings. Guided tours are also offered.
The Duzen is far more common in Finland than in Central Europe and is a friendly and uncomplicated form of address.
The Finnish national instrument is the kantele. There are two types of kantels: the first is a zither hollowed out of a block of wood, the second type is a box-shaped kantele.
Finland has very strict environmental laws and the Finns are very environmentally conscious. Half of all houses are connected to regional heating systems.
When getting married, both partners in Finland have the option to keep their original family name or to take that of the partner. Children can also have either of their parents' last names.
In the capital of Lapland, Rovaniemi, which lies directly on the Arctic Circle, is the "home" of Santa Claus. Every year around Christmas time, thousands of tourists come to the city. You can go reindeer sleighs here or go on sleighs pulled by huskies across the snowy landscape. In addition, millions of letters or postcards from children all over the world to Santa Claus arrive here every year. Every single letter is answered by "helpers" of the Santa Claus.
UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Church of Petäjävesi
Historic cardboard factory of Verla
Sammallahdenmäki cemetery with burial sites from the Bronze Age
Archipelago - Kvarken Archipelago
Finnish epic: The Kalevala
The Kalevala is a Finnish national epic, the first edition of which appeared in 1835. The author of this myth is the Finn by Elias Lönnrot (1802-1884), who retold the work on the basis of the orally transmitted Finnish mythology and songs. He had heard these traditions from runesingers on his travels through Finland and Karelia and then put them on paper. The work consists of 22,795 verses, which are divided into fifty chants and is one of the most important literary works in the Finnish language. Since the foreword to the epic appeared on February 28th, this day is celebrated every year in Finland as Kalevala Day. But after the first edition appeared, Lönnrot collected more songs and traditions and then published a second expanded edition in 1849, theNew Kalevala. This epic forms the basis of the Finnish understanding of the state, its nationality as well as its culture and language. Understanding the exaggeration of this work includes knowing that Finland had previously belonged to Russia as an autonomous Grand Duchy for 25 years and before that it was part of the Swedish Empire until 1809. Even then, the Finns raised the epic to the same level as Homer's Iliad and Odyssey or the Old Norse Edda. The first translation of the Kalevala into German appeared in 1852 - the latest in 2004 by Gisbert Jänicke. In 2010 the Kalevala turned 175 years old.
Verbatim adoption of the text of the Finnish embassy in Berlin (with their approval)
According to one interpretation, it is a mill that produces wealth, money, grain and salt. The blacksmith Ilmarinen forged the Sampo for the mistress of the north country in return for her daughter. The mistress of the north country hides the sampo who grinds riches for the north country people. This angered the residents of Kalevala, so that they invaded the north country and stole the Sampo. "
The Kalevala begins with the following song:
I have a great desire, I've thought for a long time about
singing, reciting verses while speaking,
remembering old wise men, brushing up on old knowledge.
Words are already forming
in my mouth, verses are coming again, rushing towards the tongue, parting on my teeth.
Dear brother and companion, who grew up
with me, come on, sing with me, come on speaking verses,
now that we are together, have come from afar.
We rarely find each other, one comes to the other,
in this wretched area, here in the gloomy north.
(Translation: Gisbert Jänicke, 2004)
Cities in Finland
You can find a detailed description of Helsinki at Goruma here.
You can find a detailed description of Tampere at Goruma here
Other cities with over 50,000 residents not (yet) shown at Goruma:
|name of the city||Population||Location of the city||Landscape|
|Oulu||130,000||Northwest Finla||Northern Ostrobothnia|
|Jyväskylä||131,000||south central Finla||Central Finla|
|Kuopio||90,000||Eastern Finla||North Savo|
|Lappeenranta||59,000||southern eastern Finla||South Karelia|
|Joensuu||58,000||Eastern Finla||North Karelia|
Santa Claus Village
Since 1985, Santa Claus has been located a few kilometers north of the city of Rovaniemi in Lapland - on the Arctic Circle - and even has his own post office here.
Incoming letters from children from all over the world to Santa Claus are read and answered by the employees of the post office.
The myth that Santa Claus is based in Finland goes back to the Finnish broadcaster Markus Rautio (1891-1973) from 1927, who was particularly known and loved for his children's programs.
The Ateneum is the most important museum for Finnish art until 1960. Foreign and modern art is also considered here. There are also special exhibitions.
Museum The museum has exhibitions about Finland's prehistory. You can see medieval church art as well as folk clothes and exhibits from the Finnish-Ugric and Sami cultures. Changing exhibitions on foreign cultures.
A café is available.
Helsinki City Art Museum Meilahti
The museum displays contemporary art. The museum is located in Meilahti, just outside Helsinki.
The museum is the home of statesman Carl Gustav Mannerheim, who made a strong mark on Finnish history. It shows a collection of medals and marshal's baton and items brought back from his travels in Asia. In addition, the Marshal's original living quarters can be viewed.
Museum of Finnish Architecture
The museum shows an exhibition and graphics on Finnish architecture. There is also an image archive and an architecture library.
Museum of Contemporary Art - KIASMA
The museum shows exhibitions on contemporary art. Multi-media events as well as dance and theater performances are also part of the program.
Helsinki City Museum The Helsinki
City Museum shows Helsinki's history on the way from the village to the capital of Finland. Light and sound effects make a walk through the museum an experience.
Churches and other sacred buildings
Church in Tampere The neo-Gothic church was built in 1881 and rebuilt in 1939. It forms a striking contrast to the neighboring modern building of the city library.
Cathedral Church (Tampereen
The Lutheran Church of Tampere from 1907 is considered an outstanding example of Finnish national romanticism. It is one of the city's landmarks. Inside, frescoes by Hugo Simberg (1873-1917) can be admired.
Helsinki Cathedral, formerly also known as Nikolaikirche, is the city's landmark and defines the city like no other building. It is located in the center of the city on Senate Square and is open to visitors.
The medieval Turku Cathedral is the center of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland. The church was built in the 13th century.
Church The Petäjävesi Church has been a Unesco Heritage Site since 1994. In 1763 the church was built in 35 days in the typical log cabin style. Today it is one of the most beautiful preserved buildings of Finnish wooden architecture.
This building in Tampere was built in 1899 under Russian rule in the neo-Byzantine style. With its numerous arches, bay windows and the 12 onion domes, the church offers an unusual picture.
Temppeliaukio Church - Rock Church (Temppeliaukion kirkko)
The Temppeliaukio Church is Helsinki's international evangelical church. It is in a massive rock-hewn round church with a glass dome that towers about 12 meters and is often used for concerts due to its excellent acoustics. It was completed in 1969 according to plans by Timo and Tuomo Suomalainen. Since then, it has been one of Helsinki's most popular attractions with around half a million visitors a year.
The Uspenski Cathedral on the Katajanokka Peninsula in Helsinki is made of reddish bricks and has golden onion domes. It is the largest Orthodox church outside Russia in all of Scandinavia.
Aleksis Kivi Birthplace
The museum is the home of the famous Finnish playwright and novelist (1834-1872). The museum displays parts of the original furnishings as well as the writer's possessions.
Old Market Hall
The Old Market Hall (Kauppahalli) is Finland's oldest market hall. It is located at the southern harbor, on the market square (Kauppatori). The hall was built by Gustav Nyström and opened in 1889. The red and white brick building offers culinary specialties from all over the world, from reindeer ham from Finland to sushi from Japan.
Finnish National Theater (Kansallisteatteri)
For over 130 years, the National Theater has been an integral part of Helsinki's cultural offerings. It is the oldest Finnish-language theater in the country and is also considered the Finnish National Theater.
The Havis Amanda is not a building. Nevertheless, a visit to Helsinki is an essential part of any visit to Helsinki. The Havis Amanda is a bronze fountain directly on the south harbor. A naked virgin rose from the sea adorns him. It was created by Ville Vallgren in 1906 and placed in its current location in 1908. The virgin symbolizes the birth of the city of Helsinki from the sea. On May 1st, the virgin is cleansed by students in an annual ritual and they put a wreath on her. This spectacle attracts thousands of onlookers every time.
The building, about 30 km from Helsinki, was the home of the architect Eliel Saarinen (he designed the main train station, among other things). It also served as a studio for him and his wife and the architects Armas Lindgren and Hermann Gesellius.
Central Station (Rautatieasema)
Train stations are not usually a major attraction in a city. Not so in Helsinki: the Central Station is an eye-catching building. It was designed by Eliel Saarinen and was completed in 1919. Architecturally, it can be seen as a transition to the new objective style. On the side of the main entrance, huge sculptures with lanterns stand guard. But the station concourse and cafés are also architecturally interesting and it is worth exploring them on a discovery tour.
Lasipalatsi (in German Glass Palace)
A modern functionalist building by the architect Viljo Revell (* 1935). It serves as a meeting place with a media and information center, cafes, galleries and shops. A branch of the city library is also located there.
Parliament Building (Eduskuntatalo)
The imposing building in Helsinki is open to visitors. It is a massive 1920s classicism building. It was designed by JS Sirén. The Finnish Parliament meets here. During public meetings, you can watch the debate on Tuesdays and Fridays from the audience stage.
City Hall The City Hall is on the west side of "Keskustori". The ornate building was built in 1890 and has served as the town's town hall ever since. From here the manifesto against Russian oppression was announced in 1905.
Metso City Library in Tampere
The City Library is one of the most architecturally impressive buildings in the city. The modern building made of brick, copper and glass was built in 1985 according to plans by the Finnish architect couple Raili and Reima Pietilä. In the building there is a stone museum and the "Mumintal" ("Muumilaakso"), in which illustrations, showcases and models by the children's book author Tove Jansson are on display.
The Tampere Theater is one of Finland's most prestigious theaters. The building was built in 1913 in a mixture of Art Nouveau and Neoclassicism. With the "Tampereen Työvänen Teatteri" (TTT) it is the largest and most important in the city.
Castles and Palaces
Olavinlinna Castle Olavinlinna
Castle is the main attraction of the Savonlinna Lake District. The castle was founded in 1475 and was intended to protect the eastern border of the Swedish-Finnish Empire. At the beginning of the 18th century the castle was occupied by the Russians who stayed for almost 200 years.
Suomenlinna Fortress The Suomenlinna
Fortress has been a UNESCO cultural monument since 1991. The plant was started by the Swedes in 1748 when Finland was still part of the Swedish Kingdom and served to secure the border with Russia.
The Finlandia Hall is the city's concert and convention center. The hall, which is exceptional in its architecture, was designed by the most famous architect and designer in Finland, Alvar Aalto.
Seurasaari Open Air Museum The Seurasaari
Open Air Museum is located on the island of the same name. There you can see 100 buildings from the last 200 years, mainly farmhouses and farms as well as a school, a church, blacksmiths and other handicraft businesses.
cemetery The Sammallahdenmäki cemetery with graves from the Bronze Age has been a Unesco cultural heritage since 1999.
Häme Castle is the second large imperial castle in Finland and dates from the 13th century. In the 17th century a town of the same name grew around them.
Kastelholm on the Åland Islands dates back to 1384 and was used for both administrative and defense purposes.
Today the Raseborg is in ruins. It is almost square and has a round corner tower. It was founded around 1374.
Verla sawmill complex
The Verla sawmill complex has been a UNESCO cultural monument since 1996.
The imposing Kastelholm Castle in Sund on Åland was first mentioned in 1388. It was of great strategic importance in the 16th and 17th centuries.
Turku Castle Turku
Castle was begun around 1280. It is the most historically significant building in Finland.
Finlandia Hall (Finlandia-talo)
Finlandia Hall is an international convention center with restaurant and concert hall in Helsinki. The architect of the building is the famous Aalvar Aalto, who designed the building down to the smallest detail. The hall is made of marble and the main building was completed in 1971 and the congress wing in 1975. Aalto died in 1975 and the Finlandia Hall is his last major work. Around 300 congresses and around 200 concerts take place here every year. The congress center is considered to be one of the most beautiful of its kind in Europe.
The 173-meter-high observation tower, which is located in the Särkänniemi amusement park, is the city's landmark. It is the tallest building in Tamperes and houses a revolving restaurant.
Olympic Stadium The Olympic Stadium was designed by architects Yrjö Lindegren and Toivo Jäntti and was built for the 1940 Olympic Games. The Second World War made the Games impossible and so the functionalist building was only inaugurated at the Olympic Games in 1952. Today the stadium is used for sporting events and large concerts. You can drive up the 72 meter high tower and have an excellent view of the city.
Metso City Library - Tampere
The City Library is one of the most architecturally impressive buildings in the city. The modern building made of brick, copper and glass was built in 1985 according to plans by the Finnish architects Raili and Reima Pietilä. In the building there is a stone museum and the "Mumintal" ("Muumilaakso"), in which illustrations, showcases and models by the children's book author Tove Jansson are on display.
The Struve Arch is a cross-border scientific monument with a length of 2,821 km and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2005. This geodetic survey sheet extends over ten countries. It starts in Hammerfest in Norway and then continues through Sweden, Finland, Russia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus, Moldova and ends in Ukraine. There is a chain of geodetic measuring stations on the Struve Arch. It was used to measure parts of the earth's surface and had its origins in the Tartu observatory in Estonia, of which Struve was director from 1820-1839. More details under Struve arches.
Business School (Finnish: Helsingin kauppakorkeakoulu) - Helsinki This state-run business school was established in 1911. The university, which is currently attended by an estimated 4,000 students, is divided into five faculties and has a sister campus in Mikkeli (approx. 250 km from Helsinki).
Sibelius Academy (Finnish: Sibelius Akatemia) - Helsinki
The only music academy in Finland is also one of the largest music academies in all of Scandinavia. Today Europe's leading institution in its field began its existence modestly in 1882 as the “Helsinki Music School”. Since 1939 it bears the name of the most famous Finnish composer, who even taught at the academy from 1890 to 1892.
Helsinki University of Technology (Finnish: Teknillinen korkeakoulu) - Helsinki
The oldest technical university in Finland dates back to the first half of the 19th century. Today it houses twelve faculties under one roof and is currently attended by around 15,000 students.
University of Helsinki (Finnish: Helsingin yliopisto) - Helsinki
The largest university in Finland is currently educating around 38,000 students, with the languages of instruction being Finnish and Swedish and partly English. Today the university, whose roots go back to 1640, has a university library with the largest collection of Slavic works in Western Europe. The most famous students at the university included the composer Jean Sibelius (1865–1957) and the current Finnish President Tarja Halonen (born 1943).
Excursion destinations and natural beauties
Esplanaden-Park - Helsinki
The park runs right in the center of the city and divides the south and north planade. A colorful mix of tourists and locals cavort here. At the east end of the park, musicians often show their skills on a stage. Cafés invite you to take a break. In winter there are light shows in the Esplanadenpark. Note the heated sidewalks of the north planade, which guarantee a snow-free stroll even in winter.
Lemmenjoki National Park
The Lemmenjoki National Park with an area of 2,855 km² is the largest nature reserve in Finland.
Seitseminen National Park
The 42 km2 national park is located about 50 kilometers north of Tampere. A varied landscape with swamps, primeval forests and salmon-rich lakes make this area attractive for visitors. In summer, boats can be rented for excursions and fishing, while in winter there is an extensive network of cross-country ski trails.
A four hour boat ride from the center of Helsinki is the island of Pihljasaari. There are two islands connected by a wooden walkway, which are mainly used as a bathing beach. On the north bank of the island you will find a beautiful sandy beach, while the south bank has smooth rocks. The water is crystal clear and the island is forested, so that if you don't like the sun you can stroll on shady paths.
Särkänniemi amusement park - Tampere
In the amusement park on the banks of the Näsijärvi, which has the usual attractions, there is a dolphinarium, a planetarium and the 173-meter-high viewing tower "Näsinneula", which is the tallest building in the city.
Lake area of the Näsijärvi and Pyhäjärvi
The extensive lake area of the two lakes Näsijärvi and Pyhäjärvi offers a wide range of leisure activities such as sailing, kunu driving and fishing during the summer months and ice skating in winter. Two shipping routes originally set up for transport purposes lead across the large lakes and enable memorable experiences in nature. Buses go back to the city from the numerous stations. The ships operate between the beginning of June and the end of August. The Poet's Path (Runoilijan tie) leads over the Näsijärvi, which extends north of the city. It starts at Mustalahti harbor and ends after an eight-hour boat trip in Virrat. Various companies offer day and night trips. The Finnish Silver Line (Suomen hopealinja) runs on Pyhäjärvi, south of Tampere. The journey to Hämeenlinna at the southern end of the lake also takes about eight hours. Several stopovers invite you to go ashore, on which various sights can be visited.
Seuraasaari - Helsinki
Only about 5 km from the center of Helsinki you will find a wooded island that is ideal for walks all year round. In addition to picturesque views, there is also an open-air museum (Ulkomuseo). This shows the Finnish timber construction culture from the 18th to the 20th century. Among the buildings is a wooden church built in 1685, which is the oldest of the approx. 80 different buildings. In addition, traditional working methods of bygone times are presented in the summer, including carving, dyeing and threshing techniques. Folklore events with competitions, dance and music are also part of the offer of the open-air museum. In July you can also experience the celebrations of the national Midsummer Night Festival, during which the traditional Midsummer bonfires are lit. Another special feature of the island are the many squirrels, which have already got used to the many visitors and sometimes no longer run away. The island can be reached from the center of the city by bus number 24. It will take you to a wooden bridge that leads to the island. In summer there are also ships from the market square (Kauppatori) to Seurasaari.
Tammerkoski rapids - Tampere
At the almost one kilometer long "Tammerkoski rapids" that connect the "Näsijärvi" with the "Pyhäjärvi" and compensate for the 18 meter difference in altitude, there are numerous former factory buildings. Today it houses shops, baths, restaurants, studios and galleries that cater for visitors.
Töölö Lake (Töölönlahti) - Helsinki
Helsinki lies by the sea and the charming coastline shapes the image of the city. However, there is also a lake in central Helsinki, Töölö Lake (Töölönlahti). It is actually not a lake, but a bay and it is not artificially created, but a gem of nature itself. Not far from the main train station, it invites you to take a walk. Two of the city's most important representative buildings are located on its banks. One is the Finnish National Opera (Suomen Kansallisoopera), which only opened in 1993. The second is the Finlandia Hall (Finlandia-talo), a convention center with a concert hall and restaurant. The neat marble building is one of the most beautiful congress centers in Europe.
Underwater World Sealife
The underwater world Sealife in Helsinki provides an insight into tropical seas and the Baltic Sea. Hundreds of sea creatures, including rays and sharks, can be seen in numerous aquariums. The 235 m³ large ocean tank, which can be crossed in a transparent tunnel, is outstanding. Sealife is open daily from 10:00 a.m. Admission: EUR 10. Sea Life Helsinki, Tivolitie 10, 00510 Helsinki.
After a 20-minute boat ride on Pyhäjärvi you will reach a small island off the city of Tampere. Several beaches, hiking trails, meadows and barbecue areas make it a popular destination for residents and tourists. The ferries leave from Laukontori port.
UNESCO World Heritage Sites
The Struve Arch is a cross-border scientific monument with a length of 2,821 km. This geodetic survey sheet extends over ten countries. It starts in Hammerfest in Norway and then continues through Sweden, Finland, Russia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus, Moldova and ends in Ukraine. There is a chain of geodetic measuring stations on the Struve Arch. It was used to measure parts of the earth's surface and had its origin in the observatory of Tartu, of which Struve was director from 1820-1839. More details under Struve arches. The entire Struvebogen was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 2005.
Archipelago - Kvarken Archipelago
The Kvarken archipelago and the archipelago are located on the southern part of the Gulf of Bothnia, which belongs to the North Sea. The distance from Finland to Sweden is approx. 80 km. The archipelago includes around 5600 islands. They consist of strange moraines that were formed by the melting of the pack ice that accumulated 24,000 to 10,000 years ago. The archipelago grows annually by the "postglacial land uplift" (land rise of the area that was covered by inland ice during the last ice age) by about 1 km². In the middle of Kvarken stands a lighthouse on one of the many islands that Gustave Eiffel designed. The archipelago and the Kvarken archipelago have been recognized as cross-border world heritage (with Sweden) was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 2000 and expanded in 2006.
Sammallahdenmäki cemetery with graves from the Bronze Age
The Sammallahdenmäki hill lies in the western Finnish town of Lappi near the city of Rauma. The city of Rauma is located directly on the coast of the Gulf of Bothnia. 36 graves from the Broze period have been found there. The age of the oldest graves is dated to an age of up to 3300 years and the youngest to an age of 2000 years. It is believed that people at that time were cremated after their death because human bones that were not fully charred were found. The graves there are round and a stone box with bronze grave goods was found in one of the graves. The cemetery with the graves from the Bronze Age was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1999.
Verla's historic cardboard factory
The village of Verla is located in the south of the country about 30 km north of Kouvola and about 160 km northeast of Helsinki. In 1872 a paper-making factory was opened in Verla, using the rapids between the Suolajärvi and Iso-Kamponen lakes as an energy source. The factory burned down in 1876 and a new one was built on the same site in 1882. The workers at this factory were provided medical assistance at the company's expense and medical personnel were hired. In 1995, a hydropower plant was put into operation right next to the old factory, which had been shut down in 1964, which is very similar in design to the old factory. The cardboard factory was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1996.
The Petäjävesi Church is located on a small peninsula between the two lakes Jämsänvesi and Petäjävesi. The church is one of the rare wooden churches still preserved, dating from 1763/1764. Gothic and Renaissance are combined here with the Finnish timber construction. The ground plan of the church is a cross with arms of equal length. The decor of the church is ornate, and the ceiling of the church is an octagonal domed ceiling. The unpainted wood has naturally aged and has acquired an unusually beautiful color over the years. The church was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1994
City of Rauma
The city of Rauma is located in the west of the country and in the south of the Satakunta area directly on the Baltic coast on the Gulf of Bothnia. In the 14th century there was a Franciscan monastery with a church on the site. The monastery no longer exists. In 1442 Rauma received city rights. All that remains of the Franciscan monastery of Rauma is the Holy Cross Church from the 15th century. In the years 1640 and 1682 Rauma burned down almost completely and when Rauma became wealthy through seafaring in the 17th century, magnificent wooden houses were built in the city, which stand in an area of 0.3 km² in winding streets and have beautifully decorated facades. The old town hall from 1776 with the city museum is particularly worth seeing. The ruins of the old Trinity Church, which burned down, are still preserved. The Bronze Age cemetery of Sammallahdenmäki, located on a hill near Rauma, is an important archaeological site in the Nordic countries. The city of Rauma with its old wooden houses has been a Unesco World Heritage Site since 1991, as are the Bronze Age tombs in the urban area of Rauma.
The Swedes began building the fortress in 1748 on 6 of the uninhabited islands off Helsinki. At the time, Finland was part of the Kingdom of Sweden. At that time the fortress was named "Sveaborg" by the Swedes. Tsar Peter the Great of Russia ruled the Baltic Sea and the fortress was intended to protect the country's eastern border from Russia and other enemies. However, in 1808, Russian troops occupied the fortress. In 1855, the Crimean War, it was fought over by English and French fleets. When the Finns gained their independence in the year, they gave the fortress its current Finnish name Suomenlinna. In the years after 1918, the fortress on one of the islands was used as a prison. Many prisoners died there. Suomenlinna is considered a prime example of military and fortress architecture. The fortress was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1991