Our plan today was to explore Helsinki’s Boulevard which starts from Erottaja in central Helsinki. Strolling along this elegant avenue we admired the beautiful buildings, many of which are now high class shops, cafes, restaurants and galleries. We passed The Old Church and its garden which always seems a popular venue for young people to come, sit on the grass, and spend time with their friends.
Next, we paused to admire the Alexander Theatre which was constructed in 1879 for Russians living in Helsinki and was known as the Russian Theatre until 1918 when it became the home of the Finnish National Opera and Ballet. In 1993 they moved to a new building and since then it has been used for guest stage performances.
Crossing the road, slightly further along we came to the Sinebrychoff Art Museum where we visited the permanent exhibition on the upper floor which displays some of the nineteenth century estate of the Sinebrychoff family, showcasing their upper class life.
The building was constructed in 1842 by the Russian businessman Nikolai Sinebrychoff whose brewery operated in part of the premises until 1992. It was his brother’s family who lived in the house and they began collecting art. In 1921 the family donated their collection to the State and this museum is now part of the Finnish National Gallery along with Kiasma and the Ateneum.
At the rear of the museum lies an attractive sloped garden which was proving popular with people sunbathing and enjoying picnics, there even seemed to be a wedding photo shoot taking place by the trees. On the edge of the park there’s also a pleasant brasserie, South Park, with a sunny outside terrace.
A few steps further on we arrived at Hietalahti market square which hosts a regular flea market throughout the year. Wandering around, we found vintage clothing, ceramics, household items, books and organic vegetables for sale. At the head of the square lies the Hietalahti Market Hall (Kauppahalli) where you will find around 20 food stalls offering a gourmet selection of different cuisines from Finnish smoked salmon open sandwiches served on dark rye bread to Japanese sushi and miso soup. Many of the stalls have their own small seating areas and diners can also sit outdoors if the weather permits, the food looked very tempting.
This square brought us to the end of the Boulevard and so we decided to return to the centre by tram (No. 6) once again enjoying our ride rattling along Helsinki’s cobbled streets.
Back in the centre we then opted to take a look in the Museum of Journalism which explores the history of, and modern day media including the freedom of speech in Finland. The museum is free to visit and is located on two floors. The ground floor contains a gallery depicting how newspaper front pages have evolved over time, from small, dense print without pictures to the banner headlines we are used to today.
Down in the basement we marvelled at old printing machinery used to print newspapers dating back from the mid 15th century to the end of the 20th. The printing cellar is the same premises where the Finnish daily newspaper Helsingin Sanomat and other newspapers were printed from the mid 1950’s up until 1978.
Returning upstairs we were asked to complete a short questionnaire evaluating our visit and in return were given complimentary cappuccinos in attractive cups with newsprint designs. The museum is quite small but certainly worth a visit and as it’s located in Helsinki’s Design District it’s not off the beaten track.