Bronzed, but not by the sun: the Helsinki Statues

The rumours of cold stone-faced Finns are more appropriate for their local statues, as their lively history will tell.

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Despite the rumours, Finns are not cold and stone faced, yet we can’t deny the most famed Finns fill that description. Formed from bronze, stone and cement is Finland’s most influential people and the most beloved artists commemorated in statues, many of which are found in the centre of Helsinki. The statues themselves are works of art, also serve to remind onlookers of Finnish history, and introduce it to newcomers.

The statues prompt Helsinki sightseers and locals alike to clues of Finnish history and culture. Each sculpture opens a window into history reflecting on the style and atmosphere of epochs past: illuminating the viewer to periods of art and those who helped build the story of Finland.

Statues play important role in Helsinki’s cityscape serving as familiar meeting places and landmarks. The Three Smiths Statue (Kolmen sepän patsas) situated in the intersection of Aleksanterinkatu and Mannerheimintie, is a popular meeting place, while also being an icon of Helsinki. It hasn’t always been this easy for the iconic blacksmiths. In the Second World War the base was damaged during a bombing, the anvil of a smith still has a hole from the shrapnel. Skaters and flatland BMX-ers often gather around the Statue of Marshal Mannerheim (known as Marski in Helsinki slang).

Some statues are centerpieces for traditions and holidays. Since 1921, in celebration of May Day, a delegated group of higher education students have the honours of placing a white graduation cap on the top of the Havis Amanda’s curly locks. The capping ceremony happens after the fountain is foaming with bubbles and the dear Havis Amanda has been bathed. Also, the Statue of Alexander II in Senate square served as a scene for political representation against the Russification of Finland under Tsar Nicholas II who governed in a different manner to his predecessor Alexander II.Proceed to the slideshow below to find out more.

The statues of Helsinki tell their stories


Photos by Emilia Kangasluoma, October 2013
Text by Katarina Lius and Pia Grochowski

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