Winter lifeline spans Helsinki Harbour

Suomenlinna, the historic island fortress outside Helsinki, depends on a ferry link – even when the sea freezes (slideshow).

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A community of some 800 people inhabits Suomenlinna, the group of historic islands in the entrance to Helsinki’s South Harbour. Ferry service forms a vital link to the mainland for them – not least when the harbour freezes over in winter.

Incredibly, there used to be a winter bus service running across the ice between Kaivopuisto – the park at the southern tip of Helsinki – and Suomenlinna’s small archipelago, but a change in sea traffic lanes put paid to that. These days public transport takes the form of a ferry that shuttles from Market Square on 365 days of the year. The quick voyage is like a miniature Arctic exploration, a dazzling, spectacular adventure, as the ice groans around the flat deck of the ferry.

To Suomenlinna through a frozen sea


Photos and text by Tim Bird, January 2013

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