Monday, March 14, 2016

Helsinki - Espalanadi Square

Date of visit: 20th October 2015

First and foremost, Esplanadi can be said as the Champs Elysee of Helsinki with a park seated in the middle of it, flanked by neo-renaissance buildings on both sides, containing some of the most expensive shops and cafes. You may find an ice cream parlours and caf├ęs in this park as well as a couple of fountains and monuments. One of them is dedicated to the poet Johan Ludvig Runeberg who wrote the text later used in the Finnish national anthem. At the end of the square, there’s a fountain of a beautiful mermaid known as Havis Amanda (1908) and is regarded as a symbol of the city. She was said to receive a graduation hat when the students of nearby Helsinki University celebrate their graduation.

Johan Ludvig Runeberg statue seated at the centre of Esplanadi

Havis Amanda surrounded with seals, built in 1908

In the heart of Helsinki of the capital of Finland, is what the Swedish called Esplanaden is situated. Esplanadi is an esplanade consisting of the Esplanadinpuisto Park and the parallel one-way streets on its sides named Pohjoisesplanadi. We were indeed very lucky to stay in a hotel that is within metres away from the famous Esplanadi. It lead from Erottaja Square to Market Square, and North Esplanade extends along the border of Market Square up to Katajanokka Channel. Parallel to Pohjoisesplanadi, a little northwards, is Aleksanterinkatu. Esplanadi is colloquially called "Espa". Two below photos were snapped at the beginning of Pohjoisesplanadi approaching the Esplanadinpuisto's Park.

Erottaja square has been selected as the official geographic "zero point" of Helsinki. Distances to all other cities in Finland are measured starting from here. In practice, the square functions as the meeting point of central Helsinki's two famous streets, Esplanadi and Mannerheimintie. The square is the western endpoint of Esplanadi, with the eastern endpoint being at the market square. Mannerheimintie, the longest and most famous street in Helsinki, begins at Erottaja and continues northwest, past the districts of Toolo and Ruskeasuo, until finally merging with a highway leading outside the city. Kindly refer to the Helsinki city map to understand what is written in this paragraph.

There is a minor bus station at Erottaja. Very few lines start or end there, most of them start or end at the Kamppi Center or at Rautatientori. Besides, tram is another important means of transportation of the city.

Erottaja is also famous for being the most expensive lot in the original Finnish edition of Monopoly, even more expensive than Mannerheimintie which been referred to the second most expensive lot. This has earned the square fame even outside Helsinki.

Kappeli is a popular restaurant in Esplanadi, seen in the above 2 photos. It’s a regret that we did not step inside for a cup of coffee, the least we can do since we were passing the restaurant twice that day. Another important thing to take note is Esplanadi is where the branded shops like LV, Prada, Channel and all other brand names to your liking are located. We saw that a day before when the nice cab driver showing them around while passing by the street on the way to the hotel.

The big green area between the two streets is very active in summer, where many Finns come to have a picnic. There are also numerous live music performances on a special outdoor stage in front of Cafe Kappeli. There is a statue of Johan Ludwig Runeberg by his son Walter Runeberg in the park. The park was originally opened in 1812.

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