Suomenlinna may be a military base and only have a population of about 850 but it attracts around 700,000 tourists a year, among them Helsinki residents who come to roam the meadows, sniff the sea air and wander the historic cobbled streets. The islands are accessible via a 20-minute ferry ride that runs from Kauppatori (Helsinki’s market square) or a service boat that leaves from the Katajanokka neighbourhood. Since 1973 The Governing Body (part of the Ministry of Education) is in charge of the islands’ conservation (the fortress is a unesco…
01The officers’ club
04Tourists explore the town
05Bridge between Iso Mustasaari and Susisaari
06Café Icecellar Art Shop
07The conservatory of Petra Tandefelt, resident and owner of Suomenlinna’s Toy Museum
08Her teapot collection
09Tandefelt’s residence built by a Russian officer
11Portrait of Carl Gustaf Mannerheim (1867-1951), Finland’s most famous military leader in the officers’ club
12Matilda at ice cream kiosk
13Café Icecellar, an ex storage facility for officers
Suomenlinna’s significance in the historical defence of three states – Sweden, Russia and Finland respectively – is of special importance. The sea fortress began construction in 1748 (under Swedish control) directed by military architect Augustin Ehrensvärd and it was a key post in many wars. In 1788 it defended the Swedes from Russia; in the War of Finland, 1808-09, the fortress surrendered to the Russian army and it was active during the Crimean War in 1855 when the British and French allied with Turkey to deprive the Russian Navy of a route to the Baltic Sea and from there to the Atlantic.
In 1856 the Russians started to repair much of the damage and continued to do so under the command of the Tsarist autocracy (looking to safeguard Saint Petersburg) until the Russian revolution in 1917, when Finland also gained its independence. The newly installed government took over the island 1918 to 1973 when the Finnish military transferred selected properties to civil administration via a state body: the Governing Body of Suomenlinna, a branch of the Minister of Education and Culture.
In Finland when you own a property you also own the land on which it is built. Property owners become “share holders” in a housing company, paying a monthly sum to cover the costs for maintenance services. Sellers need to pay 1.6 per cent of the sale price to the Finnish government plus a commission fee to the estate agent. In the case of JYA Housing, which is currently dealing with the sale of a 93 sq m flat on the island, this will be 4.3 per cent of the asking price. In 2011 for the first time a broker got involved in the sale of a property in Suomenlinna. Before then if you wanted to buy property you had to go through the military or the close-knit network of families living there.
1 bedroom - €350,000 (estimated)
2 bedrooms - €499,000
3 bedrooms - €650,000 (estimated)
JYA Housing Pakilantie 71,
+ 358 290 004 000
JYA Housing is a group of friendly professionals who specialise in the sale of residential property in southern Finland.