Helsinki (575,000 inhabitants, more than one million in the metropolitan area) is the capital and largest city in Finland, is located at the south of Finland on the Baltic Sea coast, the city spreads over a number of peninsulas and islands, facing the coast.
Helsinki was founded under the name of Helsingfors, by the Swedes in 1550, but remained for centuries a small town, only in the XIX century, with the passage of Finland to Russia Helsinki gained importance, becoming the capital of the country instead of Turku. After the First World War, the city became the capital of independent Finland.
The appearance of Helsinki is very modern, but in the old town are also neoclassical buildings, the most famous of which is the Cathedral (Helsingin tuomiokirkko, Suurkirkko), which dominates the skyline of the city and has become one of the symbols. Art Nouveau is also present in Helsinki, especially in areas of Ullanlinna and Katajanokka and in the building of the Central Station.
Modern art and in particular functionalism are well represented, the famous Finnish architect Alvar Aalto has left several interesting buildings such as the Finlandia Hall (concert hall), the headquarters of the paper industry Stora Enso and the University Campus of Otaniemi with its auditorium.
Helsinki is the economic and cultural center most prosperous and developed in Finland, most major Finnish industries and companies are located in Helsinki, the city has eight universities and numerous schools and polytechnics of great importance.
The city houses some of the most important museums in the country, including the National Museum of Finland, dedicated to the history of Finland with rooms ranging from prehistory to modern times, and the Finnish National gallery with the Atheneum Museum dedicated to classical art and the Kiasma Museum of contemporary art.
To the delight of children Helsinki has one of the most popular amusement parks in Finland, the Linnanmäki park, which offers roller coasters and attractions of various kinds including a large aquarium.
In 1991 UNESCO included among the UNESCO world heritage sites the fortress of Suomenlinna, an imposing fortress situated on a small island off the coast of Helsinki, the fortress dates back to the eighteenth century and was built by the Swedes in order to protect Finland, then Swedish possession, against the expansionist intentions of the Russian Empire.