The capital’s mansions are wonderful destinations, not just for their elegant features, but also their vivid histories.
HELSINKI has a number of grand mansions that retain the feel of aristocratic generations past; in fact, there is one in almost every neighbourhood of the city. Mansions were generally owned by nobles or the upper classes initially, but later owners also included peasants.
The manors of Finland are categorised into three groups: ‘seat farms’ of the Swedish nobility, the so-called ‘crown manors’, and other large estates that have been in the ownership of the gentry. Some grand estates of aristocratic families are also called mansions, or even courts in eastern Finland.
The seat farms were farms of residence for the Swedish nobility that were exempt from taxes and tithe. In return, each farm had to provide the king’s troops with a cavalryman. Crown mansions were estates belonging to the Swedish crown.
• Finland up to 63 official manors
• The oldest ones date back to the 1500s
• Many were owned or inhabited by the Swedish nobility
• Most are open for visiting, many also for celebrations
• Some have been turned into hotels that are open all year around
One of the most significant of Helsinki’s manors is the Herttoniemi Manor, located in east Helsinki, between Roihuvuori and Herttoniemenranta. Its surroundings include a fine garden that combines baroque and English garden features. Its time of grandeur was in the late 1700s, when Suomenlinna was constructed.
During late 1700s the manor was owned by Augustin Ehrensvärd, a Swedish count and field marshal, and during that time the estate was at its largest. The current areas of Herttoniemi, Roihuvuori, Myllypuro and Tammisalo were all part of Herttoniemi manor during the 1760s.
The manor has been a brick factory, as well as a porcelain factory, and it was supposed to be transformed into a Swedish-Finnish outdoor museum. Today it is an indoor museum, and a popular restaurant called Vanha Mylly (The Old Mill) is located next to it.
Another significant Helsinki manor resides a little way back towards the centre on the shore of Naurissalmi, opposite Kulosaari. Kulosaari Manor’s history dates back to the 1500s, originating from an estate held by the Swedish nobility that also served as a seat farm. In the 1700s its owners ranged from members of the bourgeoisie and the clergy to officers. The manor has been owned by the city since 1927.
The neoclassical main building was designed by C.L. Engel. In the 1730s to 1750s its ownership ties were closely related to Herttoniemi Manor, and Ehrensvärd also owned this smaller manor. He founded a freemasonry children’s home at the estate in 1753, reportedly the first of its kind to be established in Finland.
Kulosaari Manor is a popular location for celebrations and ceremonies, and the natural surroundings are a popular attraction.
These are but a few of the manors to be visited in the region. A few more are open for visitors in the Herttoniemi and Laajasalo vicinity alone: Laajasalo and Stansvik manors. The grandest ones outside of Helsinki include Haikon Kartano, which operates as a hotel and spa around the year, and Mustion Kartano.
Each manor holds a different look and a different history worth checking out.
LEHTIKUVA / ANTTI AIMO-KOIVISTO / ARKKIPUUDELI