Jul 10, 2007

Mitä kuuluu, Venäjä?

How are you, Russia?

Here we are in the summer during the late 1880s visiting Finland. No trip would be complete, I am told by my friend, The Empress of all Russia, Maria Feodorovna, without a visit to Suomenlinna Fortress.

Suomenlinna, which was initially called Sveaborg by the Swedes, has occupied a significant role in Finland and in the politics of the Baltic region. Constructing the coastal fortification in the Gulf of Finland in the mid-1700s was a last attempt by Sweden to reclaim the land it had lost to Russia at the turn of the century. The people of the time generally referred to the fortress as the Gibraltar of the North. The fortress was built from granite and was considered to be impenetrable. Nevertheless Sweden surrendered her to the Russians in a siege in 1808, after which Finland became a Grand Duchy of Russia.

Despite the fact that the garrison and fortress were greatly damaged during a bombardment in 1855 (Crimean War), the Russians have rebuilt and reinforced the area, and it remains a central focus of social activity here in Helsinki and Finland.

The garrison commander has been gracious enough to permit me to tour the area and to stay a few nights on the island. I am in great anticipation of the evening's ball, although I doubt it will compare to those in Caledon.

Here are some images that were captured over the last couple of days:

Making this Scotswoman feel right at home, the thistles were in bloom at Suomenlinna. (photo courtesy of my human on Suomenlinna 2007)

Touring the fortress

Looking out one of the commander's windows to the sea

What the soldiers see as they shoot their cannon. (photo courtesy of my human on Suomenlinna 2007)

Reviewing one of the many naval vessels at the Suomenlinna docks.

On board

One of the many earth-reinforced areas of the fortress.
(photo courtesy of my human on Suomenlinna 2007)

A watercolor of the view from my room - the ladies of the garrison and several from Helsinki observe the building of the new officer's barracks. (photo courtesy of my human on Suomenlinna 2007)

Found at the local designer's shop
(photo courtesy of my human on Suomenlinna 2007)

Here is where my letter to you must end. I need to lay on the divan for a bit of an afternoon rest, have a bath drawn, and slide into my silk gown for the ball tonight.

I wonder what wonderful things tomorrow will hold.


Hotspur O'Toole said...

An engrossing travelogue, Your Grace!! I especially admired your pictures in the castle and on the ramparts. Why, you could be wearing the light blue dress on the left in the museum picture! What a coincidence!

Amber_Palowakski said...

ohh, very lovely (especially the gowns!) I like how you blend the use of SL and rl photos!