Helsinki itself is a quiet, peaceful and easy going capital, without the hassles and pulsating pace of many other capitals. Nature is very visible, as it is located between the seafront with its archipelago, and the hinterland with the famous Finnish woods and lakes. One of the main places to see in Helsinki, is the cemetery, which is an even more peaceful place than the capital itself. Within walking distance from the city centre, you can find yourself at the main gate of this immense cemetery, located right on the waterfront. In fact, Hietaniemi means sand spit.
On my first visit to Finland, I ended up staying at an old couple's place in northern Finland. They took me to a funeral, and I can still remember it: we were in the middle of a forest, the wind was blowing softly through the treetops, and the mumbling of the Finns to pay their last respect to a friend and relative that had departed this world, was impossible to understand but still impressive. It was a very natural funeral. While walking in Hietaniemi cemetery, probably the largest of the country, those images came back to me, and again, I heard the wind blowing through the treetops.
I did not have a clear plan, I did not have a map of the cemetery, and I was anyway not very aware of the importance of the names I had seen announced as famous Finns. Still, I had a very pleasant walk over the cemetery, discovering different styles of graves, the cemetery blending in perfectly with nature, appreciating the flowers decorating the tombs. I saw graves of famous Finns like Kekkonen and Mannerheim, the sections with tombs for fallen soldiers of the wars against the Soviet Union and Germany, but also special sections like the orthodox and Jewish ones. While not as overwhelmingly decorated as for instance cemeteries in Southern Europe, Hietaniemi Cemetery is definitely charming as well.
Around the World in 80 Clicks
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Hietaniemi Cemetery (Finland). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Hietaniemi Cemetery. Read more about this site.