Eira – Helsinki’s Hidden Gem

Any city is like a person. It has many features, sometimes contradictory and confusing. It has a past that is reflected in its present and will continue to affect its future.

When we meet a new person, we get to know him or her slowly, through conversations and observations. It works for cities too – listen and observe, explore its districts. They are original, dissimilar, and each one has a story to tell.

Today I want to introduce you to Eira. It’s a small downtown neighbourhood of Helsinki, located in a close proximity to the seashore. There are very few tourists here, although Eira is a 20-minute walk from the Esplanadi, Stockman and other places marked on all touristic maps as “must see”. If you find yourself in Helsinki, come here. Take the road less traveled 🙂

There are quite many embassies and old villa-like mansions in Eira. The active building phase took place from 1905 to 1917, when this part of the city was a suburb.

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Eira district takes its name after the local hospital. “Eir” is the old Scandinavian goddess of healing.

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Eira is mentioned in a famous movie by Finnish movie director-star Aki Kaurismäki “Calamari Union”. It’s a story about sixteen men named Frank and one Pekka trying to escape Kallio (another Helsinki district) and move to Eira, a prosperous and well-off place, where people can live “lives of dignity”. I watched maybe 30 min of this movie – although it’s really nicely done, it’s too weird to my taste 🙂

Calamari union
Source: Sputnik / Yle

Eira is particularly famous for its art nouveau or Jugend style architecture. I, personally, like these buildings a lot. Maybe because most of them resemble elements of a castle, I feel very peaceful when I walk around these stone giants.

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Most villas are in a very good shape and look well-kept.

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Some are uncared-for, although they still look quite charming and somewhat mystic.

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My personal favorite is Villa Johanna. It was built in 1906 by Selim A. Lindquist for a businessman Uno Staudinger. The villa was named after Staudinger’s wife. This house is like from a fairy-tale: a magical creature, fanciful stone patterns and even a tower with a tiny window.

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The roads nearby are rarely busy with traffic, and the area is very calm, with a couple of cozy parks, children playgrounds, and gardens. It’s a perfect place to enjoy a good book and a cup of coffee on a sunny day.

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Talking about coffee, there are plenty of cafes nearby: Pingviini kiosk (ice cream, coffee and korvapuusti – famous Finnish cinnamon pastry), Helsingin Jäätelotehdas kiosk (ice cream), Cafe Caruseli (coffee and snack or meal), Mattolaituri (a great place to sit outside with a glass of champagne and enjoy the sea view).

Hope you visit Eira and enjoy it as much as I do!

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3 thoughts on “Eira – Helsinki’s Hidden Gem

  1. I read your blog before my recent and first trio to Helsinki. My exploration of Eira, inspired by you, was one of the highlights of my trip. Thank you so much

    Liked by 1 person

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