Helsinki was founded by Swedish king Vasa in 1550 to the river mouth of Vantaa river. It was suppose to challenge Tallin as a city of commerce on the Baltic sea, but the City grew slow. One of the reason for the stagnant growth was a long and difficult route for the cargo ships to the Harbor of Helsinki. In 1700’s the Swedish empire grew uneasy about the rise of Russia and they wanted to add fortifications to the Baltic. They chose island in front of Helsinki to form Suomenlinna Seafortress. It is nowadays a Unesco World Heritage -site and the most visited attraction of Helsinki. Only 20 minute ferry ride from the Central Market Square. The building of the Fortress was a big effort and the town of Helsinki was relocated to the current location to support the construction of the Fortress.
Swedish had high hopes for the Suomenlinna Castle, but it didn’t really help once the Russians won the war in 1809 against the Swedish and took control of Finland as part of the peace treaty. The Tsar Alexander 1st declared Finland a Grand Duchy – a semi-autonomous state, entitled to rule itself. Few years later, in 1812 Helsinki was announced the Capital of Finland. This started massive development and building projects in Helsinki which in 1812 was tiny. It had only about 3500 inhabitants. The German architect C.L. Engel took the job of creating the new nordic capital and now the history is visible in center of Helsinki.