Impressive architecture and fascinating stories – the Sponda Legends walking tours were enthusiastically welcomed
The Sponda Legends walking tour participants marvelled at the impressive premises and stories behind the staircases and lobbies of valuable properties. “Back in the day, the entrances served as business cards for the buildings,” says Petteri Kummala, Expert at the Museum of Finnish Architecture.
The walking tour, organised in honour of Sponda’s 30 anniversary, begins from the Fennia building in the corner of Rautatientori. By stepping into the New Baroque style entrance hall embellished with green marble, the pedestrian is immediately transported to a new world.
“Grand Hotel Fennia was known as the place for high society to make an appearance in the 20th century, and its winter garden hosted the most sumptuous parties of its time,” says Kummala who works as the guide for the tour.
Political statement and a triumph for classicism
On the outside of the buildings, Kummala encourages the visitors to raise their eyes to the upper edge of the Fennia façade where the Finnish coat of arms and a list of names of European cities are grandly displayed.
“It is astonishing that when the building was completed in 1899, such a strong political stance was allowed. It was the time of Russian rule, but in Helsinki’s most central place, Finland was declared to belong strongly to the Western European heritage instead of the East.”
The next location on the tour is Mannerheimintie 16, better known as the Capitol cinema building. The entrance door opens out onto a staircase decorated with spectacular decorative paintings and curved cast iron railings. According to Kummala, the illusory decorative paintings were made by artists in the 1890s.
“The Capitol building is considered to be the most advanced interior work of its time and a piece of art displaying 1920s classicism,” says Kummala.
Tragic fates and layered architecture
At Erottajankatu 7, we will learn about the tragic history of the architect of the building and marvel at how masterfully late Art Nouveau architecture combines with the modern glass walled architecture in the courtyard.
“The purpose of the tour is to highlight details that are easily missed when walking in the city. The presentation of Sponda’s sites and their layers also provides a perspective on a sustainable future,” says Kummala.
On the mission to preserve common history
The walking tours organised jointly by Sponda and the Museum of Finnish Architecture were originally launched in honour of Finland’s 2017 anniversary. The tours gained enormous popularity and a decision was made to re-organise the tours on Sponda’s 30th anniversary.
“As a real estate owner, we want to cherish the architectural and cultural value of our historical buildings that are over 100 years old. The open tours offer the citizens an opportunity to take a peek at the closed buildings and hear fascinating stories about their recent history,” says Marketing and Brand Manager, Anita Riikonen.
Preserving valuable buildings means that each Sponda property has its own maintenance and repair programme, which the company follows systematically. Significant investments are made every year in the maintenance and restoration of cultural and historical sites.
Investments are made every year in the maintenance and restoration of cultural and historical sites.
According to Riikonen, more and more companies are also looking for unique business premises with a fascinating story behind them.
“Added value is especially in demand right now when employees are encouraged to come back to the office after the COVID-19 period. Even the historical locations can be adapted to modern hybrid work when the premises are designed in close cooperation with interior designers and our premises professionals.”
Familiar city centre sites in a new light
The penultimate site on the tour is the head office of the Helsinki telephone company, designed by Lars Sonck, which at first could be mistaken for the castle of Sleeping Beauty. Participants are given a task to look for elements on the flamboyant façade that point to the developer of the building.
The tour ends in the courtyard of Sponda’s head office, where each visitor can talk about their favourite site. After the enthusiastic chat, it becomes clear that almost every location has left an impression in somebody’s mind.
“You see the familiar city centre sites in a whole new light, and, in the future, you know to look up when walking along the street,” says one of the visitors.
In a group or independently
- During June 2022, Sponda organises Legends walking tours (all groups are fully booked).
- The tours showcase lobbies and staircases of properties that are over 100 years old in the city centre.
- You can also complete the tour independently with Sponda’s guide.
Interested in our properties? Take a closer look at our business premises.
Mikonkatu 1785 – 448 m²Kluuvi, Helsinki
Mannerheimintie 6m²Kamppi, Helsinki
Mannerheimintie 16113 – 472 m²Kamppi, Helsinki
Korkeavuorenkatu 35346 – 1342 m²Kaartinkaupunki, Helsinki
Bulevardi 1/Mannerheimintie 272 – 76.5 m²Kamppi, Helsinki
Korkeavuorenkatu 45m²Kaartinkaupunki, Helsinki
Erottajankatu 578 – 273 m²Kaartinkaupunki, Helsinki
Erottajankatu 7229 m²Kaartinkaupunki, Helsinki