Thursday, 23 June 2016

Mariehamn's wonderful villas

Aland's capital Mariehamn charms with its beautiful architecture - especially her gorgeous wooden villas.

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Hungry for romance? Lover of architecture? Then you're in for a treat. Aland's capital Mariehamn's is full of eye candy reminiscent of Hanko and Latvia's spa town of Jurmala.

Christianity arrived in Finland through thea archipelago and the first stone churches were built right here in Aland. Oldest remaining ones date back to 13th century.

For building material they used the local rock stone which gives them their typical red colour. Same stone explains the reddish streets.

First  plan for Mariehamn was designed by Swedish-born architect George Theodor Chiewitz in 1859. According to his initial suggestion the town was to be built entirely out of stone houses, but owing to its priciness in 1871 the town fathers okayed building of wooden villas, too. 

With population of about 11 000, Mariehamn's atmoshere is light and airy. Two boulevards cross each other and divide the town into four quarters. Initially the boulevards were designed as a percaution for potential fires.  The plots and houses located on them are big and the average living space per person is significantly larger here than it is on the mainland. 

The plots themselves border on tree-lined alleyways. They, too, were designed with the prevention or fire spreading in mind. 

There's no one unified architecture in Mariehamn, but two architects in particular have left their mark in town's style. First of them is Lars Sonc, one of the masters of National Romantic monuments. 

In Aland his most famous work is Navigation academy in Mariehamn, in the mainland he's known as the architecture behind the masterpieces that are Jean Sibelius's home Ainola, Tampere cathedral, Kallio church, the President's summer residence Kultaranta and the gorgeous hospital of Eira.

Mariehamn is full of that charm so familiar from South Western coast of Finland and small villages in South of Sweden. While I can't stand the words "cute" or  "adorable", everything here is simply so cute and adorable it seems to be physically impossible to be on a bad mood here.

The most glorious villas are located around the streets of Mariegatan and Södragatan.

Built towards the end of the 19th century, these Swiss-inspired wooden villas are the handiwork of Hilda Hongell. She was born right here in Mariehamn and went on to become the first academically trained female construction foreman in the country. 

Eventually however (as those times would have it...) she abandonded her career to become a housewife and mother. During her groundbreaking career she did design 105 buildings, out of which 44 still stand today.

Cute, right? Adorable, isn't she? You guys familiar with this chocolate box of a town? What are your personal favourites?




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  1. Tuttuja taloja ihan jokainen. Noita katuja kiertelen päivittäin. Hienot kuvat! Minunkin blogistani löytyy paljon kuvia Maarianhaminasta. Käypä katsomassa

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