If, when on a visit to Finland, you are looking for original souvenirs, local delicacies or interesting handicrafts straight from Lapland, it is best to visit Kauppatori. This central square in Helsinki is not only a popular market square but also a place of cultural events.
Each year, Helsinki, the capital of Finland that is spread over 300 islands and is surrounded by sea on three sides, welcomes tourist who, despite low temperatures and the polar nights prevailing throughout the winter months, are eager to pay it a visit. An indispensable element and symbol of the city is Kauppatori, a square whose history dates back to as early as the 18th century, when the sale of fish brought directly from boats sailing in the Baltic Sea began.
Another important place is the Old Market Hall, i.e., Vanha Kauppahalli, built at the end of the 19th century, which made it possible for trade to be conducted even in winter. To this day, the hall is open to customers who can buy there mainly meat. What else can you find on Kauppatori – a place where you can taste not only regional delicacies, but above all enjoy the atmosphere of the city?
Delicacies and souvenirs
The market square is open from Monday to Friday, from 6.30 a.m. to 6.00 p.m., and on Saturday from 6.30 a.m. to 4.00 p.m. In the summer, it can be visited on Sundays between 10.00 a.m. and 5.00 p.m. It offers, among others, vegetables, fruits, meat, and souvenirs. If you are looking for an original gift from your trip, consider handicraft from Lapland, especially since the purchasable clothes, tools, knives or jewellery are made exclusively from local materials. Kauppatori especially attracts fans of regional products and good cuisine, which is characterized by simplicity and rawness. The stalls situated on the square offer local dishes, among which dense soups, meat, and fish prevail. The most popular dishes include lihapiirakka – dumplings most often filled with meat, karjalanpaisti – roasted beef and mutton, and karjalanpiirakka – dumpling with cheese, meat, and cabbage.
Tourists can also find original delicacies such as reindeer or bear meat there. Among other popular delicacies, you can find fish, e.g. herring and salmon, brought straight from the cutter, that guarantees freshness and unique taste. The annual event organized at the beginning of October called silakkamarkkina, i.e. the herring market, is an integral part of the history of the square. In the evenings, when the stalls are closed, the marketplace turns into a promenade that hosts various cultural events. In December 2017, when Finland celebrated the 100th anniversary of independence, a part of the festivities took place at Kauppatori.
The square is situated in the centre of Helsinki, and thus when walking in its vicinity, you can see the city’s most important buildings, including the city hall, the supreme court or the Presidential Palace. The lovers of architecture will be eager to see Uspenski Cathedral, which was built in 1868, during the reign of Alexander II, and which is the biggest Orthodox cathedral in Western Europe.
This is not the only element of Russian culture – the 19th century statue called Stone of the Empress commemorates the visit of Tsar Nicholas and his wife Aleksandra to the city. The square ends with Eteläsatama, South Harbour from where not only fishing boats, but also cruise ships, ferries and motor boats can sail. From here, you can set off on a trip to Sweden, Estonia, as well as to the nearby Finnish islands.