The abandoned houses of Kruunuvuori near Helsinki, Finnland
Originally I planed to go and visit Estonia, but I couldn’t find an affordable and convenient flight so I changed plans (and planes ;) and booked a 4 day weekend trip to Helsinki in Finland instead.
I don't know about you, but my first Google search when planning a trip is "lost place (name of city)" or "abandoned place (name of city)". Only then I search for the usual sightseeing stuff.
Searching for abandoned places near Helsinki, I found a few references to a place named (please speak after me) "Kruunuvuori". All the blog posts an articles I found had pictures of 3-4 different, abandoned and decayed, houses and villas. Jackpot? Nope! Further digging into the subject I had to learn that almost all of them were gone, except for a halfway burned down house and only one was still completely intact.
Pro Travel Tip
Always book a hotel with a 24 hour reception! Our plane was grounded in Vienna for two hours because of a heavy in Frankfurt where I would have needed to change planes. I arrived in Frankfurt two hours late and everything was a little chaotic there.
The thunderstorm messed up all the flight plans. I did catch my plane, but it took off another 3 hours late. I arrived at the Hotel Cumulus City Hakaniemi (Booking.com Link) in Helsinki at 3am instead of midnight. Oh, and I called the hotel and told them I'll be late just to be sure they don't give away my room.
The hotel Cumulus City was affordable, the bus from the airport stops right in front of it and there’s a metro and tram station, too.
A little history of Kruunuvuori
Allegedly the area of Kruunuvuori was already inhabited in the 19th century. In 1905 a german business man, Albert Goldbeck-Löwen bought the area and had plans to develop it into a retreat for the bold and beautiful. After the end of World War II, the area became a holiday resort for the members of the Finnish Communist Party. In 1955, the area was bought by Aarne J. Aarnio. He had plans to develop it and build homes for everyone. But zone laws prevented Aarne to put his plans into practice. This was the beginning of the end of Kruunuvuori.
The abandoned houses
After getting only 4 hours of sleep (damn thunderstorm) I got a few snacks and bottled water from a small store near the hotel before I got onto the metro that would take me to a bus stop of line 88.
Kruunuvuori Is a 30 minute bus ride from the city centre of Helsinki. Once I arrived, I had to walk back a few minutes and to take the first road to the left. This road, that soon turned into a gravel trail, would take me into the Kruunuvuori forest.
After a 20 minute hike that lead me past a small lake I arrived at the first abandoned house; or what was left of it. I call this one the "0.5 house".
I took a number of RAW pics using ProCamera with ISO set to 50 to avoid noise. I continued along the trail and got to the second house a few minutes later. This one is still completely intact. It was built on stilts and the stairs were gone. But if you’re sporty (which I’m not) I’m sure you can find a way to enter the house through the main entrance. A small platform with the main entrance is at a height of approx 6.5 feet.
After taking some more shots using ProCamera, I headed back. On the way I met a Finnish guy and his dog. I asked him if there are any more houses left here. He told me, that all but the two I already found were either torn or burned down during the last years. But he told me about a place where another (now gone) house was located and that I'd have a nice view over the sea and Helsinki but I'd need to go through the covert.
So I switched to Indiana Jones mode and left the beaten path (who wouldn't?). After I few minutes I reached a small hill with some overgrown stone stairs. I went up there. This house that was previously located here was probably the most expensive one. It had probably the best view of all.
So, in total, I found 1 house that was completely intact, a halfway burned down house (+0.5) and a few relics of a third one (+0.01). So in total I found 1.51 abandoned houses. Not bad.
Back to the Helsinki City Center
On my way back to the bus station I found some more leftovers of the former inhabitants, which brings me back to the Indiana Jones thing. If you go there, wear sturdy shoes. The place is quite swampy.
While I waited for the bus, I flipped through the photos I took on my iPhone and deleted those I didn't want to keep. During the bus ride back to the city, I developed the remaining shots using Adobe Lightroom Mobile.
Once I arrived in Helsinki, I got myself the national dish (which seems to be a hot dog; I counted over two dozen of variants and you can get them everywhere!) and spent the rest of the day photographing in Helsinki. I'll cover that in an other blog post soon.