Join us for a 1.5-hour-walk through Mariehamn where we focus on shipping and other maritime features of Mariehamn. We walk along one of the longest linden avenues in Scandinavia, starting either at the market place and ending at the Maritime museum or vice versa.
Mariehamn was founded by the Russian emperor Alexander II in 1861 and was named after his wife, empress Maria Alexandrovna.
After the town was founded shipping developed quickly and several shipping companies were established. The men left to work at sea and the women were left to take care of the children, homes and finances, leading to Åland women becoming very independent. The ships got bigger by time and the times spent at sea grew longer.
The town hall, drawn by the architect Lars Sonck, was finished right before the start of World War II. At that time there were 2500 inhabitants in Mariehamn. Today almost half of the 30,000 inhabitants of Åland live in the only town.
Near the market place we also find Självstyrelsegården, headquarters of the local government and local parliament, as well as the state’s official building in Åland. Åland has been an autonomous part of Finland with legislative rights in internal affairs for a hundred years. In the market place you will see a statue of Julius Sundblom, created by the sculptor Wiktor Jansson, father of Tove Jansson (creator of the Moomins). Julius Sundblom was elected the first speaker of the local parliament and held the office for the first 20 years of autonomy.
The former home and office of the last, and during his time also largest sailing fleet owner, Gustaf Erikson is situated along our route. His sailing ships carried wheat from Australia to England. His neighbour was his cousin, also shipowner, August Troberg. That house has been turned into a retirement home. August Troberg and his wife Johanna donated funds to build a church in Mariehamn. The church was also drawn by Lars Sonck and is situated in the middle of our walk.
Across from the church we find another church, for the Missionary congregation. This building was drawn by Hilda Hongell, a woman from Mariehamn who became the first female master builder in Finland.
We will pass by the Russian consulate. In Mariehamn we also have a Swedish consulate, near the western harbour.
Near the end of our route we can see the statue called ”Havets folk” (people of the sea).
By the maritime Museum we find the sad memorial of sailors lost at sea. The fog-bell from the lighthouse Gustaf Dahlén reminds us of the times when navigation was carried out without the help of satellites. Modern technology has saved us from many accidents at sea. There is also an Albatross-sign which is the memorial sign of the A.I.C.H (the international association of Cape Horners, an association for seafarers who have rounded the Cape Horn under sail on a non-stop passage of more than 3000 miles).
The walk ends in the courtyard of the Maritime museum, where we can already see the silhouette of the four-masted barque Pommern.