Finally, I had the chance to check out one of the coolest tours in town: Helsinki Horror Walk. The 2-hour-long walk took us from the Katajanokka Prison Hotel to the very center of the city. On the way we got to hear intriguing ghost stories, urban legends and local mysteries.
More Helsinki, less horror
The walk was set up by Happy Guide Helsinki, which organises various different tours around town, like Sauna tours and Tom of Helsinki Experience, just to name a few. Our Horror Walk started from Hotel Katajanokka, a former prison which has held inside its walls not just gruesome criminals but also some more prestigious inmates, such as Finland’s former President Risto Ryti. When the prison was transformed into a hotel, one particular window was left with bars – the room where Ryti was kept.
Our guide turned out to be a Katajanokka and Helsinki local, and all in all a really fun fellow. His style was very laid back and relaxed, and his quirky sense of humour was an important part of the whole experience.
We started with the story of the first serial killer in Finland, the terrible Juhani Aadaminpoika. During the dark days of October and November in 1849, Juhani took the lives of 12 people in all, including his mother and father-in-law. After five weeks of massacre, Juhani was finally caught and brought to Viborg castle. He was chained into a tiny hole in the ground so that he wasn’t able to move much more than an inch. After year and a half of tight imprisonment he was dead.
After walking past the Uspenski Cathedral, we arrived to a tiny bridge which crosses from Katajanokka to the city center side. Here we were told some hilarious tales of a Finnish alcohol smuggler and small-time criminal named Algoth Niska. During times of prohibition Niska sold a spirit called ‘pirtu’ to higher class circles. An interesting character, one must admit, as he was also a successful footballer and happens to be the grandfather of the famous Finnish singer Danny. Niska indeed played in the very first matches of the Finnish National Team in 1911-12, and also played a few years for HIFK, which I also happen to have a long history with. Fun fact, I actually got to meet Danny for the first time just a few days ago during a video shoot.
Poltergeist and freemasonry
Then it was only natural to have a brief stop at a local brewery & bar called Bryggeri, which I must recommend to all visiting Helsinki. We continued through the Esplanad park and discussed a bit about the statues therein and their rather interesting relations to freemasonry.
We also ended the tour with references to freemasonry, which I’m not going to spoil out for you. I haven’t been all that interested in the subject, to be honest, but I definitely had to dig up some more information after hearing these tales (and theories). I’m always up for mysterious rites and codery.
Right at the city center, we were told about the wonderful story of a poltergeist at Hotel Marski, which lies right besides Mannerheimintie. An absolutely enchanting story, dating back to the second World War, it describes a classic haunting of an old woman in a long black coat, uttering just a few hypnotic words: “Take me away from here.”
To conclude, I had a fun couple of hours and I do recommend trying out this tour, especially if you wish for a more local view on Helsinki’s history, spiced up with some chilling tales.
More about Happy Guide Helsinki: www.happyguidehelsinki.com