Helsinki 200


The county governor of the provinces of Uusimaa and Häme, the perpetually inventive Gustaf Fredrik Stjernvall, presents the idea that Helsinki should become the capital. On 25 October 1810 Stjernvall duly wrote to State Secretary Mihail Speranski, in which he outlined his idea:

“Helsinki’s location between the new and old Finnish towns turns out to be favourable. The city also has an excellent harbour. Helsinki is ideally suited not only to be the capital of the Grand Duchy, but also a flourishing centre of foreign trade”, Stjernvall wrote in his letter, which he headed “A Most Humble Memorandum”.

The problem, however, was that Helsinki’s centre had been destroyed by the great fire of November 1808. Nonetheless, reconstruction brought with it new opportunities:

– “In order to have the appearance that befits its status, the city must be rebuilt in stone”, Stjernvall continued.


On 8 April (27 March on the Julian calendar), the Emperor signed the edict according to which Helsinki would become the Finnish capital.

Although Alexander I’s orders were followed, the decision provoked intense resentment in Turku.