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Havis Amanda

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Discover the Enchanting Havis Amanda in Helsinki

If you find yourself strolling through the vibrant streets of Helsinki, Finland, make sure to pay a visit to the captivating Havis Amanda. This iconic statue, sculpted by Ville Vallgren in 1906, stands proudly at the Market Square in Kaartinkaupunki and has become one of the most beloved pieces of art in the city.

A Symbol of Rebirth

Havis Amanda, also known as "The Mermaid," is a bronze statue resting on a granite fountain. Vallgren's intention was to symbolize the rebirth of Helsinki, and he achieved this through the depiction of a mermaid rising from the water, surrounded by four sea lions. The statue stands at a height of 1.94 meters (6 ft 4 in), and with its pedestal, it reaches an impressive 5 meters (16 ft) tall.

Controversy and Criticism

When Havis Amanda was unveiled on September 20, 1908, it faced strong criticism, particularly from women. The statue's nudity and seductiveness were considered inappropriate, and some women's rights groups argued that it objectified and weakened women. Despite the initial backlash, Havis Amanda has stood the test of time and is now celebrated as a symbol of beauty and strength.

Fun Traditions and Celebrations

Every year on Vappu, the Finnish celebration of May Day, Havis Amanda takes center stage. Students from local universities gather around the statue for a ceremony called "Mantan lakitus" or "The capping of Manta." In this elaborate tradition, a student cap is placed on the head of the statue, marking the beginning of the festivities.

Unique Experiences

Havis Amanda has also been the backdrop for some extraordinary events. In 2002, renowned artist Spencer Tunick organized a photoshoot where nearly 2000 voluntary nude Finns posed around the statue as part of his Nude Adrift project. Additionally, in 2014, artist Tatzu Nishi constructed a temporary hotel setting called Hotel Manta around the statue, offering visitors a unique and unusual perspective.

When to Visit

To fully appreciate the beauty and significance of Havis Amanda, plan your visit during the warmer months when the fountain is in operation. The surrounding Market Square is a bustling hub of activity, with vibrant food stalls and local vendors. Take a leisurely stroll along the waterfront and enjoy the picturesque views of the Helsinki skyline.


Havis Amanda is not just a statue; it is a symbol of Helsinki's resilience and artistic heritage. Despite the initial controversy, this enchanting sculpture has become an integral part of the city's identity. So, when you find yourself in Helsinki, make sure to pay homage to Havis Amanda and immerse yourself in the rich history and traditions that surround it.

Updated on 27 May 2024

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