It is exciting to learn about a city through urban legends that may be true, may not be true, but they thrill your imagination and take you on the journey through history. Although, compared to most other world capitals Helsinki is a very young one, it has a rich urban folklore heritage. This post will be about ghost stories of Helsinki.
I did my own little research looking for a reliable ghost stories sources for the blog. Turns out that an official keeper and collector of ghost stories of Helsinki is Anna, lecturer at Helsinki City Museum. She was also a consultant for an amazing web resource about Helsinki – Nopsa Travel (check their haunted houses tour). With their help I discovered more ghosts than I expected there are in Helsinki: White lady of villa Kleineh, the ghost of the old Opera House, the headless colonel, the crying virgin of Eläintarha, and others . Almost all the haunted houses are concentrated in the centre of Helsinki. And just like any such like story, ghost stories of Helsinki are rather sad and mysterious, than scary.
Ladies first and here is the story of White Lady of Villa Kleineh and the oldest house in Kaivopuisto.
Nowadays Kaivopuisto is one of the oldest city parks and a home to several embassies (United States, Estonia, Spain, France, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom). Just walking in this part of the park and watching at the old houses is a treat. Each house is different in style from its neighbour and they all look like they have a story to tell. Just like Villa Kleineh, the oldest house in the area at Itäinen Puistotie 7.
The villa was built in 1839 to be let to the guests of the bath resort Ullalinna. 1850s was the golden age of Ullalinna resort for it became a popular holiday destination for aristocrats and rich people from Russia and Baltic countries. What a place Kaivopuisto used to be back then! The park was full of beautifully dressed people, music played everywhere, restaurant and cafes welcomed guests. Parties and balls were organized for the nobility on Wednesdays and for common people dance evenings were held on Sundays.
In 1857 a famous Helsinki restaurateur, Louis Kleineh, bought the house for his family and since then it has been known as Villa Kleineh. The White Lady of villa Kleineh was the second wife of the restaurateur, Maria Kleineh. It is not exactly clear why she still roams the halls of the villa as a ghost. Probably, she enjoyed her life, as it was back then so much, she was unable to leave the place even after death and her nostalgic ghost stayed in the house to maintain the order.
After the Second World War the villa was housing the British delegation of the Allied Commission. Apparently, White Lady didn’t like the new residents because, among other things, she scared one of the English maids, living in the house, almost to death.
In 1999 the villa was let as a residence to the ambassador of the Netherlands and some time later it was sold altogether to the Netherlands state. Nowadays the house is the official residence to the ambassador of the Netherlands. Looks like the new owners of the house are more to White Lady’s liking.
Have you read or heard any other urban legends of Helsinki?