Kruununhaka (Crown’s paddocks) is one of the oldest districts of Helsinki. The city centre was moved here from the mouth of the Vantaanjoki river in 1640. The area is known for its vintage shops and old architecture. It is also here that one of the Helsinki best-known ghosts lives in Vironkatu 1.
The story of a Russian marine officer is tragic. Colonel Aleksi returned home from a trip and found his wife with another man. He couldn’t stand the shame and grief and hanged himself in the attic of the house he lived. The restless soul of the poor colonel is believed to have haunted the building in the Vironkatu ever since it happened in the early 1900s.
Over the years the officer’s ghost has been seen several times. A certain woman resident in the house was so much frightened by it that she wouldn’t dare to return to her apartments late at night without someone accompanying her. At nights Aleksi would torture the woman by knocking on the windows and walls of her flat. In the end the poor woman moved away.
Another time when he frightened someone badly was when the building in Vironkatu 1 became a part of the University of Helsinki. He disturbed a lady, a foreign guest of the University staying overnight in the building. She said she had seen “a tall man wearing officer suit” stepping through the bathroom door; he disappeared when she panicked.
The room that belonged to the colonel and his wife is believed to have a bizarre effect on people. After the colonel’s suicide it used to be a meeting room of some city committee. People noticed that it was very hard to breath in the room even thought the windows were open. People who have never had any asthma symptoms felt suffocating. Only after they had left the room they felt better.
Those who have seen Aleksi described him as a noble looking, dignified, slim man wearing a peaked hat. Some have seen him in the building elevator holding his head under his arm. I guess, that is why the ghost was nicknamed Headless Colonel. His sightings are preceded by the sound of heavy footsteps and bizarre oppressing feeling. People who claim to have experienced the presence of the ghost told that he looked like he needed attention and help.
These days the building in Vironkatu 1 belongs to the University of Helsinki. Aleksi is said to be interested in the papers that belong to the researches of the Helsinki University. Sounds of papers being furiously shuffled in an empty room and a mess in the papers are attributed to him. Isn’t it curious that people working at the university would have stories like this? May be Aleksi’s ghost does haunt the rooms of Vironkatu 1?
When I was in Kruununhaka in April the building in Vironkatu 1 was under reconstruction, and, who knows, it may drive the poor colonel away.