Finland's leading city, with over half a million people, is the only European capital with no medieval past. Founded in the 16th century by the Swedes, the Russians took over Finland in 1809 and modeled the city after their capital, St. Petersburg with handsome architecture and grand boulevards. The daily arrival of cruise ships from around the Baltic Sea energizes Helsinki. Visitors and locals head directly for the bustling harbor square with its colorful outdoor market — "the" place for a casual, quick-and-cheap lunch. After that, a stroll down the lively park-like Esplanadi leads to the center of town. For more information on the Rick Steves' Europe TV series — including episode descriptions, scripts, participating stations, travel information on destinations and more — visit http://www.ricksteves.com.
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