Welcome to the homepage of Vartiosaari - the Guardian Island!
Vartiosaari is one of the tens of thousands of islands that form the archipelago of Finland’s southern and western Baltic Sea coast. It lies about 7 km east of the center of the Finnish capital city Helsinki. Along its northern shore only as little as a few dozen meters separate the island from the continental mainland. However, when roaming along Vartiosaari’s rocky forest paths, it is hard to believe that one is actually still within the city limits of a European metropole.
Helsinki presents itself nowadays as a modern Nordic center of business, culture, education and administration. At Vartiosaari, time seems to have been frozen in the period between the end of the last ice age, the Viking settlements and, most recently, the golden era of rich Scandinavian’s summertime residence in the countryside before the Second World War. And indeed, genuine traces of all these periods of southern Finnish natural and cultural history can stull be found at Vartiosaari.
Perhaps more obvious to the present-day city dwellers is, however, the absence of some typical attributes of urban life: there are no roads, cars, street lights or shops anywhere on the island. Several attempts have been made since the 1940s by planning officials of the city of Helsinki to bring all those things to Vartiosaari, along with concrete multistore buildings for up to 10 000 inhabitants. Still, the island so far has retained its charming and tranquil countryside appearance, and there is well-founded hope that it will be allowed to do so in the future.
It has been the expressed wish of thousands of Citizens of Helsinki over the past years that Vartiosaari’s roughly 100 hectares of forest land, meadows and shore areas should not be sacrificed to the pressure of Helsinki’s fast urban growth. Instead, they successfully advocated the island to be carefully developed as a public recreational area.
Numerous social and cultural clubs, as well as other non-profit organizations currently rent some of the beautiful wooden summer-villas at Vartiosaari and make use of the island for various activities. These events take place mainly -but not only- during the ice-free season from April to October.
Thousands of private citizens also visit Vartiosaari every year on their own account. They browse the dense forests for mushrooms, herbs and berries, some rent and cultivate small vegetable fields on the island, and many more come to walk or ski, or simply to sit in silent solitude at the Viking Hill, Vartiosaari’s name-giving and most prominent lookout point with its breathtaking sea-view.
It was an association of some of the above mentioned clubs, private citizens and the presently 20 year-round inhabitants of Vartiosaari called „Vartiosaari Seura ry.“, that has decided to initiate this website as a channel to introduce and open up Vartiosaari to a wider public seeking recreation form the busy 21st century urban lifestyle.