Vantaa is one of the two major satellite cities of Helsinki, along with Espoo. With the population of 215,000, Vantaa is a bit smaller than Espoo, and unlike Espoo it is landlocked, being located to the north of Helsinki (Espoo is to the west, enjoys a long shoreline, and includes a large number of islands and skerries). Otherwise it is mostly indistinguishable from Espoo though; a mishmash of mostly residential neighborhoods, most of them built from about 1950-1960s to the present day, often separated by small forests or other natural features.
I already told the brief history of Vantaa (formerly known as Helsinge parish village) in the previous part. Like Espoo, Vantaa predates Helsinki itself but it has been a minor village for the majority of its existence. St. Lawrence Church is one of the few relics (if not the only one) of the old Vantaa. The current administrative center of Vantaa is Tikkurila neighborhood as that’s where the city council and other services are located, but otherwise Tikkurila is not particularly special.
You might have heard of Vantaa from the name of Helsinki-Vantaa Airport, which is indeed located in Vantaa, 20 km from central Helsinki. In fact the airport splits the dumbbell-shaped Vantaa nearly in two. Like many big cities Helsinki outgrew its original airport named Malmi, which is located closed to the inner city, and has been repurposed for general aviation (and will probably be closed down in future).
We’ll have a look mostly at two Vantaa neighborhoods, named Kartanonkoski and Tikkurila.
Suggested soundtrack for this part: Teleks – Hiljaa virtaa Vantaa (Finn. Quetly flows Vantaa):
Now, Finland, a land of thousand lakes (or, rather 187,888 lakes, as is commonly quoted, though I suppose the exact number depends on how you define a lake), is at the same time surprisingly poor in major rivers. There are some, like Oulujoki, Kemijoki, or Tornionjoki, but these tend to gravitate to the north (Lapland and Northern Ostrobothnia regions). In Southern Finland, on the other hand, the only major river that flows into the Gulf of Finland is Kymijoki in the southeast of the country*.
* Vuoksi may technically count, but it takes a very circuitous route, flowing through Karelian Isthmus in Russia into Ladoga Lake, which in turn discharges into the Gulf of Finland through Neva River.
Central Helsinki in particular lacks any freshwater bodies at all. This might not be immediately obvious, what with all the brackish water of Gulf of Finland around it, but it’s mildly curious when you think about it. Why wasn’t Helsinki built at the mouth of a river, like Turku or Porvoo or Kotka?