World's Greatest Places 2021
July 20, 2021 6:33 AM EDT

Long recognized as an environmental leader, Finland’s capital may soon be seen as a burgeoning art hot spot as well, propelled by projects like this summer’s inaugural Helsinki Biennial. Hosted on the uninhabited Vallisaari Island, a former military base 20 minutes by ferry from the city center, the biennial will feature works by more than 40 artists and groups—including sculptor Pawel Althamer and filmmaker Wanuri Kahiu—that speak to the event’s overarching themes of interdependence, sustainability, and creators’ relationship with nature and the sea. Another recently repurposed landmark is a newly opened hotel, Scandic Grand Central Helsinki, housed inside the same Art Nouveau building as the historic Central Railway Station and developed in partnership with the Finnish Heritage Agency to protect the station’s architectural and cultural integrity. Still in discussion: a refurbishing of the capital’s Hanasaari coal-fired power plant, which under one proposal would become a gigantic hub for Helsinki’s arts and culture scene after the plant ceases operations by 2024. —Suyin Haynes

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