There is a strange secret hiding deep beneath the streets of Helsinki. Far below the surface of this Finnish city, a network of tunnels stretches for hundreds of miles. They connect vast chambers and subterranean buildings in a labyrinth of gargantuan proportions. But what is this seemingly-sinister, sunken complex? And why was it built in the first place?
The mysterious tunnels beneath Helsinki
On a cold day, temperatures in Finland’s capital can drop below -4°F. But for those in the know, there is a way to escape the freezing weather. Just head deep underground, where you’ll find a sprawling complex of tunnels, rooms, and passageways that crisscross the bedrock beneath Helsinki.
Of course, it's not unusual for an urban area to have winding subway tunnels beneath the pavement. But what makes Helsinki's tunnels special is how many of them aren't meant for traveling — at least, not exclusively.
The city's master plan
First built during the Cold War, these underground chambers have become a part of daily life for many of Helsinki’s 650,000 inhabitants. But as they navigate the sunken streets, how many of them are aware of the dark truth behind the city’s master plan?
So many modern cities have been shaped by the fear of war, and Helsinki is no different. The cavernous bunkers serve a terrifying dual purpose.
The bunkers conceal live-saving features
According to the website My Helsinki, the underground tunnels — some of which open up into big, cavernous rooms — cover more than 100 million square feet. These rooms were actually designed to double up as doomsday bunkers, which should protect citizens in the event of war.
As it turns out, the plain walls and dank underground atmosphere of the bunkers conceal some unique features... features that could end up saving lives. The fact that people's safety is routinely at risk may sound like a surprise, especially in a city as beloved as Helsinki.
The happiest place on Earth
Today, Finland and its capital are regarded as among the happiest places on Earth. With clean air, good healthcare, and an excellent education system, the country regularly ranks at the top of global listings on the best places to live.
But looking back through the past, the region has experienced a surprising amount of turmoil as well. After all, Finland's reputation as the "happiest country in the world" wasn't earned overnight.