I have a few postcards sent from Åland now but up until now I didn't have any of Mariehamn, so when Suvi offered to send me a postcard from there, I just couldn't resist. Thank you so much, Suvi, it's always great to receive postcards from you!
Mariehamn (Finnish: Maarianhamina) is the capital of Åland, an autonomous territory under Finnish sovereignty. Mariehamn is the seat of the Government and Parliament of Åland, and 40% of the population of Åland live in the city. Like all of Åland, Mariehamn is unilingually Swedish-speaking and around 88% of the inhabitants speak it as their native language.
The town was named after Maria Alexandrovna, the Empress consort of Alexander II of Russia. Mariehamn was founded in 1861, around the village of Övernäs, in what was at the time part of the municipality of Jomala. The city has since expanded and incorporated more of Jomala territory. The city is located on a peninsula, and has two important harbours, one located on the western shore and one on the eastern shore. The Western Harbour is an important international harbour with daily traffic to Sweden and mainland Finland. A powerful incentive for Baltic ferries to stop at Mariehamn is that, with respect to indirect taxation, Åland is not part of the EU customs zone and so duty-free goods can be sold aboard. Mariehamn Airport is located in the neighbouring municipality of Jomala, some 3 kilometres north-west of Mariehamn city centre.
Åland and Mariehamn have a reputable heritage in shipping. The Flying P-Liner Pommern museum ship is anchored in the Western Harbour. The Eastern Harbour features one of the largest marinas in Scandinavia. The famous Dutch steamer Jan Nieveen (now called F.P. von Knorring, after Åland teacher and vicar Frans Peter von Knorring) can also be found here.
The city is an important centre for Åland media; both of the local newspapers (Ålandstidningen and Nya Åland), several radio stations and the local TV channels (TV Åland and Åland24) operate out of the city.
Mariehamn features several buildings drawn by Finnish architect Lars Sonck, who moved to Åland as a child. Buildings drawn by him include the church of Mariehamn (1927), the main building of the Åland Maritime College (1927) and the town hall (1939). Hilda Hongell has also designed several buildings, although only a few are still standing.