East of Helsinki you will find Kruunuvuori, or “The Crown Mountain.” Dilapidated and forgotten for decades, these villas have been left at the mercy of nature. Just three kilometers from the center of the city, the collection of villas struggled against elements and time.
Kruunuvuori came into existence in the late 19th century, when Laajasalo and all of eastern Helsinki were just fields and forests. The stunning coastline and lush forest made it a paradise. In 1900, German businessman Albert Goldbeck-Löwen acquired the area and developed it into a resort for the upper classes and the wealthy Germans who lived in Helsinki, but over time it became available to the middle-class masses as well.
After WWII, as part of the armistice between Germany and the Soviet Union, Kruunuvuori fell into the hands of the Communist Party of Finland and became a holiday resort for its members. In 1955 employer Aarne J. Aarnio took ownership of the area with the lofty idea of turning it into a residential area for thousands of people. Of course, the villas still belonged to their former owners and while the community remained vibrant and active for a while, a feeling of uncertainty began to creep in and maintenance of buildings was soon being neglected. Zoning laws hindered the construction plans, and their negative successive building permit made Aarnio lost interest in the project. Silently, the decadence faded, and decay began to seize the mountain.
The Crown Mountain is a mysterious place, ideally seen and experienced in person. Amongst the woods and fog stands this beautifully sad monument, a decaying memory of the old glory days of the aristocracy and high bourgeoisie that still resists the ravages of wind, snow and builders without scruples.
Note: All the villas have been destroyed by arson. The last standing villa (Villa Hällebo) was burned in the May of 2021.
Know Before You Go
The path that leads to Kruunuvuori starts at the end of Paatie Street, on the western end of Laajasalo. The best way to get there using public transport is to take the metro to Herttoniemi and from there bus 88 until the last stop. There is only one house left (the one with the gorilla face) as of July 2018. There is a ruin of another house and all other houses have been demolished and removed.