One of the many hidden secrets of Helsinki that not even all locals know about let alone tourists and visitors, is the former psychiatric hospital area of Lapinlahti. With prime location right by the sea surrounded by a large leafy green park fairly close to Helsinki city centre, this place boasts fascinating history and depressing hospital stories all the way from the 1840s. Today Lapinlahti is a communal place that invites everyone to relax the mind and body as well as enjoy culture, arts and events.The large yellow building together with several smaller buildings comprises the historic Lapinlahti Hospital (Lapinlahden Sairaala), Finland’s first mental hospital and also one of the first modern psychiatric hospitals in Europe.Designed by Carl Ludvig Engel, the famous German architect behind many Helsinki city centre landmarks, Lapinlahti psychiatric hospital was opened in 1841. This was an era when treatment for mental patients frequently meant chaining people to their beds.
Lapinlahti mental hospital was rather advanced for its time, surrounded by the sea and large gardens to calm and cure patients. From the beginning, gardening was seen as a key part of therapy and nature as a soothing place to relieve stress.Several famous Finnish artists, musicians, actors and writers such as Aleksis Kivi, F.E. Sillanpää and Jean Sibelius’ sister Linda are some of the most notable ex-residents of Lapinlahti hospital.Lapinlahti hospital ceased operation in 2008, after which the building stood in this beautiful seaside spot with no use for a long time, until a couple of years back The Finnish Association for Mental Health (FAMH) together with its partners were announced to create a centre for mental health in Lapinlahti.Today Lapinlahti hospital is a communal living room open for everyone. It functions as an oasis of culture, art and events and as a haven of wellbeing for the mind and body. Lapinlahti former mental hospital has been revived with amenities such as cafes, restaurants, shops, art galleries, sauna etc. On the weekends Lapinlahti gets busy with picnickers and events such as food festivals, flea markets and guided walking tours.The most captivating spot in Lapinlahti is the small Mental Museum, which portrays the history of Lapinlahti psychiatric hospital and how treatments have evolved over time.Exploring the dated corridors, halls and rooms of the main hospital building is very exciting, a real adventure back in time. So interesting to catch a glimpse of how things were back in history.Lapinlahti Former Psychiatric Hospital | Lapinlahdentie 1, 00180 Helsinki
You may want to read more about other Hidden Secrets of Helsinki: