Concrete Turtles in Helsinki
Photograph ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

The Invasion of Concrete Turtles in Helsinki: The Explanation

H elsinki is certainly a walkable city; but I kept seeing concrete turtles in many areas and was wondering if there was any symbolism or significance to them…

…and I found what is believed to be the explanation behind their proliferation about the city, which occurred at least ten years ago.

The Invasion of Concrete Turtles in Helsinki: The Explanation

Established in 1878, Stara is the official construction service for the city of Helsinki which is “a versatile expert in the fields of construction, environmental management and logistics. Our approximately 1,500 professionals take care of Helsinki.” The service is responsible for building repairs, tree plantings, shrubbery plantings, constructing streets and cycling lanes — as well as keeping the city itself clean — but it also takes care of the abundant forests and meadows within the city, outdoor art and public utility services, as well as squares and plazas.

A landscape gardener employed by Stara conjured the idea for the turtles because he wanted to create some alternative concrete obstacles for traffic in Helsinki. “He wanted the alternative obstacles to be fun, and easy to use elsewhere, e.g. on playgrounds for children”, according to this article from the official Facebook Internet web site of Visit Helsinki. “The turtles were chosen as they are slow animals (hence perfect as obstacles for drivers who need to slow down), adorable and easy to pile and difficult to push over.”


There are apparently also concrete pigs, cars and snails around Helsinki; but I have not seen them — at least, not in as much abundance as those concrete turtles, which vary in color but not necessarily in size or shape.

This article was not inspired by this article pertaining to how throwing coins into water adversely affect the green sea turtle as written by Melinda Danielsen of Magic of Miles, which coincidentally happened to be posted today as well — but I encourage you to please read that article, as I learned some important information from it.

The concrete reptiles in Helsinki provide a form of ersatz entertainment for many visitors — including the boy you see mounting one at Market Square in the photograph at the top of this article — and they have collectively become one of the tourist attractions in the city.

Photograph ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

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