The Pornaistenniemi area includes a variety of different habitats: lush, herb-rich common alder forests, coastal meadows and reed beds. The coastal forest of Pornaistenniemi has been growing in its natural state for a long time, as is evident from surveys indicating that it houses an impressive 56 polypore and 99 corticioid fungi species.
Over 300 different species of birds have been sighted in Vanhankaupunginlahti over the years. The coastal forests house lesser spotted woodpeckers and thrush nightingales, while the reed beds are home to citrine wagtails, sedge warblers, Eurasian reed warblers and the largest population of bearded reedlings in Finland. Pornaistenniemi is also a valuable reptile and amphibian habitat. It is one of the few places in Helsinki where you can find moor frogs.
The summer hut area on Lammassaari island offers plenty of daytime hiding places and breeding sites for bats. The extensive bat population of Lammassaari and nearby Kuusiluoto consists of northern bats, Daubenton’s bats, whiskered bats and grey long-eared bats. The bird watching tower on Lammassaari is an excellent place for observing the nesting of grey herons on the island of Loppi in the other side of the bay, as well as the bay’s numerous other waterfowl and the waders foraging the mudflats. There are a total of six bird watching towers, four accessible bird watching platforms and one bird hide in different parts of the bay.
There are plenty of recreational trails and paths around Vanhankaupunginlahti.
Pornaistenniemi is circled by the easy to navigate and accessible Heart of Nature path that is approximately 1 km long.
The Duckboard path to Lammassaari is accessible and 2.4 km long. The duckboard path leads to an accessible bird watching platform, which is located next to a bird watching tower. When the ground is not frozen, the reed beds may only be navigated using the marked routes.
Vanhankaupunginlahti was designated a nature reserve in 1959. This bird wetlands have been a notable hiking destination since the 19th century, when the area was visited several times by bird painter Magnus von Wright, among others. In the 20th century, the Vanhankaupunginlahti area was famous for its black-headed gulls, which nested in their thousands around the wetland ponds.
Pornaistenniemi is a Finnish corruption of the peninsula’s Swedish name, Borgnäs. After the establishment of Helsinki in the 1550s, the plan was to build defensive earthworks on the peninsula. At the time, the peninsula was also the site of a royal Swedish shipyard. There are two sheds on the shores of Pornaistenniemi left over from the time that the peninsula was used as a base for operations by log driving companies in the early 20th century.
Lammassaari was already inhabited in the late 19th century, when it was part of the lands of Viikki Manor. At the time there was a cartway leading to the island where the duckboards are now located. The island was leased by Raittiusyhdistys Koitto ry in 1904 for use as a summer camp. That same year saw the construction of the Lepola building, which was followed by the construction of Pohjolan Pirtti (Pohjola Cabin) in 1905.
Originally people only took daytime trips to Lammassaari on large church boats. Eventually people also started staying overnight in the Lepola building and in tents. From 1913 onwards, visitors started building light carboard huts on the island, which were taken down for the winter. The construction of the island’s characteristic summer huts began in the 1940s. Nowadays there are just over 100 privately-owned summer huts in the area.
Learn more about the nature of Vanhankaupunginlahti bay area at citynature.eu.
How to get there
The journey from Helsinki Railway Station takes around 30 minutes by bus. Get directions.