In 1812, Helsinki was made capital of Finland by decree of Russian Emperor Alexander I. Finland had been separated from its old mother country Sweden in 1809 in the wake of the great wars in Europe, and annexed to the Russian Empire. The Grand Duchy of Finland immediately dealt with the capital city question. During the period (from about 1200 to 1809) when Finland was a part of Sweden, Stockholm had been the capital of the Finns, and administrative, economic and cultural contacts took place directly between Stockholm and the provinces. In the new situation, Finland’s development was infl uenced by St Petersburg, at the time capital of Russia and an expansive centre of power on the Baltic Sea rim. Due to national and military considerations Helsinki – located only 400 km from St Petersburg – was made capital of the Autonomous Grand Duchy of Finland.5