Ilmarinen and Väinämöinen

Robert Stigell

The restaurant Wanhan Kellari, which opened in this building in 1964, was for a long time one of the most important meeting places for gays and lesbians in Helsinki. The two Kalevala heroes on the façade of the Old Student House, however, were famously unfortunate in matters of intimate relations. The sage of the Finnish epic, Väinämöinen, chased a young maid, Aino, but she drowned herself rather than be wedded to him. The master blacksmith Ilmarinen forged a perfect woman out of gold and silver, who nevertheless proved to be a cold bedfellow.