HELSINKI–The business hotspot in the Senate Square is being prepared to open July 1 at the latest. It’s an initiative sparked by the City of Helsinki, “an adrenaline shot for the downtown area” as it has been described.

The coronavirus pandemic turned the former tourist magnet into a deserted square with most visitors being birds, and an occasional fox.

Next Wednesday, an open-air food court with 16 restaurants selected by the city are open in the setting dating back to the early 19th century.

Here’s where scenes for films have been shot. American director Warren Beatty, for example, found the Finnish bureaucracy less demanding in the 1980s and the setting appealing enough that he didn’t mind being banned from shooting scenes in Russia. Beatty filmed a fine scene for Reds without including the Helsinki Cathedral to give a glimpse of what life was like in the Soviet Union in the early 1920s.

This summer, as the pandemic shows signs of slowing down and restrictions are being lifted, Helsinki hopes to revive interest in its downtown area by creating a physically distanced outdoor eating venue in one of its most famous squares. The hotspot aims to give a leg-up to struggling businesses.

Designer Linda Bergroth has transferred the space into an assortment of allotment gardens. She said the square’s stonework surface inspired her idea. The concept also, according to her, “helps the maintenance of safe distances.”

The garden setup will provide taste experiences from some of Helsinki’s top providers of food and drink. There will be breakfasts, summer lunches, pizza, fried herring, Spanish tapas, fine dining, grilled sausages, cocktails, and craft beers from local microbreweries on offer.

There will be 480 seats for customers, and the Senate Square will be open from 09:00 in the morning until 23:00 in the evening, until the end of August.

The allotment garden is being watered in the Senate Square on Friday, June 26, 2020. Picture: Tony Öhberg/Finland Today
The allotment garden is being watered in the Senate Square on Friday, June 26, 2020. Picture: Tony Öhberg/Finland Today
There are about 200 planter boxes filled with herbs and useful plants to separate the restaurant spaces from each other. Picture: Tony Öhberg/Finland Today
There are about 200 planter boxes filled with herbs and useful plants to separate the restaurant spaces from each other. Picture: Tony Öhberg/Finland Today
The Senate Square consists of of a grid of 3 x 3 meter squares. This provides a clear basis for the individual gardens. Picture: Tony Öhberg/Finland Today
The Senate Square consists of of a grid of 3 x 3 meter squares. This provides a clear basis for the individual gardens. Picture: Tony Öhberg/Finland Today
There are also wooden cottages familiar to the visitors from the Christmas market. Picture: Tony Öhberg/Finland Today
There are also wooden cottages familiar to the visitors from the Christmas market. Picture: Tony Öhberg/Finland Today
The seagulls are likely to love the open-air food court. Luckily, the area will be covered with a bird net. Picture: Tony Öhberg/Finland Today
The seagulls are likely to love the open-air food court. Luckily, the area will be covered with a bird net. Picture: Tony Öhberg/Finland Today
The pastel colors of the stalls have been designed to fit in with the surrounding milieu. Picture: Tony Öhberg/Finland Today
The pastel colors of the stalls have been designed to fit in with the surrounding milieu. Picture: Tony Öhberg/Finland Today
Tony Öhberg