The Havis Amanda Fountain with a bronze statue of the naked nymph is located at Kauppatori (Market) Square. Ville Vallgren, Finnish sculptor, who lived in Paris, created the fountain, which is made of granite, and the bronze statue in 1908. Havis Amanda is one of Vallgren's Parisian Art Nouveau works. The legend says, that she is a mermaid, rising from the water with four fish spouting water at her feet and surrounded by four sea lions. Choosing this person Vallgren wanted to symbolize the rebirth of Helsinki. The height of the statue is 194 centimetres, but along with the pedestal it is 5 metres tall. According to the letters of the sculptor the model for the statue was Marcelle Delquini, a 19-year-old Parisian girl.
The naked sculpture in the very centre of Helsinki caught a great deal of protests and harsh criticism nevertheless Ville Vallgren's nymph remained at the place. Vallgren called this statue Merenneito ("Mermaid" in English), but soon it got the name Havis Amanda ("Sea Nymph" in Swedish) and Haaviston Manta or simply Manta (in Finnish). Havis Amanda stays the common name of the statue. Over time this graceful bronze figure became a real (but still unofficial) symbol of Helsinki.
Every year during cheerful and a little bit mad Vappu - students' festival held 0n May Eve - rowdy students put on Manta's head a white cap. This tradition dates back to 1930s. The "ceremony" begins strictly at 6 p. m. In 1995 when Finland's national ice hockey team became world champions, this cheerful bronze nymph was dressed in national ice hockey uniform. Thank you Merja for this lovely card.