Helsinki, daughter of the Baltic

We reached Helsinki by taking an overnight cruise ship from Stockholm and crossing the Baltic Sea.

The predominant element of Helsinki, Finland’s capital is the sea.  This largest city of Finland’s  shoreline is adorned by around 100 kilometres of coast and over 300 islands of which many are accessible for recreational use.

One of the many cafes in Helsinki where customers just watch people go by

Compared to major metropolises, the beat of Helsinki is laid-back and relaxed. Most of the city’s tourist attractions and hot spots are within walking distance from each other. The public transport system is comfortable and reliable, and has been ranked among the best in Europe.

Possessing a strong maritime heritage, it is said that the sea gave birth to Helsinki and the harbours raised her.

Uspenski Cathedral

After we left the Pier, our first stop was the  Uspenski Cathedral.  The Uspenski Cathedral is a Russian Orthodox cathedral on the Katajanokka peninsula in Helsinki. It is the largest Orthodox church in western Europe.

The exterior of Uspenski Cathedral is not elaborately decorated, but is nevertheless striking with its deep-red brick walls and green-and-gold onion domes.

There are 13 onion domes in all, representing Christ and the twelve apostles.

The cathedral was built during the nineteenth century during a period in which Finland was part of the Russian Empire. The cathedral was designed by the Russian architect Aleksei Gornostayev, who died in 1862 before the cathedral was built.

As the largest Orthodox church in western Europe, the cathedral also impresses by its sheer size. The central dome is held aloft by four monolithic granite pillars.

Inside, the cathedral houses a rich display of icons and other typical Orthodox decorations, including an impressive array of chandeliers hanging from the vaulted ceiling. One of the icons is believed to work miracles.

The Senaatinotori (Senate)  Square and the Neo-Classical Centre

In the 17th century the site which is now known as the Senaatintori or Senate square comprised a market place, a church and a graveyard.  A great part of the city was destroyed during the Great Nordic War, and the reconstruction of the buiildings surrounding the square was stasrted in 1721.  Today, the square is the scene for many cultural activities and all kinds of events.

Helsinki Cathedral

Senate Square and its surroundings make up the oldest part of central Helsinki. Landmarks and famous buildings surrounding the square are the Helsinki Cathedral, the Government Palace, main building of the University of Helsinki, and Sederholm house (Sederholmin talo), oldest building of central Helsinki dating from 1757.

The beautiful Cathedral and its green central dome is a dominant element in the Senate square.  Services are held in the Cathedral not only for the congregation but also for the Parliamentary session and for universities.

The Government Palace, the University, the Cathedral and the buildings on the southern side of the square form a rare example of neo-classical continuity.

Czar Alexander II, and the figures of Lex, Pax, Lux and Labour

In the middle of the square is the statue of czar Alexander II, who was favourably inclined towards reforms and highly appreciated by the people of Finland.  The statue was sculpted by Walter Runeberg.  The figures below feature Jurisprudence (Lex), Peace (Pax), Light (lux) and Work (Labour).

Rosa, Aida and Nenet laze at the park

Temppeliaukio Church

Outside the Church


My face was overexposed due to the flash. Taken inside the Temppeliaukio Church

The Temppeliaukio Lutheran Church is built into solid rock with unfinished granite walls. It was designed by Timo and Tuomo Suomalainen and completed in 1969.

The ceiling made from copper and glass

More than 700 people can be seated under its beautiful cupola made of copper and glass.

The interior, designed by the architect brothers, repeats the shades of granite, the most common type of stone in Finland: red, mauve and grey. The benches are made of birch. The crucifix, candelabra and font were forged by artist, Kauko Moisio. The textiles were designed by textile artist, Tellervo Strömmer. The organ, built by Urkurakentamo Veikko Virtanen, has 43 stops. The exterior of the organ was designed by the architects of the church.

The Temppeliaukio church is a popular concert facility and wedding church. There is a split-level platform for the choir, and floor space is reserved for an orchestra. The Temppeliaukio church has no bells. Recorded bell tunes composed by professor Taneli Kuusisto chime through the speakers on the exterior stone wall.

The stone wall surrounding the church has been constructed of quarried stones held together with steel bindings.

Close up of the granite rocks which was used to build the church

Based on the number of visitors, this church is the most popular architectural sight in Finland.

Taken outside the Church.  Some people try to climb the rocks to get to the rooftop of the church

Sibelius Monument

In the Sibelius park is the world famous composer Jean Sibelius’ (1865-1957) monument by Eila Hiltunen.  I noted that the composer died on the year I was born 🙂
Face of Jean Sibelius (circa 1910) in cast stainless steel
The Sibelius Monument, recembling organ pipes, is made of welded steel with the bust of the composer on one side. The monument is one of Helsinki’s most popular statues and one of the most well known tourist attractions. The monument is 8,5m high, 10,5m wide and 6,5m deep. It is built of over 600 pipes and weighs 24 tons.

More of Helsinki

They say Santa comes from Finland 🙂
The famous store of Finland
Shopping and Pedestrian street of Helsinki

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