Sights to See in Helsinki
Tuomiokirkko (The Lutheran Cathedral)
for years under the rule of Sweden and then Russia, Finnland's history
is closely tied to the powers, foibles, follies, and grandeur of those
For example, while Tsar Peter of Russia had a well-known impact on St.
Petersburg, Russia, the city that bears his name, less well-known is
the strong influence he had on the capital of Finnland, Helsinki!
Tsar Peter himself had been dead for more than a hundred years by the
time construction began on Helsinki's famed Lutheran Cathedral. However
the architectural brand and stamp his leadership had put on St.
Petersburg continued on when Finland was held by Russia as a Grand
Duchy in the early years of the 19th century.
In fact, much of Helsinki's architecture has its beginnings in St.
Nowhere is this more evident than in the design of Tuomiokirkko.
Undoubtedly one of the most prominent symbols of Helsinki, the Lutheran
church of Tuomiokirkko, in Senate Square,
should be on every tourist's must-see list. Its neo-classical edifice, Corinthian
columns and Classical
dome are the very prototype of many buildings across the world.
Still a functioning church today, whose Lutheran members comprise 83%
of Helsinki's population, it is also one of the most popular tourist
attractions in the city. So much so that over 350,000 come to explore
it every year.
Set high atop a hill in Senate Square, it was begun in 1830 by the
German architect Carl Engel,
one of many German artisans imported during the 19th century. But the
original design saw substantial modifications by the time of the
church's completion in 1852 by Ernst Lohmann.
Engel died in 1840, sadly never seeing the finished edifice.
Not the least of these changes were the addition of two bell towers,
four small domes, and a series of 12 statues of the Apostles
on the roof. The belfry in one of the aforementioned bell towers makes
for an excellent short side-excursion when viewing the interior. A
chapel resides in the other.
The green domes add a beautiful and colorful touch to the white
Greek-style facade. The effect is all the better for being at the peak
of a small hill in the city. That hill is surmounted by fifty brown
brick steps that lend not only a great view but a wonderful color base
for the building.
At the base of the steps is a monument to Tsar Alexander II, that, were
it the only thing there, a sigth worth the trip. The statue stands atop
a large rectangular stone base, surrounded by several statues standing
on their own brown stone elevations. A bit different than other
depictions, in this case Alexander is NOT seated on a horse, making the
effect decidedly different from many other monuments.
In recent years, the interior of Tuomiokirkko
has been extensively renovated, making it well worth seeing as well as
the outside. Seating 1,300, the cathedral contains an impressive
altarpiece that was painted in the 1880s. Angel statues and an imposing
pulpit add to the air of piety.
While all parts have been renovated at one time or another, the part
that received the most renovation, and the most interesting aspect of
the interior, is the crypt.
This dimly lit resting place provides a peaceful, yet eerie sight,
which is in stark contrast to the austere, bright white
décor of the rest of the cathedral's interior, making for
interesting viewing by the visitor to Helsinki's Lutheran Cathedral.
More Sights to See in Helsinki