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Sights to See in Helsinki
Tuomiokirkko (The Lutheran Cathedral)

Trapped 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 two lands.

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. Petersburg.  

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.

Visit Helsinki and see Tuomiokirkko (The Lutheran Cathedral)


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Helsinki Sights to See - Tuomiokirkko (The Lutheran Cathedral)

Page Updated 1:12 PM Friday 6/1/2012