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Sights to See in Helsinki
Uspenski Cathedral

One of the most notable and known landmarks of Finnland's capital, Helsinki, the Uspenski Cathedral should be on everyone's list of sights to see on a visit to this Finnish city. Completed in 1868, it is reportedly the largest Orthodox Church in Western Europe. Though, to the minds of some, at least, Finland may not exactly qualify as 'west'. But whatever the status of that particular record, the church is a spectacular sight.

Its setting atop a hill the site makes for an amazing sight from far away, that just becomes more impressive the closer one gets. From as far away as the city's active marketplace it's still possible to see the huge structure.

Thanks to the very open space surrounding it, one can get a panoramic view of the entire building from fifty meters away. The observer can then enjoy a close up view walking up the hill. Turning around at the top, one can get a great view of the city below.

The cathedral is still a functioning religious center today and center of the Finnish Orthodox Church, currently numbering about 60,000 members. It is the seat of the Archdiocese of Helsinki, which has administrative ties to the Patriarchate in Constantinople.

Be that as it may, anyone, no matter their religious beliefs, or lack of them, can still enjoy the splendor that is this magnificent structure in Helsinki. The deep red walls of Uspenski Cathedral, sometimes called The Russian Cathedral, form a superb base for the green and gold domes.

Constructed in a Russian-Byzantine style, it was actually modeled after a 16th century church located near Moscow, Assumption Cathedral in Vladimir. The Helsinki cathedral is covered in red brick and provides an outstanding look back into Finland's past. The bricks used in its construction were brought from a fortress destroyed during the Crimean War, Bomarsund Fortress in Aland.

The huge central dome of Uspenski Cathedral is supported atop four enormous granite pillars. It is surrounded by many other domes  (technically known as 'cupolas') - in the familiar onion-shaped style common to Russian Orthodox churches. Thirteen in all, they were intended to be symbolic of Jesus and the Apostles.

Beneath these domes are a series of superbly shaped and beautifully adorned arches and Byzantine-style crosses. In the interior can be seen the large iconostasis, i.e. a wall of religious paintings and icons, executed by Russian artists.

On the southern side of the site there is a three-story belltower that gives the famous one at Notre Dame in Paris a run for its money.

Around the interior there are plenty of icons to view, as is common in many 19th century or older religious buildings. Less common than those, however, Uspenski Cathedral has a display of chandeliers hanging from the vaulted ceiling that would be the envy of royalty.

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Sights to See in Helsinki - Uspenski Cathedral

Page Updated 1:26 PM Friday 6/1/2012