Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Churches in Helsinki

So, in one morning of active walking, Marie-Claire and I managed to wander our way past three of Helsinki's churches. It was totally fun seeing three such different buildings.

1.  The Helsinki Cathedral.  It is a study in symmetry, and balance.  the day we were there, i was also struck by the symmetry in colour... the white of the snow, and of the building, and of the sky... they were all of a piece.   I also loved the snowplow moving back and forth across the square.  What is NOT so visible in the photo are the stairs in front of the cathedral:  they run the entire distance from left to right.  they only bothered to shovel a small section on the two ends of the square (no surprise there... i can't imagine having that job!)

The inside of the cathedral was also interesting... very simple.  Nothing ornate, nothing with frilly design:  amazing clean lines, and a sense of solidity.  They had a beautiful organ inside, and I wish i were staying other day so I could go listen to the free organ recital on Wednesday afternoon!

The cathedral is on one side of the central public square in Helsinki.  When it was designed, you had the cathdral on one side, the city hall on the right, the university on the left, and the market on the opposite side.  That just about captures everything, eh?  :-)  Here is panorama shot of the square (from the web)

2.  Mere blocks away ins the Uspenski Russian Orthodox church

It is supposed to be the largest orthodox church in Western Europe... a reminant of the russians in finland.  It was built in 1868 (of recycled bricks?) 

We wandered around it from all sides, trying to get inside, but were unsuccessful.  Tonight, I was reading (on wikipedia, source of all knowledge) that it is closed on Mondays.  That explains everything!  :-) 

Lucky for us, even from the outside, it was gorgeous!

3.  Last, we saw the Tuomiokirkko Lutheran Cathedral (the Rock Church).  

This one is new (1969).  It is also totally unbelievable.  I would have walked by without noticing, had i not been looking for it.  

They built it INTO a rock..  From the outside, you see not much more than an outcropping of rock (like you see all over back in Victoria), with a flat copper roof.  

The inside is something totally different!  Light floods in from above, and you are surrounded by rough stone... you can totally smell 'rock'... and the rock is rough-hewn, and veined with colour.  The acoustics are also stunning... they were playing music all the time we were inside.  Quite the experience.  I would love to be there when the pipe organ is in action!


  1. Hello,

    Yes, I saw the Rock Cathedral and the Helsinki Cathedral when I was there. The steps had no snow on them. Still I went to one of the sides to hold the banister on the way up and back down again. And yes to walking right by the Rock Cathedral, if you didn't know it was there. Since I love the earth, I too was amazed by its internal decoration -- all rock.

    I couldn't stop my camera from moving along the walls, and up to the ceiling, and trying to zoom in to the main floor where we couldn't go, for there was a practise for a performance going on there.

    Your pictures tell the whole story.


  2. What a treat to come across you both telling about the same piece of architecture and experience with it!


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