Helsinki, Finland was founded in 1550 by the Swedish King Gustav Vasa. In 1748 the building of the Suomenlinna Fortress began. This drew more people to the city and gave it a more cosmopolitan air. As a result of the war of 1808- 1809, Sweden was forced to cede Finland to Russia. In 1812 Tsar Alexander declared Helsinki the capital of autonomous Finland. In 1917 the city was to become the capital of the independent Republic of Finland. In safeguarding its historical heritage, Helsinki has again and again been forced to reassess the past.
Cultural influences from both East and West have molded the life of the city, which has nevertheless preserved an outlook on life that is inherently Finnish. Over the years the city has spread and its population multiplied, yet nature is still close at hand – the sea and islands are dominant features of the landscape.
Among the most striking features of the Helsinki architecture are the largish areas built in a uniform style. The city thus has whole blocks and even districts representing Neoclassical, Art Nouveau, National Romantic, functional or modern architecture. The oldest area in Helsinki that has been preserved intact is the Senate Square. Reminiscent of St. Petersburg in its neoclassical style.
Below are the 5 major attractions in Helsinki which any traveler that part of town must never miss.
1. The Uspenski Cathedral
The Uspenski Cathedral is the largest orthodox church in Western Europe and the Archdiocese seat in Finland. Its deep-red brick walls, monolithic granite pillars and green-and-gold 13 onion domes are incredibly picturesque — the domes represent Christ and the twelve apostles. With its golden cupolas and redbrick facade, the church is one of the clearest symbols of the Russian impact on Finnish history. Visible from great distances this picturesque cathedral does not blend with the rest of Helsinki’s architecture but stands on its own.
2. Helsinki Cathedral
The Helsinki Cathedral is an Evangelic Lutheran church, and for many it is the symbol of Helsinki. The church was designed by architect Carl Ludwig Engel in the 19th century as part of the Empire-style-downtown Helsinki area.
3. Senate Square
The Senate Square and its surroundings form a unique and cohesive example of Neoclassical architecture. The square is dominated by four buildings designed by Carl Ludvig Engel – Helsinki Cathedral, the Government Palace, the main building of the University of Helsinki and the National Library of Finland.
4. The Sibelieus Park and Monument
The Sibelius monument sculpted by by Eila Hiltunen, located within the Sibelius park is an unusual steel monument from 1967, commemorating the great Finnish composer Jean Sibelius. The Sibelius Monument, resembling 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.
5 Temppeliaukio Church (The Church in the Rock)
The Church in the Rock was completed in 1969 and carved out of a solid rock and topped with a copper dome. Only the dome is visible from the outside. The pantheon-like interior is enhanced by the rugged granite walls and the copper-plated cupola. The excellent acoustics make this a favorite venue for concerts.
And last of all, I would like to share some photos I took while walking and driving around the city of Helsinki.