The truth is that it's much more impressive on the outside than on the inside. Like all Lutheran churches, its interior walls are devoid of any adornment, and even I was surprised to see the altar as "elaborate". But it is still beautiful without much decoration. From the outside it is a mixture of a classical building, observatory and graveyard, and this, coupled with the fact that it is on top of a hill makes it appealing and impressive.
The video and audio facility is located on the top floor is super interesting and fun. You must go into a dark room and then there's a huge cinema that projects caledoiscope figures, that are formed with the people from inside the room. The figures change along with the music according to the number of people and the distance between them and the wall. You will definitely be spending at least 10 to 15 minutes playing with this.
A short ferry ride from Helsinki will take you to the UNESCO fortified island of Suomenlinna. The defenses were started by the Swedish government in 1947 however the island was captured by the Russians 53 years later making their effectiveness questionable. There are however plenty of tunnels to explore, bring a small flashlight.
It is rumored to be a good place to listen to the ice crack and sing as the thaw in the Baltic Sea starts. The shift and flow of the melting ice is definitely transfixing, especially as the Tallin ferry passes. Seems to be a Pokémon hotspot, plenty of rock and magnetic types.
The fish market is oceanfront and near the center of Helsinki. It is a perfect place to find the most typical things from the country such as fox fur, wool hats and scarves for the harsh winter and many groceries. The fish stalls were the most abundant and they even gave you samples. The salmon was super good! For the brave they sold reindeer and for the sweet tooth- traditional local sweets. The best thing about this market are the things you can find and that it's in the heart of Helsinki. From there it is easy to reach the [poi = 62535] Helsinki Cathedral [/ poi] and [poi = 246771 ] Uspenski Cathedral (Uspenskin katedraali) [/ poi], both of which are lovely.
This cathedral is very large, not only because of its size (we are talking about the largest Orthodox cathedral in Europe), but also because it is on a small hill, which makes it more robust and impressive. The colors are typical of this area, red brick and domes (13 in total) and is has a golden tone and an oxidized copper green. It also has a viewpoint from which you can see much of the city, the harbor and the pristine white Helsinki Cathedral ([poi = 62535] Helsingin tuomiokirkko [/ poi]). Like all the key points of the city, is in the center so it's easy to come up with it. And if not, seek it!
The Helsinki railway station is definitely a gem of Art Nouveau and a landmark of the city, in Finnish it's called "Helsingin päärautatieasema". It is used by approximately 200,000 passengers per day, and has the Rautatientori Metro Station, which is the busiest station in Helsinki. The most characteristic aspect, aside from its brown and green accents, are its clock tower and the four men at the entrance. They have become so popular that they have even been copied for commercials.
The Paque Jean Sibelius was built in honor of this composer, Johan Julius Christian Sibelius. He was a Finnish symphonic composer of the twentieth century. The majority of his music is the collection of seven symphonies, and they continue to be popular. They are often included in programs and concerts both within Finland and abroad. He was one of the cultural symbols of Finland and a nationalistic spirit. The monument is really modern and is represented by different sized tubes and his head is on the other side. Definitely interesting!
Near Kauppatori, the market square, in Helsinki we found this special market. The truth is that it is not a typical market, with stalls where you can buy food and things for everyday life. It's actually a delicatessen market with Finnish delicacies. For example, sweets. Chocolates of all flavours and colours, chocolates, scones. If you come hungry you'll not be able to resist. Of course, there are also most typical stalls: the fish, especially salmon here in Finland has a special flavor, it's the most delicious. They had fruit shops that looked like they were more exquisite than the typical fruit shops here. They have terrific fish but the fruit is not so common and is highly valued. Pates, tuna and other nicely packaged can all be found. Curiosity: I saw Spanish oil! The truth is even if only to look, this place rocks and is in a great place in the city. You have to go.
There is great architecture in the center of Helsinki. A hiker's dream. The train station Eliel Saarinen is a beautiful building that's surrounded by large planters with colorful flowers. Your roof is a contemporary construction of glass and steel. Another place of interest is the Senate Square, which is between the other buildings surrounding the square, Tuomiokirkko (Lutheran Cathedral consecrated in 1852), the Government Palace and the University Library. In the center of the square stands the statue of Tsar Alexander II from 1894. Next to the statue are more bright flowers that pleasethe insects which look for nectar, leaving us fans of photographt a good image.
Temppeliaukio Lutheran Church is one of the biggest attractions in Helsinki. It was designed by the Suomalainen brothers, both architects. It was officially opened in 1969. The interior was excavated out of rock, but is bathed in natural light through its glass dome. The church is often used as a concert venue due to its excellent acoustics. This quality is achieved by rough rock surfaces that give the impression of a cave more than a church. The furniture of the church was also designed by the architects.
Mannerheimintie is one of the main streets in Helsinki, it is very wide and leads from Erottaja in the city center where you'll find the Swedish theater and the popular Stockman shopping center, then pass by the Töölö area, and the districts of Kamppi and Ruskeasuo, finally reaching a highway that goes out of town. Mannerheimintie was originally called Heikinkatu in honor of Heikki Rehbinder, Secretary of State of the Grand Duchy of Finland in 1811-1841, but was renamed after the Winter War in honor of Marshal Mannerheim. There's plenty of attractions along the street: National Museum of Finland, Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma, the house of Finland, Parliament, statues ... You can also find many typical shops that we have here in Spain as well as the Stockman shopping center which is like El Corte Inglés, the Forum shopping center ... There is a restaurant at the top end of Stockman on the sidewalk out front that has pizza buffet and salads for 10 euros or so and the truth is that you'll eat quite well and the pizzas are very good.
The truth is that it looks like anything but a museum. Because when you see it from afar, it looks like a church, a reformatory, or a convent. But once you get a little closer you can see that it's built with educational purposes in mind. As I said, there were three winners of an architectural competition that took place at the beginning of last century. Each wing has something that distinguishes it from the others, but overall it is a perfect example of Finnish neo-Romanticism. I was very sorry not to be able to go, because it seems that the way it's presented is quite fun. It has become the nation's favorite museum.
I was surprised to find most churches in Helsinki are closed on a Monday morning, but we realised that most of the locals don't usually go out until at least 11 am, so everything was closed until then. We imagined that Helsinki would be flat, but nothing is further from reality. At times it reminded me of San Francisco, with steep streets and buildings built on small hills, like this neo-Gothic church, which was built in 1891 by Molander. Apparently, it is the largest church in the Finnish capital, and has perfect acoustics, especially for choral type music. The towers are 74 metres high and the building can accommodate 2,600 people seated. It extends around a park with the same name, and in the Middle Ages it was where the citizens would come to celebrate the pagan rite of summer solstice, hence why it was chosen as a spot for a Christian church.
Not much more than one of those typical bridges where couples declare their love for each other by leaving a padlock, but worth visiting for its nice location. It's just below the Uspenski Cathedral, next to the restaurants. It's tiny, increasingly overwhelmed by the number of padlocks.
Right in the heart of Helsinki, close to the Market Square, you will find this lovely park where Finns and foreigners alike gather to soak up the sun, or enjoy a drink on the terrace. I loved this park: it was super clean, green, and full of colourful flowers, surrounded by some beautiful examples of Helsinki architecture. There is also a kind of restaurant and bar within the park, with a terrace and tables. In its centre stands a statue of Vart Land surrounded by flowers. And at the end of the park, the famous sculpture of Havis Amanda with its fountain, one of the highlights of the city. If you're visiting the city, you can't miss it.
Katajanokka is an area adjacent to the central district of Helsinki. It's my favorite part of Helsinki, having magnificent buildings and being in its western part. The Uspenski Cathedral is one of my favorite places in Helsinki as well and one of the star tourist attractions. If you climb to the viewpoint of the cathedral there are some very good city and harbor views. The southern part of this district is dominated by the port and large ships departing or cruises to Tallinn, Stockholm and Marieenhamina (the capital of Åland islands set midway between Sweden and Finland). The rest of the district comprises housing cooperatives and some small parks like the one in front of Uspenski. If you are thinking of going to visit Helsinki and want to do it cheaply you can stay in the Eurohostel which is in this neighborhood. If you go two people can have a room for about 40 euros, there is a kitchen on each floor and a very clean and comfortable bathroom with a shower. It is very, very close to the center, about 15 minutes walk but there are also passing trams and buses, because when it's cold the wind has quite a chilly wind (this is normal throughout Helsinki but also as you are near the port). So I sometimes took public transportation.
We had to walk a loooong way to reach the Kallio Church, at least it felt that way. It stands on a hill in the heart of Helsinki. I had expected the city to be flat, but sometimes it reminded me of San Francisco. The church itself was impressive, especially for a lover of Modernism like me. It was built in 1912 and restored in 1986. The inside it's not exactly overwhelming, but every evening at 6:00 the bells in the tower play a melody composed by the great Sibelius.
It was founded in 1872 in Pori, the result of an emergent nationalist spirit against the Russian Empire and an effort to overcome Swedish-speaking culture which was prevailing at that time. The current building was built in 1902, on the north side of the square of Helsinki Central Station, in front of the statue of the writer Kivi which was built by Wäinö Aaltonen back in 1934. The National Theatre of Finland has, for over 130 years, had a very important role in the development of Finnish culture, since it was the first theatre to have a professional production in Finnish.