Helsinki – unexpected beauty in north Europe

March 7, 2024

What is your first association when somebody mention Helsinki? Capital of Finland, one of the biggest cities in nortern Europe, good infrastructure, Happiest people on Earth…but if you newer been to Helsinki and your associations are based on news and media, you would newer know that Helsinki is beautiful city, full of amazing architecture, old cathedrals, islands, nature and one of the most interesting libraries in the world.

If you are visiting Helsinki for the first time, 3 days would be enough to have first imperssion and to see main sights. Beside unique architecture and cultural tourism of the city, you have to spend some time in nature too. Helsinki is surrounded by nature and small islands that forms archipelago just outside of city center.

Market Square

Located at the South Harbour at one end of the Esplanade Park, the Market Square is Helsinki’s most international and famous market. The booths here sell traditional market foods and treats, as well as handicrafts and souvenirs. There are also heated café tents where you can comfortably have a steaming hot coffee even on the coldest days in winter. The Helsinki Baltic Herring Market, one of the oldest ongoing event traditions in Finland, is arranged here every October. It has been held since 1743. There’s a ferry connection to Suomenlinna Fortress island from the Market Square year round, and in summer it is possible to catch eg. a ferry to Korkeasaari Zoo, hop on one of the archipelago sightseeing cruises or take a boat trip to Porvoo.The Stone of the Empress’, in the middle of the Market Square, is the oldest public memorial in Helsinki. It was erected to commemorate the Empress Alexandra’s (the German-born wife of Nicholas I), first visit to Helsinki.

Suomenlinna sea fortress

Suomenlinna sea fortress is a Unesco World Heritage Site located on the coast of Helsinki, and also a suburb of Helsinki with around 800 residents. The fortress was shaped by three historic eras when it helped to defend first Sweden, then Russia and ultimately Finland. There are six kilometres of walls, 100 cannons, exciting tunnels, and beautiful parks. There are also museums, guided tours, events and restaurants in Suomenlinna. The fortress is easily accessed all year by public transport (HSL) ferry from the Market Square (daily) or the HSL maintenance ferry from Katajanokka (on weekdays). The travelling time is approx. 15minutes.

Helsinki Cathedral

The white cathedral that overlooks Helsinki has become a symbol of the nation’s capital and one of the two national shrines together with Turku Cathedral that is used for special occasions by the state and university. Helsinki Cathedral was designed by Carl Ludvig Engel and completed in 1839. Helsinki Cathedral was built in the neoclassical style and its plan is a Greek cross with four equilateral arms. The dome reaches a height of 62 metres and it is surrounded by four smaller domes and zinc statues of the Twelve Apostles at the apexes and corners of the roofline. The white interior of the cathedral is very minimalistic. The altarpiece was painted by Timofej Adrejevits Neff from St. Petersburg. The cathedral is used for state and university ceremonies. The steps leading up to the cathedral are used as both a stage and seating for events held in Senate Square. Helsinki Cathedral and Senate Square are among the most recognisable sights in Helsinki.

Uspenski Cathedral

Approaching Helsinki from the sea, the skyline is dominated by the white Lutheran Helsinki Cathedral and the redbrick Uspenski Cathedral, the largest Orthodox cathedral in Western Europe. It was designed by Aleksei Gornostajev. Constructed in 1868 on a massive granite rock at the start of the Katajanokka peninsula, Uspenski Cathedral features elements of old Russian wooden churches, as well as later Byzantine and Russian medieval cathedrals. The interior is spacious, and the roof is supported by four massive pillars carved out of a single granite block. The ceiling is adorned by a painting of the night sky. Nearly all the interior surfaces, vaulting and base of the domes are covered by Byzantine ornaments and icons. There is an iconostasis at the front of the cathedral and an altar at the rear.

Oodi – Helsinki’s new Central Library

Oodi is Helsinki’s new Central Library and a living meeting place in the city centre on the Kansalaistori Square. Oodi is a venue for events, a house of reading and a diverse urban experience. It will provide its users with knowledge, new skills and stories, and will be an easy place to access for learning, story immersion, work and relaxation. Oodi is a library of a new era, a living and functional meeting place open for all.

Temppeliaukio church

Excavated directly into solid rock, the Temppeliaukio church is situated in the heart of Helsinki, at the end of Fredrikinkatu. Because of its special architecture, the church, completed in 1969, is one of the main attractions in Helsinki. The church hall is covered with a dome, lined with copper and supported on the rock walls by reinforced concrete beams. The interior walls are of rugged rock and rubble wall. Before noon, the light spreads from the row of windows surrounding the roof periphery to the altar wall, where an ice-age crevice serves as the altarpiece. Due to its excellent acoustics the church is a popular venue for concerts.