Temppeliaukio – or “The Rock Church”


Temppeliaukio (otherwise known to non-locals as the rock church) is conveniently located in the very heart of Helsinki, in a district called Töölö. The rock church attracts roughly half a million people each year, and is incredibly famous for its unique design. It is in fact often one of the first things that people want to see when they come to Helsinki!

The Rock church was a ground breaking project designed by two brothers – Timo and Tuomo Suomalainen, locally known as the Suomalainen brothers. In 1906, the area of southern Töölö underwent the initial stages of planning, and a location for what was to be a church for the area, was reserved. However, the church was not built until the year 1969 – over 60 years later. It took a total of three competitions to create an architectural design that satisfied the parish council. But even after the design of the church was accepted, the project still faced a lot of criticism – caused by a difficult situation in the world, particularly the African unrest. Some locals tended to promote the opinion that the Töölö district already had enough churches, and the money required for its construction could be better used somewhere else.

The unrest in Africa related mainly to an unrecognized republic called Biafra. It caused many Finnish students to turn against the Rock church project. They claimed that the money should be spent on the needs of the suffering people in Biafra. On a summer night in 1968, a group of students decided to openly express their opinion, and wrote the word ‘Biafra’ on the exterior walls of the church, in graffiti. Some people believe that it was the first graffiti that was recorded in Finland.


Nevertheless, all the uprising challenges of the Rock Church were overcome, and the project was eventually completed in 1969. To satisfy partially those who were against the building of the church, the project was built on a smaller scale than was originally designed, and all of the budget that was originally planned was not used.

The main unique feature of the church is that it is excavated directly into a rock, and the experience of entering the church is literally that of going into a cave.  These untouched rock surfaces inside are multi-purpose; they not only give a natural look and feel to the church in a very unusual way, but they also create incredible sound acoustics. For this exact reason, the Rock church today often serves as a music venue, and if you’re lucky, you can even hear an organ recital on certain days!

The address for the Rock Church is Lutherinkatu 3. By taking tram number 2 from the central railway station, you can arrive at the rock church in only 15 minutes. Alternatively you can walk there in around 20 minutes.

Whilst you are already in the beautiful Töölö district, nearby is the famous Sibelius monument – another place high on the list of places to see in Helsinki – a monument honoring a man who is closely in the hearts of the Finnish people. If you would like to try coffee and cake in one of the most traditional cafes in Helsinki (with arguably one of the best views!) you can also visit the famous cafe Regatta.

Enjoy your sightseeing of the Töölö district!

Helsinki Guru ^^



Are you coming to Helsinki and wondering what would be a nice souvenir to take back home? We can give you some great advice!

In Finland we have one iconic company which gained a very special place in the hearts of the Finnish people. This company is Iittala- an innovative brand which changed the way people dine in Finland. Nowadays the company is a part of the Fiscars corporation. However, Iittala also has its own exciting and 136 year long history.

Iittala was founded in 1881 in a village with the same name. It was one of the first companies to move from decorative dinner sets to the ones which were more functional and aesthetical. Iittala products have always been famous for their forward- looking Scandinavian design.

The main idea that has been promoted by Iittala has been to offer aesthetically and functionally durable products that make day-to-day life enjoyable. The values of the company have stayed the same though its 136 year history. Today Iittala still offers designs that last a lifetime. Iittala offers products that were created by the best Finnish designers. These include such names as Alvar and Aino Aalto, Tapio Wirkkala, Oiva Toikka and Klaus Haapaniemi amongst others.

When visiting Iittalas’ stores you can get to know some of its most iconic collections.

Lets take for example the extraordinary Taika collection – by Klaus Haapaniemi.


Taika translates into English as ‘magic’.  The collection was designed by Klaus Haapaniemi, a London-based Finnish designer who became famous due to his unusual and modern approach. In an interview,  Klaus Haapaniemi mentions a lot that his inspiration is coming from the Finnish nature and folklore. When looking at his works, you can clearly see that he is truly able to bring back traditional arts to live by adding some modern twist to them. Today, 47 year old Klaus Haapaniemi is still designing.

In Finland, it can also be common to use depictions of animals whilst creating design. One good example of a well represented animal in Haapaniemi’s Taika range, is the Fox. Foxes are an intriguing motif which connects directly to the Finnish mythology. Foxes are often portrayed in fairytales as cunning characters. In Finland, people believe that they are also directly related to the phenomenon of the northern lights. In Finnish Northern Lights are called ‘revontulet’ or ‘foxfires’ (if we directly translate into English). Finnish people believe that it is the foxes that lighten up the sky by running through the fields and swishing their tails.

Ultima Thule Collection by Tapio Wirkkala (1915-1985)


The Ultima Thule collection was designed to recreate the melting ice in Lapland. The collection was designed by one of the most well-known Finnish Designers – Tapio Wirkkala. Wirkkala has sometimes been described as ‘a great Finnish bear’ and a nature lover. It was the nature that he derived his inspiration from.  He had a unique ability to contemplate nature for hours and hours – before creating designs that would catch these simple nature movements. There are almost no materials that Wirkkala has not worked with. But amongst them all, glass was his biggest passion.


Countless hours were spent to create the technique that would achieve the effects that Wirkkala wanted to give to his Ultima Thule collection. Originally, the collection was made for Finnair business class passengers on the flights to America. However, Ultima Thule became one of the real Finnish classics very soon afterwards.

Toikka Birds by Oiva Toikka (Born 1931 – current)


The Toikka birds are a revolutionary work of art by Oiva Toikka. The artist himself explains that he has never wanted to be revolutionary but he has just been doing what feels right. He likes to work directly in collaboration with glassblowers instead of first drawing his works on paper. Toikka says that he does not rely on sketches but instead he gets inspired by the glass blowing process itself. All the Toikka birds have their own characters and personalities. There are no birds that would be identical to each other, as Oiva Toikka himself believes that imperfections make his birds unique. When you visit any of the Iittala stores, you will find prominent displays full of original Toikka’s creations. Take your time to pick up the bird that matches your personality the best!


Of course, there are many other collections that you would definitely enjoy looking through or purchasing as a present to take back!

For those of you who are also interested in pottery why not check out this blog post – Arabia.

Enjoy your shopping!

Helsinki Guru ^^