Helsinki Cathedral


Helsinki Cathedral is perhaps one of the most iconic buildings in Helsinki center. Built in a prominent place in the very heart of Helsinki, it reminds us of the wealth and glory of the Russian empire. Surrounding Helsinki Cathedral is the Senate square – an area entirely different to anywhere else in Helsinki – it was built by the Russians from the 1800’s, and modeled to look like St Petersburg in Russia. If you have ever been there (or if you go) you will see how similar the two are!

Originally, Helsinki Cathedral was built in 1852 as a tribute to the Grand Duke of Finland, Tsar Nicholas I of Russia. It also used to have a different name. At the time It was called the Saint Nicolas Church.

For a long time, Finland has been a Lutheran country. Being heavily influenced by the Swedish kingdom, the Finnish people were turned from paganism (believing in several gods) into Christianity, and then later on into Lutheranism. Lutheranism has its origins from Germany, and it was introduced to the Finns by Sweden – when Finland was under the Swedish rule. Nowadays, Lutheranism is the predominant religion that the majority of Finnish people still consider themselves as being.

Helsinki Cathedral is also a great example of the freedom that was granted to the Finns by the Russians,particularly during the first half of the 19th century. Helsinki cathedral was built as a Lutheran church from the very beginning. The Russian Tsar at the time wanted to show that he will ensure that various freedoms of the Finnish people were respected – for the first time he allowed the Finnish language to become the official language of Finland (under the Swedish rule, only the Swedish language was the language of governance). He also allowed the introduction of the first official Finnish currency – the Finnish Markka. The cathedral was a part of another freedom – religious freedom; and this was a huge statement from Russia – that they wanted to give the Finns freedom and autonomy. In fact, the Finns had never been forced to turn to a Russian Orthodox religion when they were a part of the Russian empire, and all these freedoms (for a time at least), caused many Finns to respect the Russian Empire.

The cathedral itself was a grand  project of two famous architects – the first was Carl Ludwig Engel and the second was Ernst Lornmann. The original design of the cathedral was made by Engel. His love for neoclassical style found inspiration for Helsinki, in Saint Isaac’s Cathedral – located in Saint Petersburg.



The cathedral is a unique piece of architecture and it has some very unusual features. The layout of the church is designed like a Greek cross – it has 4 areas inside that can all be used. The second unusual feature is that Helsinki cathedral does not have any bells inside. The dome on the Helsinki cathedral was not designed to be strong enough to bear the weights of the bell. As a result, the bells had to be relocated into the building adjacent to the cathedral. In-fact, to this day, this building is the bell tower.  You can find the bell tower in a white building to the left of the Helsinki cathedral (when you face it from the senate square). Helsinki cathedral also has 12 zinc statues on top of its roof. These 12 statues are larger than life, and there are representing the 12 apostles.

In addition to that, the cathedral has a very unusual crypt that has never served its purpose. In old days, the crypt used to be a cellar where wood storage was located. Nowadays, you can have a buffet lunch there or enjoy an organ concert. The cafe Krypta  is open only during the summer months: from June until August, and is definitely worth a look.  

Today Helsinki Cathedral is the most popular tourist attraction with more than 350 000 visits each year.

If you are an architecture lover, check out this place – the Rock Church 

Enjoy the Neoclassical beauty of the Helsinki Cathedral!

Helsinki Guru ^^

FREE in Helsinki

Are you coming to visit Helsinki and afraid that everything is expensive here? No need to worry. In this blog post you will find out all the things you can do for FREE or almost free in Helsinki.

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  • My personal favorite in Helsinki is Suomenlinna.

Suomenlinna is a beautiful sea fortress that was founded by the Swedish monarchy in the 18th century. The purpose of the fortress was to protect the city of Helsinki from sea invasions. As Saint Petersburg was founded in 1703, Russia posed a great risk to the Swedish kingdom. As Finland was a part of Sweden at the time, it used to suffer the most from the Russo-Swedish wars. Nowadays, Suomenlinna is a peaceful, picturesque place full of charm. It is also a real district of Helsinki with the population of just under 1000 people. In order to get there you need to take a boat from the market square. The boat is a part of the public transportation in Helsinki region, which means you can use a daily pas to go there. If you need to buy a ticket, you can buy a Suomenlinna ticket for 5 euros. The ticket is valid for 12 hours which gives you plenty of time to explore the islands.There are no entrance fees to get to the island. All you need to do is to have a public transport ticket!

  • National Library of Finland

National Library of Finland is a part of the University of Helsinki. It is also known as Helsinki University Library. The neoclassical yellow building is located in front of the main entrance to the Helsinki Cathedral. Its exact address is Unioninkatu 36. The interior design of the place is simply stunning! It is definitely something that is worth seeing while in Helsinki. The library has a large collection of books in various languages and and impressive 115 kilometres of shelf materials.  The library is open Monday to Friday 9am-20pm, Saturday 9am-4pm. The best thing is, it is completely FREE!


Three Cathedrals of Helsinki

One of the most iconic buildings in Helsinki is indeed the Helsinki Cathedral. Built in the year 1852, the cathedral still continues to inspire people by its beauty. Built in a simple neoclassical style, it merely stuns people by its simplicity. The cathedral also has a very unusual crypt that has never served its purpose. In old days, the crypt used to be a cellar where wood storage was located. Nowadays, you can have a buffet lunch there or enjoy an organ concert. Crypt is open only during the summer months: from June until August. The entrance to the cathedral as well as to the crypt is completely FREE of charge. The exact address is Unioninkatu 29.


  • Uspenski Cathedral or Russian Church

Uspenski Cathedral was built by a real Russian architect in 1868. It was during the times when Finland was called a Grand Duchy of Finland and when it used to be a part of the Russian empire. The Cathedral is the great cultural heritage and one of the main attractions in the city. The cathedral is famous for its miraculous icon of  the Theotokos of Kozeltshan. The icon was stolen from the cathedral  in 2011. However, one of the thieves felt really guilty for his did and he helped the police to rescue it. Today the miraculous icon is once again inside the cathedral. You will see it a big wooden frame surrounded by golden rings and necklaces. These were the donations by the thankful worshipers,   The address of the church is Kanavakatu 1.


The famous Rock Church is one of a kind place in Helsinki. It is located a bit outside of the city center. However, the short tram journey or a 15 minute walk will take you there from the central railway station. The church is famous for its unusual design. Being literally carved into the rock, it attracts thousands of visitors each year who come to admire its extraordinary design. Rock church is also a popular place for weddings as well as various concerts. Hence, sometimes it may not be open for visitors. There is a small 3-euro entrance fee. It is completely worth it though if you are a true beauty lover.

The exact address is Lutherinkatu 3.


There are also plenty of free museum in Helsinki that you might enjoy visiting. Read my next post to find out!

Enjoy your time in Helsinki!

Helsinki Guru ^^