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Cultural Tour of Helsinki (Self Guided), Helsinki

As the capital, Helsinki is the cultural center of Finland. The city is famous for its concerts and shows. It is also home to some internationally-known artists. There are three major theaters in the city and a couple of cultural centers. Take this tour to find out more about Finnish culture.
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Cultural Tour of Helsinki Map

Guide Name: Cultural Tour of Helsinki
Guide Location: Finland » Helsinki (See other walking tours in Helsinki)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 9
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.9 Km or 3 Miles
Author: naomi
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Aleksanterin Teatteri
  • Tennispalatsi
  • Tavastia Club
  • Swedish Theatre
  • Finnish National Theatre
  • Lasipalatsi
  • Amos Anderson Art Museum
  • Finlandia Hall
  • Finnish National Opera
Aleksanterin Teatteri

1) Aleksanterin Teatteri

The Alexandrian Theatre is a premiere institution that is named after Czar Alexander II of Russia. It is located in the Heitalahti Square in Helsinki. It was built to be the first theatre for the Russian people of Finland. Sinebrychoff Park is located nearby.

It was organized in 1875 by Count Nikolay Adlerberg, who got permission to construct the local theatre from Alexander II. The overall architecture of the building was done so that it would mimic the Marinsky Theatre of St. Petersburg, Russia. It opened to the public in 1880.

In more recent times, the building has been used to host stage productions from a variety of international dance and theatre groups. It also is home to the business center for the Cultural Office. The Sibelius Academy has an opera studio here, and the National Opera hosts a school of ballet from these walls as well.

This location is a mainstay for cultural life in Helsinki, and is a must see. There is always something going on. The main halls can seat 500 people. Catered affairs are also held here. The facility is open to the public Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. The building is also open on the weekends from noon until 7:00 p.m.

2) Tennispalatsi

Tennispalatsi is a cultural and recreational center in the Kamppi district. It houses a Finnkino movie theater, the Art Museum Tennis Palace, the Museum of Cultures, and small shops. Tennispalatsi was built in 1938 in preparation for the 1940 Summer Olympics. The functionalist building, which had four tennis courts, was designed by Helge Lundström. In the 1952 Summer Olympics the basketball preliminary games were held in Tennispalatsi. Finnkino has a 14-theater multiplex in Tennispalatsi. Tennispalatsi is one of the two big Finnkino movie theater multiplexes in Helsinki, along with Kinopalatsi. According to Finnkino, it was the world's first movie theater to utilize THX and SDDS in all auditoriums.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Tavastia Club

3) Tavastia Club

The Tavastia Club is a popular rock music club in Helsinki. The club was built in 1931. From early on, it was actively rented for entertainment purposes, including plays and dances. By the 1980s the club had achieved a legendary status in the Finnish rock music scene. The 1990s saw a number of popular new domestic acts rise to fame from the stages of the club. These include Don Huonot, Kingston Wall and The 69 Eyes. In 1994 a "little brother" club named Semifinal was opened in the basement of Tavastia to serve and as venue for "rising star" bands and other smaller acts. For example, HIM first played at Tavastia's Semifinal club when Ville Valo, the lead-singer to be, was still playing bass. Valo is said to have told Tavastia's manager Juhani Merimaa that he would one day play a sold-out gig in the upstairs club – a promise that he did indeed keep.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Swedish Theatre

4) Swedish Theatre

This Swedish Theatre was the first such national stage for the country. It was started in 1827, and the first home of the company was completed in the same year. It is located at the Erottaja Square, which is at the end of Esplanadi Street. Unlike the National Theatre, this local company specializes in Swedish language performances.

The group quickly outgrew its location, as the popularity of the place grew. A new location was started in 1860. It was built on the current site of the Svenska Teatern. The early acting group was captained by Pierre Deland. Soon though, the Finnish language was used in performances. A new national company was formed in the early 20th Century, which goes on today. The group does performances in both languages. The building was majorly renovated in the 1930s. So now, you have a location with an 1800s style interior and a more modern exterior.

This institution is one of six such entities which in Finland that are designed to due performances in Swedish. Performances are done in Finnish and Swedish though, as both languages are formerly taught by the local schools to all children. This has created a situation where the theatre is patronized by a group of around 220,000 bi-lingual patrons.
Finnish National Theatre

5) Finnish National Theatre (must see)

The National Theatre has been an integral part of Finnish national culture since the 1800s. It got its start in 1872 in Pori. Today, it is located in the north-central section of Helsinki, near the Central Railway Station. It is the oldest known theater of its kind that does performances in Finnish. Up until the year 1902, it was simply called the Finnish Theater.

The current building was completed in 1902 and was done in a Romantic architecture style. At this point in history, the whole country was undergoing a cultural movement which came to be known as Romantic Nationalism, as the people sought to preserve their cultural identity against outside pressure.

Just outside the front entrance is a statue of the famous Aleksis Kivi, who is known for his Romantic novels and short stories. Along with the theater, the arts were used as a way to try to stand up to the oppression of the Russian Empire of the day.

Today the theater travels to many foreign locations but has not lost its central purpose of maintaining the drama of Finland. So, you can see their kind of avant-garde style of international drama set alongside productions that are designed to continue Finnish language performances. Go if you get the chance and take in a performance.

Why You Should Visit:
Very architecturally pleasing, photogenic, and the smaller stage productions bring the magic.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Sat: 9am-7pm

6) Lasipalatsi

Lasipalatsi is a functionalist office building designed in the 1930s, which is located on Mannerheimintie in the Kamppi district of Helsinki. Lasipalatsi, which houses offices, restaurants and a movie theater, was originally designed as a temporary building, later to be torn down to make room for a larger office building. After decades of deterioration, Lasipalatsi was granted protected status and renovated into a cultural and media center in 1998. A number of cafes and media corporations moved into the building. The building also hosts Internet services and exhibition halls. The movie theater Bio Rex specializes in showing non-mainstream cultural films. At the time of its opening, Bio Rex was one of the biggest movie theaters in the city, and many formal premieres of Finnish films were shown here.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Amos Anderson Art Museum

7) Amos Anderson Art Museum

In the heart of central Helsinki lies the Amos Anderson Art Museum. This institution houses one of the single largest art collections in the entire country. It was started by the famous Finnish politician and entrepreneur Amos Anderson. Amos was a long time patron of the arts. He owned several publishing firms in the country, including the Hufvudstadsbladet (a Swedish language daily newspaper.)

The building is actually the old home of Anderson. It was built in 1913. For many years, the building was also the business offices and headquarters for his companies. After his death, the home became a museum. The first floor was used to bring in special exhibits from around the world, while the upper floors held his private art collection.

In today’s times, the museum specializes in modern Finnish art, namely from the 20th and 21st Centuries. You can now see over 7000 exhibits here. The works of such famous Finnish artists as Magnus Enckell and Felix Nylund can be found here. You can also see the works of Carlstedt, Finch, and Salokivi, to name a few more.

Operation hours: Monday, Friday: 11 am – 6 pm; Wednesday: 11 am – 8 pm; Saturday – Sunday: 11 am – 5 pm.
Finlandia Hall

8) Finlandia Hall (must see)

Located in central Helsinki, Finlandia Hall is the proverbial Las Vegas Show Center of Finland as it is host to many of the finest conferences, concerts and art exhibits you will find anywhere in town. If you plan on coming to Helsinki, you will want to get a list of what is happening there right away. Thousands of people visit it each year. The largest hall can seat 1700 people.

Designed to be similar to the concert hall in Essen, the building is an architectural thing of beauty. Asymmetry is prominently featured not only for beauty but for the acoustics. The marble used in the floors is also quite striking against the cobalt blue walls. The exterior is done in curved slabs of marble.

The interior design of the building is a tribute to detail. The design of each lamp, piece of furniture, panel, flooring material and decorative board reflects the mature approach resulting from Alvar Aalto’s long career as an architect. All the materials speak the language of nature, simply without technically artificial tones. This is because Aalto’s basic view was that architecture should create a frame for human beings. In the Finlandia Hall, the focus is not on extraordinary forms or ostentatious interior, but on the audience and on the performers. According to Aalto, the audience at the Finlandia Hall need not dress up like people used to in the opera foyers and gilded concert halls of the old days. What people wear should be as genuine and natural as the environment in the building.

Why You Should Visit:
The architecture is fantastic, the location by the lake is superb, and the café downstairs – Veranda – is worth a visit.
Inside, the space is not really set up for self-guided tourists to enjoy, but there are guided tours during the week.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Fri: 9am-7pm
Finnish National Opera

9) Finnish National Opera (must see)

The Finnish National Opera represents the summa of all such companies of singers in the country. It makes its home base the Töölönlahti Bay Opera House in Helsinki, so you may want to get a chance to visit this famous group while in town. The theater section has over 1350 seats for main events, though they also use a 500-seat auditorium for presenting smaller performances. Chances are you will be able to catch a show.

Ongoing performances were first performed here in 1873, with the starting of the opera under the direction of Kaarlo Bergbom. Sadly, the first group closed from financial difficulties in 1879, leaving a bit of a gap. It had performed over 430 times in that period. Thirty years later, the National Opera proper got its start. It was funded by many local dignitaries and cultural well to do’s. The group had some ups and downs over the years but survived. In 1956, the group was formally organized into the Finnish National Opera.

In today’s times, the group has some 30 permanently engaged solo singers, a professional choir of 60 singers and its own orchestra of 120 members. The Ballet has 90 dancers from 17 countries. Altogether, the opera has a staff of 735.

Why You Should Visit:
Although the building's exterior, executed in a Northern Modernist style, is not so thrilling, it is the interior which is very tasteful.
The location by Töölö bay is perfect. The view from the foyer is beautiful. The atmosphere prior to and during the intermissions is stylish.

It is recommended to reserve a table in advance if you like to have something refreshing during the intermission and enjoy the view. Tables are usually fully booked in advance.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Fri: 12-7pm; Sat: 12-6pm

Walking Tours in Helsinki, Finland

Create Your Own Walk in Helsinki

Create Your Own Walk in Helsinki

Creating your own self-guided walk in Helsinki is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Tour of Helsinki's Ullanlinna District

Tour of Helsinki's Ullanlinna District

Ullanlinna is a district in the south part of Helsinki. The name of the district comes from the town fortifications that were standing in this place during the 1700s. During the 19th century the residential wooden houses were replaced by stone buildings, mainly designed in the Jugendstil style. This tour will show you the most interesting places of this area.

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.0 Km or 1.2 Miles
Famous Museums Tour of Helsinki

Famous Museums Tour of Helsinki

Helsinki is the cultural capital of Finland. The city hosts some of the most famous museums in Europe, including the Ateneum, Kiasma, and the National Museum of Finland. This tour of Helsinki museums will help you learn more about Finnish culture and history.

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.4 Km or 2.1 Miles
Religious Buildings Tour of Helsinki, Part 2

Religious Buildings Tour of Helsinki, Part 2

As the capital of Finland, Helsinki has a wide variety of churches to support the relatively large population. The majority of churches in Helsinki are Lutheran or Orthodox, but there are also Catholic and Jewish congregations, as well as smaller religious communities. With the help of this guide you will visit some of the most beautiful and interesting religious buildings of Helsinki.

Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 7.1 Km or 4.4 Miles
Souvenir Shopping

Souvenir Shopping

It would be a pity to leave Helsinki without having explored its specialty shops and bringing home something truly original. We've compiled a list of gifts and souvenirs, which are unique to Helsinki, that a visitor might like to purchase to reflect their visit.

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.7 Km or 2.3 Miles
Architecture Tour of Helsinki

Architecture Tour of Helsinki

There are many examples of great architecture in Helsinki. The predominant styles are Art Nouveau (Jugend in Finnish) and Neo-Clasical. Much of the city's architecture has social and cultural significance, particularly buildings such as the Academic Bookshop, Finlandia Hall, Helsinki Central Railway Station and Erottaja Fire Station. This tour presents some of the most beautiful buildings of...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.6 Km or 1.6 Miles
Nightlife Tour of Helsinki

Nightlife Tour of Helsinki

Most of Helsinki's nightlife is concentrated in the center of the city around the main train station. Almost all the establishments are a mix of bar, disco and concert venue. Finnish people are great lovers of live performances. No matter what band or artist is playing, they always enjoy the show. So, take this tour to experience the vibrant nightlife of Helsinki.

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.6 Km or 2.2 Miles

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