Helsinki's Historical Churches, Helsinki

Helsinki's Historical Churches (Self Guided), Helsinki

Helsinki features many impressive places of worship where you can enjoy a peaceful moment and admire the beauty of the religious buildings. Helsinki has two main religious denominations: Lutheran and Orthodox, but there are also some beautiful Anglican and German churches. Take this self-guided walking tour to see the most interesting religious buildings in the city.
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Helsinki's Historical Churches Map

Guide Name: Helsinki's Historical Churches
Guide Location: Finland » Helsinki (See other walking tours in Helsinki)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 6
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.0 Km or 1.9 Miles
Author: naomi
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Holy Trinity Church
  • Helsinki Cathedral
  • Uspenski Cathedral
  • German Church
  • St. John's Church
  • Helsinki Old Church
Holy Trinity Church

1) Holy Trinity Church

The Holy Trinity church holds the distinction of being the oldest Orthodox Church in the city of Helsinki. It is located in the Kruununkaka District of town, on the corner of Unioninkatu and Rauhankatu Streets. It is also one of the bigger tourist draws among churches in town. It also happens to be located next to the Helsinki Cathedral.

It was constructed in 1826. The architect was the German architect Carl Engel, who also designed Helsinki Cathedral and some other churches in the area. It was built in a neoclassical style of architecture. The church’s beautiful yellow exterior, which is trimmed in white, is quite lovely. This helps to accentuate the bell tower, and give it a very clean look.

It is the inside of the church that is the best part though. You will be amazed at the gold and silver in setting for the furniture, trimming, pictures, icons etc. This is set against the scarlet colored flooring and pristine white ceilings.

Services are held here each Sunday in Slavic and Finnish.
Helsinki Cathedral

2) Helsinki Cathedral (must see)

Helsinki Cathedral is an Evangelical Lutheran cathedral of the Diocese of Helsinki that was originally built from 1830-1852 as a tribute to the Grand Duke of Finland, Tsar Nicholas I of Russia. It was also known as St Nicholas' Church until the independence of Finland in 1917.

A distinctive landmark in the Helsinki cityscape, with its tall, green dome surrounded by four smaller domes, the building is in the neoclassical style. It was designed by the German architect Carl Ludvig Engel to form the pinnacle of Senate Square, which was also laid out by Engel.

Today, the cathedral is one of Helsinki's most popular tourist attractions. More than 350,000 people visit the church each year, some to attend religious events, but most to enjoy the beauty of the place. The church is in regular use for services of worship and special events such as weddings.


- Plenty of steps to get to the cathedral's main entrance (no handrails, so be prepared). There are some wheelchair ramps if needed.

- Also worth a visit is an atypical café right under the cathedral (Cafe Krypta). Entrance is at the back on Kirkkokatu street or via elevator from the cathedral. Friendly staff, delicious pastries, and inexpensive coffee.

Opening Hours: Daily: 9:00-18:00
Uspenski Cathedral

3) Uspenski Cathedral (must see)

Part of the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Upenski Cathedral is the official seat of the bishop of Helsinki for that faith tradition. It is dedicated to the Dormition of Theotokos (The Bearer of God, or Mary). In fact, the name of the church itself is derived from the old Slavic word for Dormition.

The building was finished in 1868 and took a total of six years to complete. The well known Russian architect Alexey Gomostaev designed the structure. Sadly, it was not completed in his lifetime.

There is a crypt chapel that is built into the building complex. It was named after one of the old Vicars of the church, Alexander Hotovitzky. He served the local parish in the early 1900s.

There are several very beautiful icons on display in this cathedral. They also happen to be quite valuable as art antiquities. In fact, two of them had been stolen from the church in the last several years, with only one having been (remarkably) recovered. Consequently, glass protection covers had to be added, but this will not ruin your chance to appreciate the icons.

- The climb up involves quite a number of stairs. Go up there at sunset. You'll get stunning photos of the cityscape with the sun setting just behind the Lutheran Cathedral.
- The rocks right in front of the church are popular place to sit on together with friends enjoying the view. Just watch out – they are steep!

Opening Hours:
Tue-Fri: 9:30-16:00; Sat-Sun: 12:00-15:00
Free admission
German Church

4) German Church

The German Church is an important part of the community. This beautiful old church was built in 1864 and its Neo-Gothic style is a favorite of newly weds in Finland. One look at this picturesque venue makes it easy to see why it is so popular.

The Front entrance to the church is breathtakingly beautiful. The brick work is amazing and the door is framed by six large gothic windows in the transept. There is a large spire that was added in 1897 which just adds to the majesty of the building. The entire building underwent a massive refurbishing in 2001, and the results are wonderful.

For such a large exterior, the sanctuary is amazingly intimate. The muted color scheme aids in this illusion. The altar is exquisitely carved with great detail and so elegantly frames a painting of Christ at the Crucifixion. The pews are very simple so they do not distract from the elegance of the altar.

Services are held here on Sunday mornings at 11:00 and the services are in German. Services are also held on occasion at 23:00 as well as special activities around church holy days, so be sure to check the schedule when visiting.
St. John's Church

5) St. John's Church

St. John's Church is a Lutheran church designed by the Swedish architect Adolf Melander in the Gothic Revival style. It is the largest stone church in Finland judging by seating capacity. Situated in the Ullanlinna district of Helsinki, the church was built between 1888 and 1893. It was the third Lutheran church in Helsinki, and it remains the largest.

The church's twin towers are 74 meters tall, and the church seats 2,600 people. It has excellent acoustics and is therefore used for big concerts and events, as well as services. The altarpiece depicts Saul's conversion, and the painting 'A Divine Revelation' is by the Finnish painter Eero Järnefelt who is best known for his portraits and landscapes of the area around Koli National Park.

St. John's Church stands on a hill that for many centuries had been a place for Midsummer bonfires (Midsummer is now also called "John's Day"). The well known Finnish musician and composer Oskar Merikanto was an organist here for a time.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Helsinki Old Church

6) Helsinki Old Church

The Old Church has been an integral part of the Helsinki area since 1727. It started in a temporary building that was named the Ulrika Eleonora Church. The local congregation finally outgrew this location, so it became necessary to build a new structure. That building was started in 1826 and was finally completed in 1852.

It is mainly a wooden church built in a neoclassical style of architecture. Some of the material from the original structure was also re-used in this current building. The benches, lighting and the church organ were removed and reset in the current home of the faithful. Over the years, though, the pipe organ was replaced by a 36 stop model in 1869.

The altarpiece is quite beautiful. It is one of the prettiest pieces of religious art to be found in the city. It was done by the Finnish painter Robert Ekman who is best known for his romantic portraits. It was originally intended for the Helsinki Cathedral, but ended up here instead.

The church is located inside a local park that is maintained by the city. Unsurprisingly, the park is called the Old Church Park. It is also referred to by the locals as Plague Park because over a thousand people died of the plague in 1710 are buried right next to the place.

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