Religious Buildings Tour of Helsinki, Part 1, Helsinki (Self Guided)

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 tour to see the most interesting religious buildings in the city.
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Religious Buildings Tour of Helsinki, Part 1 Map

Guide Name: Religious Buildings Tour of Helsinki, Part 1
Guide Location: Finland » Helsinki (See other walking tours in Helsinki)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 7
Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.3 km
Author: naomi
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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 Carl Engel, who also designed 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. The services are also held in Slavic and Finnish. Plan on stopping and seeing this wonderful cathedral.
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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 Carl Ludvig Engel to form the pinnacle of Senate Square, which was 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.

Tip:
Plenty of steps to get to the cathedral's main entrance (no handrails, so be prepared) but there are fewer steps around the side (there are also some accessibility/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 str. or via elevator from the cathedral. Friendly staff, delicious pastries, cheap prices.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 9am-6pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
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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 famous 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 overall complex also. 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 have 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 still appreciate the icons.

Tip:
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 sunny rocks right in front of the church are popular to sit on together with friends enjoying the view. Just watch out – they are steep!

Opening Hours:
Tue-Fri: 9:30am-4pm; Sat-Sun: 12-3pm
Free admission
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German Church

4) German Church

The German Church is located at Bernhardinkatu 4 and is an important part of the community. This beautiful old church was built in 1864 and its Neo-Gothic style is a favorite of brides 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 11am and the services are in German. Services are also held on occasion at 11 pm as well as special activities around church holy days, so be sure to check the schedule when visiting.
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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 Eero Järnefelt, brother-in-law to Jean Sibelius. Johannes (John) 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 composer Oskar Merikanto was an organist here for a time.
Sight description based on wikipedia
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St. Henry's Cathedral

6) St. Henry's Cathedral

This Roman Catholic Church is the official Cathedral of Helsinki for that faith tradition. It was dedicated to Bishop Henry of Uppsala, who was very famous in the country. Henry was believed to have helped King Eric conquer the country. He also died as a martyr. The building was finished in 1860, and took three years to complete.

The overall architectural style of Gothic Revival was used to design the building. It was given that name for the way in which old Gothic styles have been used alongside neoclassical elements. There are also some beautiful sculptures here of the old bishop, as well as Saint Peter and Saint Paul. You will find these adorning the exterior of the building.

Interestingly enough, there are very few natives of Finland who use this facility for worship. That is because most of the population is Lutheran. It was built primarily for foreigners who come to Helsinki. In an effort, though, to serve the area well, it offers mass in many languages.
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Mikael Agricola Church

7) Mikael Agricola Church

The Mikael Agricola Church was named after a very famous person in the religious history of the country. He was the founder of written Finnish also, but his main fame was as one of the first Reformers in the country.

The church was finished in 1935. The architect was Lars Sonck He also built the famous Kallio Church of Helsinki. The building was designed to be a mix between neoclassical and art nouveau styles of architecture. It is not the oldest such church in town to use these styles, but it is certainly one of the most unique.

The most striking thing about the exterior is the spire that was built on the structure. It can span to 30 meters into the air at full length, or anything in between, because it was made to be retractable. This sets on top of the whole 106 meter high tower. Winds can get very high in Helsinki, so the idea was to be able to help protect the structure.

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Tour of Helsinki's Ullanlinna District

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Religious Buildings Tour of Helsinki, Part 2

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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)
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Whether you are in Helsinki for a quick stopover or have a few days to see the city in more detail, exploring it on foot, at your own pace, is definitely the way to go. Here are some tips for you to save money, see the best Helsinki has to offer, take good care of your feet while walking, and keep your mobile device – your ultimate "work horse" on this trip - well fed and safe.

Taking Care of Your Feet


To ensure ultimate satisfaction from a day of walking around the city as big as Helsinki, it is imperative to take good care of your feet so as to avoid unpleasant things like blisters, cold or overheated soles, itchy, irritated or otherwise damaged (cracked) skin, etc. Luckily, these days there is no shortage of remedies to address (and, ideally, to prevent) these and other potential problems with feet. Among them: Compression Socks, Rechargeable Battery-Powered Thermo Socks for Cold Weather, Foot Repair Cream, Deodorant Powder, Shoes UV Sterilizer, and many more that you may wish to find a place in your travel kit for.

Travel Gadgets for Your Mobile Device


Your mobile phone or tablet will be your work horse on a self-guided walk. They offer tour map, guide you from one attraction to another, and provide informative background for the sights you wish to visit. Therefore it is absolutely essential to plan against unexpected power outages in the wrong place at the wrong time, much as to ensure the safety of your device.

For these and other contingencies, here's the list of useful appliances: Portable Charger/External Battery Pack, Worldwide Travel Charger Adapter, Power Converter for International Travel Adapter, and Mobile Device Leash.