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Religious Buildings Tour of Helsinki, Part 2 (Self Guided), Helsinki

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.
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Religious Buildings Tour of Helsinki, Part 2 Map

Guide Name: Religious Buildings Tour of Helsinki, Part 2
Guide Location: Finland » Helsinki (See other walking tours in Helsinki)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 8
Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 7.1 Km or 4.4 Miles
Author: naomi
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • The Old Church
  • Helsinki Synagogue
  • Hietaniemi Old Chapel
  • Temppeliaukio Rock Church
  • St. Nicholas Orthodox Church
  • Töölön Church
  • Kallio Church
  • Alppilan Church
The Old Church

1) The 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 that is built in a neoclassical style of architecture. Some of the material from the original structure was also reused 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 designed by Per Larsson Akermann 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 Robert Ekman. It was originally intended for the Helsinki Cathedral, but ended up here instead.

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

2) Helsinki Synagogue

The Helsinki Synagogue is a beautiful building used for the worship of local Orthodox Jewish Community. It is located in the Kampen District side of town. The local community has 1200 members. The synagogue is located on Malminkatu 26 Street in Helsinki, and as such, is a prominent part of the central area of town.

The building was designed by Jac Ahrenberg, who was from Viipuri. It was finished and open for worship in 1906. The architecture is beautiful, and has essentially remained intact for the entire life of the place.

There are weekly prayer times available Monday and Thursday at 7:45 a.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday the start time is 8:00 a.m., and you can also go to prayers on Sunday at 9:00 a.m. Shabbat morning prayers are at 9:00 a.m. Friday evening prayers are at 7:00 p.m. during the summer, and 5:00 p.m. during the winter months.
Hietaniemi Old Chapel

3) Hietaniemi Old Chapel

Hietaniemi Cemetery has two chapels. The Old Chapel is located near the intersection of Mechelininkadun and Rautatiekadun Streets. It was designed by the architect Theodor Höijer. The construction of the chapel ended in 1873. The Old Chapel is one of the most famous in the city. Although it seats just one hundred people, many more come to participate in church services.
Temppeliaukio Rock Church

4) Temppeliaukio Rock Church (must see)

The Temppeliaukio Church is one of the largest and most important Lutheran Churches in the city of Helsinki. Opened in 1969, it is actually a very young church. The local congregation had started plans for the building all the way back in the 1930s, but the issues faced by the nation in the Second World War caused them to be put on hold. The original design was also changed by the Suomalainen brothers, and the church ended up much smaller.

This house of worship has a beautiful sanctuary, which sports an organ with 43 stops. There are no bells in the church, so to get the same effect; a recording of bell music is played outside every Sunday. The coolest thing, however, is that the whole church was built underground, inside a massive block of granite.

The ceiling has a glazed dome, which allows a lot of very beautiful light into the building. The ceiling is also made completely of copper wire. The acoustics here are wonderful; therefore, the place is often used as a venue for concerts.

Why You Should Visit:
Helsinki's architectural wonder; the mix of concrete, granite, coupled with color and copper everywhere (including the roof) make for an inspiring view.

Try to see if there are any concerts and enjoy the great acoustics.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 10am-5pm
St. Nicholas Orthodox Church

5) St. Nicholas Orthodox Church

The St. Nicholas Church is a part of the Finnish Orthodox Church. It is one of two national churches in the country (the other being the Lutheran Church.) It stands autonomous of the Russian Orthodox Church, but has some historical connections.

The congregation was founded in 1927 and currently has 1300 members. The building was erected in the year 1938. It was designed by the famous architect A. Kudrjavtsev. Up until this period in history, there had been no local church of the Orthodox people of the area.

The church has a lot of beautiful artwork. You will especially want to note the beautiful icons that are part of the religious items used in sacred services. The wooden framework that trims the sanctuary is also very beautiful.

Services are done in Slavic and Russian, to accommodate the diverse members of the area. They also use the Old (Julian) calendar for calculation of the Holy Days. Liturgy is done every Sunday at 9:40 a.m.
Töölön Church

6) Töölön Church

Töölön Church is one of the most striking churches in town. It is often called the “Pearl of Helsinki.” It was constructed in 1930, and is done in a style called classicism. It was very popular during the 1920s, and was the artistic precursor to Functionalism. It was designed by the famous architect Hilding Ekelund. So, it really stands out as quite different from the churches throughout the Helsinki area that have been done in a Nationalistic Romantic style.

The basilica of the church is white, and has a very large belfry. It is quite pristine, which is quite in place for the town of Toolo. The artwork on the inside is quite simple, as you might expect from the way the overall building is designed. The lightness of the stone makes for a bright colored sanctuary also.

The local congregation has services in two languages: Finnish and Swedish. They hold a Finnish service at 10:00 a.m. every Sunday and Church holiday. A Swedish language service is held at 1:00 p.m. on the same days.
Kallio Church

7) Kallio Church

If you love visiting old churches, you must see Kallio Church. It is very unique in style and character. It was built in 1912 by the famous architect Lars Sonck. It sits atop a hill and provides a beautiful view of the city. The bell tower is also quite beautiful. In fact, the famous composer Jean Sibelius wrote a composition about the bells of Kallio.

Part of what makes this church different is that is broke with the idea of having to design the place in a National Romantic style. Instead, it was one of the first churches in Finland done in art nouveau. Inside the church, you would also want to see the stunning crucifix done by Hannes Autere. The church also happens to own Baroque and Romantic pipe organs. This is quite rare indeed.

An urn cemetery was added to the location in the early 1990s, and was one of the first churches to do that in Helsinki. The church can seat 1100 people. So, you might consider attending a service here, if just to listen to the beautiful pipe organs.
Alppilan Church

8) Alppilan Church

Alppilan Church was designed by the architects Keijo Olavi Ström and Tuomisto, and it was inaugurated in 1957. The building is mainly made out of white and gray natural stone, and some walls weigh about 18 tons. The church has 15 club and hobby rooms, so it also serves as a leisure destination for congregants. The church altar wall is decorated with brick reliefs, symbolizing the cross standing on the rock of Golgotha with the empty tomb at its base. The altar wall also has three icons that depict Jesus's birth, death and resurrection.

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