Friday, April 18, 2014

Helsinki, Finland

Helsinki was founded in 1550 as a Swedish trading post.  In 1809, Finland was annexed by Russia and, in 1812, the capital was moved from Turku to Helsinki.  Under Russian influence, the neoclassic architecture here was modeled after St. Petersburg

Helsinki is home to 614,000 people but there are over 1.36 million people living in the greater metro area.  About 25% of the entire country's population lives in the greater metro area. 

Helsinki sits on the Gulf of Finland, about 80 km (50 miles) from Tallinn, Estonia, 300 km (190 miles) from St. Petersburg, Russia, and 400 km (250 miles) from Stockholm, Sweden.

Finland is officially bilingual so all of the street signs are in both Finnish and Swedish.

Upsenski Cathedral was consecrated in 1868.  The Eastern Orthodox cathedral is on a hillside and overlooks the city.  It is said to be the largest Orthodox church in Western Europe.

St. John's Church is the largest Lutheran church in Helsinki and the largest stone church in Finland.  It was built from 1888 to 1891.

Mikael Agricola Church is named after the bishop who is the father of the standard literary Finnish language.  The tower is 106 meters (348 feet) tall.

The Finnish National Theater is the country's oldest Finnish-language professional theater.

City Hall

The parliament house is in Helsinki's Töölö district.  Construction began in 1926 and it was completed in 1931.

At Sibelius Park is the Sibelius Monument dedicated to composer Jean Sibelius.  It consists of over 600 hollow steel pipes which are welded together in a wave-like pattern.  It weighs 24 tons.

The Old Church of Helsinki is an Evangelical Lutheran church.  It was completed in 1826 and is the oldest existing church in central Helsinki.

Helsinki was supposed to host the 1940 Summer Olympics but they were cancelled due to WWII.  However, the Olympic stadium was used for the 1952 Olympic Games.  It is still the country's largest stadium.

Panoramic view of Senate Square from Helsinki Cathedral

Senate Square is the oldest part of the city.  In the center of the square is a statue of Emperor Alexander II that was erected in 1894.  His reforms increased Finland's autonomy from Russia and he was known as "the Good Czar."

Helsinki Cathedral is the Evangelical Lutheran cathedral.  The neoclassic cathedral was built from 1830 to 1852 as a tribute to Czar Nicolas I.  It was known as St. Nicholas' Church until 1917 when Finland gained independence.

The Temppeliaukio Church is known as the rock church.  This Lutheran church was consecrated in 1969.  It is built out of solid rock and light enters through a glazed dome. 
Inside the rock church

The Czarina's Stone was erected in 1835 to honor the last Czarina of Russia.

Here are a couple of Rick Steves videos I found out on YouTube that talks about Helsinki and a couple of the churches.

©Rick Steves

©Rick Steves

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