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Helsinki Cathedral, Helsinki, Finland

On the Helsinki Senate Square - near the office of the Prime Minister of Finland, a great white church is standing out. This church was constructed in the result of the Finland’s conquest by the Russian Empire in the early 19th century. The occupation of Helsinki by Russians caused massive fire, which burned down half of the city. It was during the subsequent reconstruction of the city, led by the Emperor of Russia, when Helsinki Cathedral (Helsingin Tuomiokirkko) was built. The cathedral was built from 1830 to 1852.

Over the past one and a half century of its existence the cathedral was repeatedly renamed. Originally it was called St. Nicholas Cathedral in honor of the patron saint of Russian Emperor Nicholas I, who was also the Grand Duke of Finland. Later it was renamed to “Great Church” (Finnish Suurkirkko), and at last in 1959 was renamed to Helsinki Cathedral.

The architect of the cathedral was German-born Carl Ludwig Engel, who however died before the church was completed. Ernst Lohrmann replaced him and completed his work.

A long staircase leads to this massive white church, which stands on a hill over the Senate square. According to the tradition, the idea of this stairs belonged to Tsar Alexander II. The cathedral is built in neoclassical style, has a cruciform shape with a large circular dome in the center. It is decorated with arcades, in the style of ancient Greek architecture. Domes of the church have gentle green color. On the roof there are zinc statues of the 12 apostles.

Inner decorations of the cathedral are strikingly modest, because the Helsinki cathedral belongs to the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland. Lutheran churches are usually modest and are not being decorated as much as Catholic posh and swanky churches. Nevertheless, the simplicity of the inner decorations is in harmony with the external classical style of the building and gives a sense of infinite appeasement to the visitors. Sense of appeasement and harmony is also present near the cathedral, thanks to the wonderful view of the city from the church’s location.

The cathedral was built simultaneously with the St. Isaac's Cathedral in St. Petersburg, and has many similarities with it. Interestingly, today, the Helsinki Cathedral does not have a bad reputation because of its “conquer” history, but considered one of the most important architectural monuments and symbols of Finland.

By Anna Pambukhchyan,


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