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Temppeliaukio Church, Helsinki, Finland

If you think that the temples carved in the rocks were typical only for past centuries, then you should see the Finnish Temppeliaukio (Temppeliaukion kirkko). According to the original design, the church was to be built in the end of the 1930-s beginning of 1940s, however, because of the Second World War the construction of the church was delayed until 1960s. As the saying goes, every cloud has a silver lining. As a result of the delay, it was decided to change the initial design of the building. Instead of another “regular” church, an interesting building was constructed, which is unique for 20th century architecture. In 1961 an architectural competition was held, which was won by brothers Timo and Tuomo Suomalainen. Construction of the building did not last long: it started in 1968 and ended in 1969.

The church, which seems very simple from the first glance, is so unusual, that Temppeliaukio attracts half a million tourists per year. The reason of this popularity is that Suomalainen brothers proposed to retain the original look of the surrounding urban landscape and build a building inside a rock. With the help of explosives a big hole was quickly made inside the rock, a round dome was built on the rock, through which the church is richly illuminated, and the church was ready.

Temppeliaukio church (its name in Finnish means Church Square) is also known as the “Church in the rock” or “Rock Church”. From outside the temple reminds a flying saucer, lurking among the rocks, because of its dome’s shape. The church has no bells, but the bell ringing is heard from the speakers built-in into the walls.

The temple belongs to the Finnish Lutheran Church. Like most of the Lutheran churches, it has modestly decorated interior, but the modesty does not lessen the magic beauty of Temppeliaukio. Thanks to the sunlight that penetrates into the interior through the glass ceiling, Temppeliaukio seem more spacious and colorful than it is in reality. Walls of the building look like slightly hewed walls of a cave. Where there were holes in the rock, large stones were added. Behind the altar there is a flat wall of solid stone, which has been honed by nature without human intervention, because of the melting glacier.

Temppeliaukio just like Armenian Church Geghard, has amazing acoustics, thanks to its location inside the rock. During the construction, the architects even slightly altered plan of the building to increase the acoustic qualities of the temple. As a result, various concerts are constantly held here, including rock concerts. The building has a beautiful organ, which has a great musical value and also beautifully decorates the church. During the days when Temppeliaukio organ is playing, there is an amazing atmosphere of pacification here. Despite the fact that the structure both from inside and outside do not resembles a Christian church, after getting in, one surly realizes – this is a place for pray and reflection.

By Anna Pambukhchyan,


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