Being one of the most recognizable landmarks, the Helsinki Cathedral stands atop the city overlooking Senate Square, where on any given day, after 10am (at least during the warmer months) you’ll find swarms of tourists as they either flood in from Market Square where the cruise ships have docked or unload from the tour buses that line the square.
In the center of Senate Square lies a statue of Alexander II, the emperor of Russia who, at the time (the statue was unveiled on April 29, 1984, Alexander’s birthday), was in control of Finland. Even after Finland’s independence, Alexander remains, but there are talks of replacing him with a piece symbolizing Finland’s independence.
The interior of the cathedral is strikingly white, with very little decoration. I’m not sure why I expected anything other than that, considering the Finnish, as well as the Scandinavian, style is minimalistic with white being a dominating color (or lack there of).
Being an Evangelical Lutheran cathedral, the statue of Martin Luther is necessary. If you walk to the center of the sanctuary you’ll find Luther, along with four other statues standing at the four corners of the interior section, overlooking the pews.
Now look up & you’ll find the enormous organ towering up on the balcony, facing the alter.
The pulpit seemed to be the most decorated and colorful piece of work in the entire building. Hovering above the pews, this is still used for ceremonies and events, despite the thousands of tourists that flood through the doors every year. I was surprised at how small the interior of the building was. From the outside the cathedral seems monstrous, making up the Helsinki skyline entirely on it’s own as seen from incoming ships and out on Suomenlinna Island, however, it only seats 1,300.
The best part of the entire cathedral (according to me) is the crypt. During the summer months the crypt is opened up and used as a cafe.
The interior is cozy, a bit too dark for reading, but perfect for chatting with an old friend over a cup of tea or coffee. I arrived minutes after they had opened at 11am, and was served a fresh pulla warm from the oven, and I have got to say that it was the BEST pulla I have had since arriving here in Finland (and that’s saying something since I try a new pulla every time I see one)!