The sights of Helsinki are mainly concentrated in the center – within a radius of several kilometers from the railway station and the port of Katajanokka. In addition to architectural beauties, the capital of Finland attracts tourists with a variety of museums, exhibitions and festivals. In addition, almost a third of the city consists of “green” spaces of parks and squares – it is easy to breathe here, and natural beauties harmoniously complement the urban landscape.
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In 1812, Alexander I proclaimed Helsinki the capital of the Principality of Finland, and large-scale construction began in the city. The center of the new capital was appointed Senaatintori – Senate Square.
7 things to do in Helsinki
- Explore the dungeons of Sveaborg.
- Taste local delicacies at the Kauppatori market.
- See the city panorama from the Ferris wheel.
- Listen to the silence in the eponymous chapel on Narinkkatori Square.
- Take a ride in the bar tram.
- Feed the seagulls on the Senate Square.
- Make a wish on the magical fifth step of the Cathedral.
The first building that appeared on it is the Senate, where the government of the country sits today. Opposite it is the University, whose old building seems to be a mirror image of the Senate.
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On the corner of Senaatintori is the Main University Library, the entrance is open to everyone. There are especially many Slavists among those who wish, who come here from all over the world to work with the unique collection of Slavic literature collected in the library thanks to Alexander I, who decided to send here one copy of each book published in the Russian Empire.
But the architectural dominant on the square is, of course, the snow-white Lutheran Cathedral of Tuomiokirkko. The central dome erected by Engel is surrounded by 4 smaller domes – they were added by his student Ernst Lormann after the death of the architect. Statues of the twelve apostles adorn the cathedral in the manner of St. Isaac’s Cathedral in St. Petersburg. A high staircase with steep steps leads from the square to the cathedral, from the middle of which a view of the harbor opens. In the center of the square there is a monument to Alexander II, around which there are 4 symbolic figures – Law, Peace, Enlightenment and Labor. The main merit of the Russian Tsar to the Finns was the legalization of the Finnish language in 1863, for which the latter are grateful to him to this day. Senaatintori Square – the central venue for city holidays, student pickets and youth open-air concerts.
The Töölö area is a quiet backwater, chosen by the creative intelligentsia. There are three main attractions here. The monument to Sibelius, the famous Finnish composer, attracts tourists with its unusual shape: organ pipes of various lengths and configurations rise from the pedestal on supports. The total weight of the monument is 24 tons.
The Church in the Rock (Temppelinaukio, 1969) is a unique temple carved into a flat rock. Only a dome of glass and copper comes out. The church has excellent acoustics, and the organ is one of the best in the country.
Hietaniemi Cemetery is more like a sculpture exhibition in a shady park. Almost all Finnish presidents are buried here, the architect Engel, who built about 30 buildings in the style of imperial neoclassicism in 25 years in Helsinki, the jeweler Faberge, the icon of Finnish design and architecture Alvar Aalto, the actors of the national theater.
Cathedrals and churches in Helsinki
There are over 60 churches in Helsinki. One of them is the Assumption Cathedral (1868), located on the island of Katajanokka, the main Orthodox church in the city and the largest Orthodox church in northern Europe. The architecture of the cathedral reflects the influence of Russian wooden architecture in the northern regions. Also noteworthy is the church in Kallio (Kallion kirkko), located in the center of the district on a sloping hill. Its high bell tower is visible from all the open spaces of the surrounding areas. The majestic, strictly symmetrical building is lined with stone, the interior decoration is without frills. The music for the bells was written by Jean Sibelius.
Museums in Helsinki
The guests of the capital will certainly be interested in museums united under the auspices of the Finnish National Gallery – the Sinebryukhovsky Museum of Fine Arts (a large collection of Western European paintings, porcelain, silver and furniture), the Ateneum Art Museum (a collection of Finnish and foreign art of the 18-20th centuries), a museum modern art “Kiasma”, the open-air museum Seurasaari, as well as other museums in Helsinki.
You can have a nice walk around the Eira district with its villas and a touch of bourgeois, along the Hietalahti docks, admiring the handsome liners, or look into the ultra-modern Ruoholahti, the youngest district in the city center. The day can be completely devoted to Sveaborg – a sea fortress, standing on 6 islands in the bay.
- What to see in Helsinki in a day
- What to see in Helsinki
Helsinki for children
Young adventurers will be able to climb into a bear’s lair, ride a bike on a tightrope or visit a pilot’s cockpit at the Evrika popular science center. In its unusual spherical Verne cinema, both the dizzying ascent of Everest and the flights of bird flocks look spectacular.
Helsinki Zoo is considered one of the northernmost in the world, although representatives of the southern fauna from lions to peacocks also feel great here. In winter, an ice sculpture competition is held here. Linnanmäki Amusement Park is a classic amusement park with roller coasters and fun for adrenaline junkies. Children will have unforgettable impressions from visiting the two-story aquarium at the Sea Life Marine Center, where the underwater world of different latitudes is presented – from the cold waters of the Baltic to the tropical ocean.
In the Suomenlinna Fortress, the boys will be especially interested in the bastions, tunnels and cannons, while the girls will be interested in the Toy Museum with charming Moomin trolls.
Not only children, but also adults will enjoy the Lego Show theme park where you can take part in building competitions, meet Star Wars characters or get to know Harry Potter. Many slides and water activities await children and adults in one of the largest water parks in Europe – “Serena” (website with Russian version). Liikennekaupunki Children’s Transport City is a 5-minute walk from the Olympic Stadium. In summer, admission is free – you can take a pedal car for free and learn the rules of the road in practice.
The climate of Helsinki is milder than Moscow or St. Petersburg. But in the city, the center of which is open on all sides to the sea, the wind constantly blows. From the end of May, absolutely all museums, restaurants, excursion routes begin to work. The most pleasant time for a trip is warm June.