Overview: Though most visitors are familiar with Senate Square, and Helsinki's art nouveau central train station, the city has an astonishing... more »
Though most visitors are familiar with Senate Square, and Helsinki's art nouveau central train station, the city has an astonishing... more » array of architectural marvels to show off. It's no surprise that this city was selected as the World Design Capital for 2012.
What makes Helsinki such a fascinating study is that the city's rich architectural history is matched by an equally exciting modern structural landscape and the capital features some stunning contemporary building design (sometimes to public outcry). less «
Tips: This tour is designed to be a visual/structural tour that explores the design of the buildings featured rather than their contents ... more »(aside from the architectural museum). If you do decide to spend a significant amount of time looking at the art in the Kiasma or touring the inside of the buildings in Senate Square, for example, then plan a whole day for this tour. less «
Centrally located, you can either walk here from the downtown (it is located just a few minutes past the Helsinki Music Centre) or the central train station or take Trams 4, 7, and 10, which stop at Mannerheimintie (National Museum stop).
Built in 1967, this is one of the city's best known modern architectural gems. It was designed by Finland's ... Moreown Alvar Aalto, whom many consider to be the country's most famous and internationally influential architect. This concert hall is said to be his masterpiece.
Whether you agree or not that it deserves to be called a masterpiece, it is incredibly striking and commands the skyline. The concert hall's exterior, which is sometimes described as looking like an "artistic iceberg," is made of Carrara marble. The inside is also lovely with more marble, hardwood and an elegant staircase.
Monday to Friday 9am-5pm. You can only tour the inside (though you can see the lobby) via a guided tour. Tours are offered twice a week; times vary so check the website for details. The cost is 11,50€.
Mannerheimintie 13e, Helsinki
The Church in the Rock is about a 10 minute walk. Head northwest on Mannerheimintie/ Mannerheimvägen/E12 then turn left onto Cygnaeuksenkatu/ Cygnaeusgatan.
Turn left briefly onto Tölögatan/ Töölönkatu and continue right once again onto Cygnaeuksenkatu/ Cygnaeusgatan for about 200 meters (past Museokatu). Cygnaeuksenkatu/ Cygnaeusgatan turns... More slightly left and becomes Nervanderinkatu/ Nervandersgatan. Turn right onto Tempelgatan/ Temppelikatu and walk for about 60 meters. Turn left onto Luthergatan/ Lutherinkatu.
Never was a church more aptly named.
Church in the Rock (also known as Temppeliaukio) is an astonishing Lutheran Church carved out of a massive block of granite. Opened in 1969, it was designed by architects and brothers Timo and Tuomo Suomalainen.
When the brothers first presented the design for approval to church directors, they did not include the rock walls, fearing that such a design would be too controversial. However, upon hearing what great acoustics the rock provided, the stone walls were allowed to stay. The roof, constructed of glass and a copper dome made entirely of wire, are equally impressive and give the church the otherworldly outline of a UFO when seen from above.
Mon, Tues, Thurs and Friday 10am-8pm
Sun 11.45–1.45pm & 3.30–6pm
Luthergatan 3, Helsinki
About a 10 minute walk from the church is this unconventional chapel. Head northeast on Luthergatan/ Lutherinkatu and turn right on Fredrikinkatu/ Fredriksgatan. After about 600 meters, turn left onto Urho Kekkonens gata/Urho Kekkosen katu and walk for about 150 meters. Turn left onto Simonkatu/ Simonsgatan.
One of Helsinki's newest additions to ... Morethe architectural landscape was built in 2012 in recognition of the city's designation as the World Design Capital.
The Chapel of Silence (Hiljaisuuden kappeli), which looks like a cross between and egg cup and an ark, was designed by K2S Architects. Its wooden exterior is mirrored in the minimalist, windowless interior (though light comes in via a skylight), and completely encases visitors in a warm, welcoming silence.
Located near the busy Narinkka Square and Kamppi shopping area, the chapel is meant to be an antidote to noise pollution and provide visitors with a few moments of respite from consumerism chaos.
Simonkatu 7, HelsinkiLess
About a five minute walk northeast just past Mannerheiminaukio/ Mannerheimplatsen is the Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art.
Opened in 1998, the museum was built by American architect Steven Holl. The play of glass, light and curves on both the exterior and interior speak to the architect's renowned use of light. The imposing building itself is as... More worthy of reflection as are the art works it houses.
This is one of the most controversial additions to the city's annals of architecture. Though some cheered the modern design, many did not appreciate the use of an American architect rather than a homegrown talent, and also argued that its contemporary composition clashed with the aesthetics of the city's more august architecture. What do you think?
Under 18 free
Free admission on the first Friday of the month after 5pm.
Mannerheiminaukio 2, Helsinki
About a three minute walk east of Kiasma is the Helsinki Central Railway Station.
The clock-tower and light-bearers of this art nouveau masterpiece are among the most recognizable landmarks in Helsinki. Consistently making top 10 lists of the world's most remarkable train stations, it was designed by architect Eliel Saarinen and opened in 1919.
... More Address:
Helsinki's best-known architectural treasures are just a 10 minute walk away. Head east on Kaivokatu and turn right onto Centralgatan/ Keskuskatu. Turn left onto Ateneumgränden/ Ateneuminkuja and continue onto Yliopistonkatu for about 300 meters until you reach the square.
This is the historic (and some would say architectural) heart of the city.... More The majority of the buildings were designed by famed German architect Carl Ludvig Engel and this square is an homage to his genius for neoclassical design.
Two of Engel's most striking buildings are, to the east, the Palace of the Council of State, which was completed in 1822, and to the west, the National Library of Finland (previously the Helsinki University Library) completed in 1832.
The Square's most photographed structure is the Lutheran Cathedral(Tuomiokirkko). Engel worked on this Cathedral (which is considered his neoclassical masterpiece) from 1818 until his death in 1840. The cathedral was not completed until 12 years after his death.Less
Head south on Unioninkatu/ Unionsgatan and turn right onto Esplanaden/ Pohjoisesplanadi and left onto Fabianinkatu/ Fabiansgatan. Turn right at Kapellesplanaden/ Kappeliesplanadi and left onto Kasarmikatu/ Kaserngatan and walk for about 450 meters.
This museum is a Mecca for anyone interested in Finnish architecture. What better illustrates the ... MoreFinns' devotion to the architectural arts than this museum, which, when construction began in the 1890s, was one of just a few museums in the world devoted entirely to architecture. Though the museum focuses on the work of Finnish architects both in Finland and abroad, there are also some exhibitions on foreign architects.
If you have the time, be sure to check out the Design Museum, which is just around the corner.
Design Museum combi-ticket 12€
Children under 18 free
Free entry on 1st Friday of the month
Kasarmikatu 24, Helsinki