Temppeliaukion, Helsinki’s Church in a Rock

Finland is not a religious country, in fact the majority of the Nordics is not religious. You could say that the Nordics is the most godless place in the world and the majority of the people you say it too would not see it as a sacarstic/morally complaint but as a statement of fact.

Despite its general low religiosity, Helsinki’s skyline is adorned with many beautiful churches and cathedrals. In fact it is these churches which define the Helsinki cityscape.

At the centre of the Finnish capital, the centrepiece of any picture of the city is the limestone white Lutheran cathedral with its unique Catholic features. To the east are onion shaped domes of the Russian Orthodox Uspenski Cathedral.

However, there are churches and there are are churches. Perhaps the one church that draws more ‘adherents’ than any other is the Rock Church, Temppeliaukion.The last time I was in Helsinki, I missed a trip to this fascinating tourist marvel, I was not going to miss it a second time.

Temppeliaukion is affectionately called the Rock Church, and for good reason – the church was carved into a large rock formation. The only sign that something interesting exists in the structure underneath copper dome at the top, carved to allow natural light to bath the church during the day.

Plans were lain back in 1939 to build a church in the area, however the process was delayed because of World War II,

This was not some modern structure built recently, but was one constructed more than half a century ago after winning a design competition in 1961. It is certainly at the avant-garde of architecture today, imagine when it was first unveiled back in 1969. The church was designed by two brothers, Timo and Tuomo Suomalainen. But much of the design varied from what turned out in reality, and for the better. The walls of the church are not decorated in beautiful cut structures, but the same rock that had been there for millenia. It was something that was never on the books, but only put there when sound engineers and top conductors explained that the rock formation, uncut and rough would perhaps be the very best material to engender some of the best surround acoustics possible.

The wisdom of experts gave the Rock Church one of the best acoustics in the city, making it a favourite for musicals and concerts outside of its regular church service hours.

There is little on the outside of the church to tell someone that they are entering a place of God, a small bronze cross hidden at the side, an entrance that does not call out its christian function. To the unintiated this could very well be a local concert hall with a cool design.

The church is a wonderful structure, and one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city. Perhaps the best way to enjoy the church and to fully appreciate the marvel of design however is to attend a concert that is held there.

I’m wondering if there is a rock concert in the rock church.

This is after all, the country where rock music is played in church, and their Eurovision winner is well… this…


One thought on “Temppeliaukion, Helsinki’s Church in a Rock

  1. You wrote: “Finland is not a religious country”. How You measure it? This is the key question! If I say, that I visit churches only shooting photos of them, how You understand it? I can have connections to God without visiting churches on Sundays. Our countryside offers most beautiful churches. Helsinki never can beat with them.

    Take a look at these and see what they offer:

    Church of Haukipudas

    Inside You saw Votive ships:

    Ships inside churches

    You also saw one example of our Poor man statues. Here are presented more of them:

    Statues of Paupers1

    Statues of Paupers2

    Statues of Paupers3

    Our bell towers on countryside are mainly separated from churches. They are beautiful and colorful.

    Beautiful bell towers in Finland

    After seeing these You slowly start to understand what I meant that Helsinki can never beat with our countryside churches.

    Happy and safe travels!


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