Hanging Around in Helsinki – Part II

So there I was, walking about in Helsinki, [read previous post here] when I discovered  what delighted me the most about this city was the many fantastic things you can see on foot, without spending much at all.

Esplanadi park – Helsinki

Having just eaten a ‘larger than life’ Cinnamon bun, at the iconic Cafe Esplanadi, opposite the park on Pohjois-Esplanadi, followed by another – yes, another, salmon lunch at the Market Hall, (read more about Helsinki food options here), I set off through Helsinki’s streets to burn off some calories.



My walking path through the city took me to the iconic Senate Square and the very impressive and landmark that is Tuomiokirkko. This Lutheran cathedral, built in neoclassical style, in 1830-1852, was originally a tribute to Tsar Nicholas I of Russia, who through the imperialist era, was also the Grand Duke of Finland. It is a must see!


This church is also a very useful navigational mark for any tourist, dominating the city’s  skyline as it does, from every angle, as you can see below.



The cathedral is decorated in spartan Lutheran style, quite different from the next stop on my walk:

Uspenski Cathedral


Walking easterly from the market square, I didn’t stop to buy paella, berries, reindeer meatballs or furs at the many market stalls, but continued in the direction of Katajanokka peninsula and Uspenski Cathedral, a red brick orthodox church with gilded ‘cupola’ style towers. It is a good stretch for the calf muscles getting up the steep path to the church itself, [definitely not wheelchair friendly], but the view from there does make it all worthwhile.


If you are thinking, ho hum… another church… think again, as it is the largest orthodox church outside of Russia. Much more ornate than the Lutheran cathedral, the cupola domes were even gilded in gold for the church’s anniversary and are often illuminated at night.


 If you are a fan of Russian style icon art, Uspenski is a great place to visit. Just don’t expect to see the famous icon of ‘St.Nicholas – the wonder maker’, which was stolen from there in broad daylight, back in 2007, and has yet to be found. It’s free for visitors to enter the church and also handy to know that they do allow photography inside.



I could also chat about walking past various Marimekko outlets and seeing unique Finnish clothing design at Stockmans retail centre, or the fact that 60% of the world’s ice breakers are built in Helsinki, but it was the Helsinki architecture, located behind Uspenski, that really garnered my attention.


Helsinki architecture
Helsinki architecture

I saw so many wondrous examples of Art Nouveau buildings, with ‘Jugenstil’ detailing, often coloured in the soft pastels, so popular in that era.


“Can you imagine what it is like to live in one of those buildings?” I say to my Finnish friends.  I doubt I’ll ever know, as they proceed to tell me it is actually very expensive real estate. Furthermore, I noted that security grills and pin – codes to enter the doors are, no doubt, a more contemporary addition.


Suomenlinna UNESCO World Heritage Site

My walk, continued following a short ferry ride, across the Helsinki archipelago, to Suomenlinna – (formerly known as Sveaborg): a military fortress  dating back to 1748. Due to its strategic position between three nations, this fortress served not just the Russian Military, but also the Sweden government of the day, (hence the name Sveaborg), and in later times, an independent Finland.  It was made a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1991, and one can make their way around the many cobble stoned roads, walls and tunnels, on foot.


There is no charge to visit the island, only the nominal fee for the ferry ride over there, unless you want to enter the museum, which I didn’t, as there was SO much to explore on foot.


Another Church???

Back on the mainland, I must tell you about another church I saw on my walk:  the very unique Tempooliaukko, or Rock Church. The concept of a “Church in the Rock,” was  first mooted as an competition for architects in the 1930’s, before WWII. Economic challenges meant plans to build the winning design were shelved until the 1950’s. It was finally opened in 1969.

Helsinki church
Church in the Rock

Quarried out of the natural rock that one finds in Helsinki, the church provides excellent acoustics for all kinds of concerts and visitors may enter, anytime, unless there is a wedding ceremony taking place. I was lucky enough to arrive just as a wedding was concluding. As they exited the church, the bride and groom were congratulated by a larger group than they anticipated –  applause from a host of tourists waiting outside! Heads up – they do ask for silence when you are inside the church, but photos are welcome!


However you find them, Finns do enjoy their summertime.  My walk back to the hotel took me via a summer music festival, street musicians, and even some impromptu flea markets along the main street.  I would like to have enjoyed a dinner at the beautiful Kappeli restaurant, but alas, it was Saturday night and the stern-faced maitre told me it was booked out!


I guess it will just be Something I’ll Ponder About

Linking to Restless Jo’s Monday Walks and Friendly Friday Photo Walks














26 thoughts on “Hanging Around in Helsinki – Part II”

  1. Fantastic! 🙂 🙂 So happy to have you on board. Helsinki’s a city about which I know very little and I love your casual, relaxed way of floating through the sights. Thank you for finding me and for the link. It’s a pleasure to meet you.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. You had a different website? Sunday is often an absurdly busy day for me so I didn’t look too closely. I intended to come back and have a look at part 1 of the walk when I’ve done my chores and got tomorrow’s walk finished. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    1. You are lucky to be able to access them. In Australia, they are never the same. So I have to survive on my memories. Years ago we had a Scandinavian cafe which sold cinnamon buns but unfortunately it closed down😣. I will have to make some of my own, I think. Have you made them yourself?


  2. A couple of days of seeing Helsinki on foot sounds like a brilliant idea – all those fabulous buildings to see, including those wonderful churches. Uspenski Cathedral and the Church in the Rock look like a definite must, if only for the architecture. What more could you ask than a lovely walk fuelled by salmon and cinnamon buns! You obviously had a fabulous holiday, so thank you for sharing your memories of it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Lovely post! Helsinki looks so beautiful – the architecture is stunning and such an amazing collection of churches. Will now read up on part 1! Best wishes Rosemary (Le Chic En Rose) via Restless Jo’s Monday Walks 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Alas I don’t think not for a while anyway but would love to one day! Am originally from the UK now living in Perth Western Australia but have extended family back in Europe so go over once a year. If you have time please do check out my blog as it will give you an idea of my life and travels! I will enjoy reading more of your posts too – glad you decided to join in with Jo’s Monday Walks this week it’s so interesting to read everyone’s stories! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I agree. I used to participate some years back so it is nice to get acquainted with Jo”s walks again. I see Drake is still participating. He was also posting when I first came across Jo’s blog maybe 2013??
          Nice to meet another Aussie blogger!!

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I have only been joining in for a couple of years or so – if my post is about a walk or strolling around then I link in but I always read the weekly walk! Yes definitely whereabouts in Oz are you?


  4. Oh it reminds me of the time when I lived in Finland. I lived in a small student town on the North, but visiting Helsinki was always a pleasure. I just loved the big-city vibes although Helsinki by no means is a big city compared to other world-class capitals.
    Fantastic photos!
    Pooja @lostinprettyeurope


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