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 the 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 the 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 Marimekko outlets and seeing unique Finnish clothing design at Stockmans, 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 friend.  I doubt I’ll ever know, as they proceed to tell me it is very expensive real estate. Security grills and pin – codes on 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 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???

Incredibly, I must tell you about another church, I saw on my walk, in Helsinki – the very unique Tempooliaukko. The concept of a “Church in the Rock,” was  first mooted as an architecture competition,  in 1930’s, before WWII and economic challenges meant plans to build the winning design were shelved until the 1950’s. It 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 left, the bride and groom were congratulated by a larger group than they anticipated –  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, even 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

















About Forestwoodfolk

Scandinavian culture, literature and traditions are close to my heart, even though I am Australian. I have Scandinavian, Frisian and Prussian/Silesian ancestry and for that reason, I feel a connection with that part of the world. I am an avid Nordic Crime fiction reader, and enjoy photography, writing and a variety of cooking and crafts, and traditional decorative art forms. Politically aware and egalitarian by nature, I have a strong environmental bent.
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26 Responses to Hanging Around in Helsinki – Part II

  1. restlessjo says:

    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

  2. Freshly baked cinnamon buns are the best, having seen your photo makes me want to have one immediately 🙂


  3. I absolutely love taking a walk in Katajanokka, the art noveau buildings are so gorgeous. The new restaurants and cafes down from Uspenski cathedral by the water are the hottest in town this summer.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The Tale Light Trekkers says:

    You had me at cinnamon rolls. Haha! Looks like a fantastic place to visit! Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. milliethom says:

    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

  6. 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

  7. 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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