Much like the Finland
castles, the cathedrals in Finland are among the country’s
most notable edifices, but unlike the Finland castles,
the cathedrals in Finland don’t usually require
a fee to enter. As such, the cathedrals in Finland are
top attractions for many
visitors, and you’ll find some of the best in the
larger Finnish cities. The cathedrals in Helsinki,
for example, definitely beg a visit, and they are without
question some of the more impressive cathedrals in the
land. If you like the cathedrals in Helsinki, you will
also appreciate those found in some of the other southern
Finland cities, so you can add those to your list as well
if you have the time to travel around a bit.
When discussing the cathedrals in Finland, no conversation would be complete without mention of the cathedrals in Helsinki. Dominating the Helsinki skyline is the Helsinki Cathedral, and to call it a distinct landmark would be an understatement. Boasting a series of green-colored domes that cap a mostly white exterior, the Helsinki Cathedral is impossible to miss and can be seen from a number of vantage points in the city. Built between the years 1830 and 1852, the Helsinki Cathedral was designed by the famous architect, Carl Ludvig Engel. Get used to his name when enjoying a Finland vacation, as Engel is responsible for the design of many of Finland’s premier buildings, squares, and overall city layouts. Though born in Germany, Engel mostly made his mark in Finland, and the Helsinki Cathedral is one of his best works. It is one of the top attractions in Helsinki, and thousands of people visit it annually, whether to attend mass or to simply admire its form. Among the highlights of the Helsinki Cathedral are the zinc statues of the Apostles that top the aforementioned green domes. They are the largest set of zinc sculptures in the world.
Rivaling the Helsinki Cathedral in terms of scale and design is the Uspenski Cathedral, which is another one of the most visited cathedrals in Helsinki. The Uspenski Cathedral was built between 1862 and 1868, and it was designed by a Russian architect by the name of Alexey Gornostaev. Unfortunately for Gornostaev, he did not live to see his design come to fruition. You can see it, however, and chances are good that you will be rather impressed. Unlike the Helsinki Cathedral, the Uspenski Cathedral is not found in the heart of town. Instead, it overlooks the city from its hillside perch on the Katajanokka peninsula. When admiring the Uspesnki Cathedral, it is interesting to note the predominantly Russian look of the building, which gives testament to the era in Finnish history when Russia ruled the land.
While the Helsinki Cathedral and the Uspenski Cathedral are the most oft-mentioned cathedrals in Helsinki, there is another one in the city that might just be the most unique. St. Henry’s Cathedral, which was finished in 1860, was built for Catholic foreigners. Most Finns are Lutheran, so it is a bit odd that a cathedral would be built almost exclusively for foreigners of a different faith. To this day, St. Henry’s Cathedral is the main Catholic church in Finland’s capital city, and when visiting it, the statues that you will see depict St. Henry, St. Peter, and St. Paul.
The cathedrals in Helsinki aren’t the only ones near the southern Finland coast that are worth visiting. To the west, the understandably popular city of Turku boasts what amounts to one of the more impressive cathedrals in Finland. The Turku Cathedral is not only the National Shrine of Finland, but also the mother church of Finland’s branch of the Lutheran Church, making this the most important cathedral in Finland. Both the altar and the pulpit were designed by Carl Ludvig Engel, and inside you’ll also find some dazzling murals that were painted by R.W. Ekman. The Turku Cathedral, which is a major landmark near the center of the city, was damaged in the 1827 Fire of Turku, which destroyed much of the city. Thankfully, it was lovingly restored.
Other major Finnish cities that have some alluring cathedrals of their own include Tampere, Kuopio, and Oulu. The Tampere Cathedral is of significant interest when it comes to the cathedrals in these respective cities. It is famous for its frescoes, which were done by the renowned Finnish symbolist, Hugo Simberg. The Wounded Angel, which was painted by Simberg in 1903, inspired one of the frescoes that graces the Tampere Cathedral. Internationally-revered by Finns across the land, the original work is a national treasure, and in 2006, it was voted the country’s National Painting. For those who wish to see the actual painting of The Wounded Angel, you’ll have to visit the Atheneum in Helsinki. The Atheneum, as a side note, is just one of the many interesting museums in Finland that you can enjoy during your Finland holiday.