After a slow morning we set out firstly to the Tourist Info Centre at the Main Train Station. Armed with great maps and information we set off first for Temppeliaukio Church.
Temppeliaukio is a church hewn out of solid rock. Therefore it is also known as ‘Church of the Rock’. We circumnavigated the site before we found the main entrance. From the outside we saw a circle of stone wall with a green copper dome on top. Pretty unimpressive from the outside. We were clambering over a rocky outcrop in the middle of the suburbs that seemed incongruous with its surroundings.
Once inside however, this was a very impressive building. It was designed and built by two brothers who were both architects and was opened in 1969.
It is an elliptical shape with clever skylights that could not be seen from the outside. It’s copper dome in the inside is clad with copper tape 22km long. The surface of the walls have been left rough to assist acoustics and also for aesthetic reasons. The natural occurrence of water trickling down the rocks continues and channeling has been built to allow this to continue. The working methods of stone drilling etc are also still seen.
Behind the alter, the wall is a split in the rock that has been dated back to the last Ice Age. Other features of the interior have been designed to allow the pink rock to be the showcase. Polished concrete does not compete with the natural beauty of the rock itself. Pews are made of birchwood the font was made also from stone. The outside wall I mentioned earlier is set and assembled from rock excavated from the site. In place of a bell, a chime melody is played and projected via loudspeakers outside the building.
From the Rock Church we followed our map on an urban stroll to a park that is home to the Sibelius Monument. We had never heard of Jean Sibelius but we had heard that the monument was worth a visit. Perhaps some of our more cultured friends may have heard of Mr Sibelius, but for those of you who haven’t, he was a world famous Finnish composer who lived 1865 – 1957. The monument which resembles organ pipes is made of steel. Over 600 textured pipes all arranged in an impressive structure with a bust of Jean Sibelius adjacent to it. The artist Elia Hiltunen created the structure in a way that when the wind blows the pipes also create a chiming ‘song’. It wasn’t windy enough when we visited, but you can hear it on YouTube here.
The walk back to town was interesting as we passed through regularly neighbourhoods where ‘normal life’ was going on. We stopped at a cafe in this area where we just blended in and observed everyday life. At one table was a young mum having coffee with a friend, then at another a dad having what seemed to be a casual work meeting with his young son (maybe 1yo) watching Peppa Pig on an iPhone, eating avocado toast. There was one other lady working on a laptop quietly having coffee and a pastry.
We also walked through an area of road works. There was a designated walking route through, however this was very close to the action to the point where a digger lifted it’s shovel high and swung it around above our heads. Back home the whole road would have been closed off to everyone or the work would have been carried out in the middle of the night.
Below are some of the random pictures of the neighbourhoods and Art Deco architecture that give Helsinki its character.
About 5kms walking later we were back in the main part of the city. I had an appointment and Andy went for a walk and took some of the pictures above also. We met back at the hotel and went out for an early dinner and a few drinks at one of the local bars. It was a really nice way to wind down on our last night in Helsinki. We leave tomorrow, but not before we have another day to explore a bit more.