The View from Helsinki Cathedral

The Helsinki Cathedral is an icon of the city and goes by many names, in Finnish its called Tuomiokirkko. Events and gatherings take place throughout the year in Senate Square with the Cathedral as its backdrop, locals gather on the steps during the summer, and its domes can be seen from all over the city.

As soon as I knew I was leaving Helsinki one building came to mind, the Helsinki Cathedral. I had little time left in the city and I knew that I must try and visit the dome and see the view from the top before I did. I had seen and heard about others doing it so I made the arrangements.

Since leaving Finland I had buried the photos away in my archives and sat on them a little too long. It is finally time to share those with you and hopefully you will see what is so great about the landmark and the beautiful city that surrounds it.

The Views from Helsinki Cathedral

Helsinki doesn’t have the most impressive skyline when you compare it to other capital cities but it still has its fair share of remarkable buildings and some great examples of impressive architecture.. Below you can see St John’s Church, Mikael Agricola Church named after the godfather of Finnish Language, and my personal favourite the tower of the Helsinki Fire Station.

The Views from Helsinki Cathedral

The Views from Helsinki Cathedral

Once we had climbed more than a handful of narrow stairways we came into a opening, In the center of the space were the bells and surrounding them were windows facing in every direction. I was able to walk freely around the room and open any of the windows, allowing me obscured views over the city.

Luckily, the day was perfect. An almost clear sky allowed for excellent views and, even more importantly, some of the best photographs I have been able to take of the city I had called home for the last five years.

The Views from Helsinki Cathedral

The National Library of Finland has also become one of my much loved buildings in the city. From the outside the building carries little dominance compared to the other buildings surrounding the Cathedral but inside the details and architecture are different to anywhere else in the city.

See inside the National Library of Finland, though I won’t spoil the impressive main hall, that has to be seen for yourself.

The Views from Helsinki Cathedral

Surrounding the Helsinki Cathedral are many official buildings including the beautiful House of the Estate (pictured below) and opposite it the Bank of Finland, as well as government buildings and part of the campus for Helsinki University.

The Views from Helsinki Cathedral

The tall granite tower of Kallio Church could be seen to the North, it is much closer than it seems and can be reached easily by tram, metro or even walking from the Cathedral. In comparison the two are very different in design, many of Helsinki’s places of worship are, including the relatively new Chapel of Silence in Kamppi and the well-visited  Temppeliaukio Church (Rock Church) in Töölö.

The Views from Helsinki Cathedral

Senate Square

If Helsinki had a tourist center Senate Square would be it. The historical buildings date back to the early days of the city and the statue of Russian Emperor Alexander II located in the middle of the square is a reminder of the time Finland spent as an autonomous part of Russia.

Helsinki Cathedral is the jewel of Senate Square and dominates over the surrounding buildings. All built around the same period with many of them being designed by the German architect C.L Engel, the creator never lived to see his masterpiece finished. After his death a number of modifications were made to the design of the Cathedral.

In the harbour you can see the small ferry coming in from the island of Suomenlinna, a popular destination for both tourists and locals alike during the summer months. Another building worth mentioning is the Sederholm House, now the home of the Helsinki City Museum, and the oldest building in central Helsinki dating back to 1757.

The Views from Helsinki Cathedral

Uspenski Cathedral

Another reminder of Russia’s influence in Helsinki is the nearby Uspenski Cathedral. Constructed a few years after the completion of Helsinki Cathedral and designed by a Russian architect by the name of Aleksey Gornostayev. Unfortunately, Gornostayev died before construction began.

The Views from Helsinki Cathedral

Inside the Helsinki Cathedral

Hidden inside the structure of the Helsinki Cathedral is the original wooden frame. As we climbed higher and higher the smell of wood grew stronger. Wood is the backbone of Finland. Not only was it used heavily in the early days of construction but it is still relied on today. If you ever manage to venture outside of the cities you will soon understand why, trees grow in such abundance across the entire country.

The Views from Helsinki Cathedral

The old wooden crane that was used to build the structure and lift the heavy bronze bells into place still remains in the roof. It is almost impossible for me to understand how the Cathedral would have been constructed during the 1800’s and the effort needed to lift the bell into the roof is an achievement in itself.

The Views from Helsinki Cathedral

On the way up we stopped to admire the clock mechanism, a central unit with two metal rods reaching out to the clock faces on each side of the dome. After leaving the Cathedral I went around the outside and looked up to the clock that I had squeezed behind to photograph only a few moments ago.

The Views from Helsinki Cathedral

The Final View

The final view was from inside the dome itself. It may have not been the most impressive but it was still from the highest point that could be reached inside the Cathedral. A small dirt covered window facing East allowed for a view over the roof tops and into the suburbs. At the time I didn’t realise but this was my last view across the city and what an excellent one it was.

The Views from Helsinki Cathedral

Further Reading:

If you love views then I am sure you would be interested in seeing views from the other places I have visited in the Helsinki.

Helsinki Cathedral from the Fire Station

The View from Kallio Church in summer and winter

Photos of Helsinki Cathedral

Coming soon: Climbing Kallio Church

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Yrjönkatu Swimming Hall 

Yrjönkatu Swimming Hall is the oldest indoor swimming hall in Helsinki, opening in 1928, and located in Kamppi.  Originally the hall was privately owned until 1954 when it was transferred to the Finnish Sports Federation and then in 1967 to the City of Helsinki.

Being naked was one of the hardest things for me to adjust to about living in Finland. To most Finns it isn’t given a second thought, it’s a part of their culture and almost goes hand in hand with going to the sauna.

I had never been brave enough to visit Yrjönkatu Swimming Hall while it was open, the fear of the unknown was too overwhelming. I had adjusted to being naked in the sauna but there was something about naked swimming that felt like a step too far.

Housed inside is one pool, 25 metres in length and 10 metres wide. The hall has gone through a number of renovations, the last in 1997, though its interior has not been changed since it first opened.

Traditionally people swam naked in Yrjönkatu but since 2001 it became optional to wear a swimming suit or not. As you can swim naked days are separated and alternated between men and women.

I was able to arrange a time to visit the swimming hall before they had opened for the day. The water was perfectly clear and blue, reflecting its surroundings on the still surface of the pool.

Hidden away from view are the changing areas, showers, saunas (of course), and even a cafe on the second floor with seating looking over the pool.

More information about Yrjönkatu can be found on the City of Helsinki’s website.

This place was so amazing I couldn’t stop taking photos, it must be one of the best building interiors I have visited during my time in Helsinki.

What do you think? Have you been there?

If you would like to see more from Yrjonkatu Swimming Hall let me know in the comments and I may post a few more. Don’t forget to visit Instagram for more in the meantime!

Helsinki Metro

Over the years that I have lived in Helsinki I have become to rely on the metro to move around the city, as many others do too. It has also been a place for me to explore my photography. Though Helsinki metro doesn’t have the wow factor that other systems may have (I am thinking of you Stockholm), or the extensive reach of others, it still has its charm.

Helsinki Metro

Hakaniemi Metro Station

Helsinki Metro has been a continuous project, opening for operation in 1982 after almost 30 years being planned. The small rail system has gone through many changes with new stations being added up until 2007 and with huge expansions currently under development, Lansimetro.

Helsinki Metro carries 63 million passengers a year, a relative small number when you consider the London Underground carries 1.34 billion a year and that is only the 11th most busiest metro system in the world!

Quick Facts

Helsinki Metro is the Northern most metro system in the world.

63 million passengers a year.

Currently 11 stations, 6 of which are underground.

Plans to extend the metro to the west are under way.

Several of the Helsinki Metro Stations contain a number of art works and installations.

Helsinki Metro

University of Helsinki Metro Station

Ruoholahti

Currently Ruoholahti is the last station, or first depending on your point of view, on the current metro line. From here the plans are to extend the metro to the west, connecting Helsinki with the neighbouring city of Espoo.Helsinki Metro

Ruoholahti contains an installation by artist Juhana Blomstedt, one of the many stations in Helsinki that does have some form of artwork. The station is decorated in blue and white tiles, reflecting Ruoholahti’s maritime location.

Kamppi

Helsinki Metro

Kamppi is the station I use the most. Placed in the rock above the platform are signs pointing in ever direction, each sign has a city from around the world engraved on it.

In between the two platforms is a small space organised by HAM that hosts different art exhibits, changing a number of times a year. At the time of writing the space contains artwork by the street artist Jussi TwoSeven, before that it was the Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama.

See ROAR27 by Jussi TwoSeven in my latest post Art in the Metro.

Helsinki Metro

University of Helsinki

Helsinki Metro

Formerly known as Kaisaniemi, for the park which is located a few hundred meters from the stations entrance, but the name was changed in 2014 to University of Helsinki for the campus that it serves.

University of Helsinki station is one of the most colourful out of all of the stations and that is because of the art installation that starts at the top of the escalators and continues down onto the platfrom. The lighting installation was created by Annikki Luukela and is named Network.

Helsinki Metro

Kalasatama

The first station above ground when heading east from the from city and the last to be completed in 2007. Currently, the area surrounding the station is under heavy development but still one of the most interesting with Suvilahti and Teurastamo on its doorstep.

The station was built around the existing track with little disruption to metro traffic, which is also the reason why there are two platforms, one for each direction of travel, rather than a central platform that serves both directions.

The platform was at one time full of vibrant street art completed by locals and reflected the community that the station serves but upon a recent visit I found to my surprise that it was all gone!

But here is a reminder of its inspiration.

Helsinki Metro

Kalasatama Metro Station from early 2016

Itäkeskus

There is only one mistake, a part from heading in the wrong direction, that can be made when using the Helsinki Metro and that can happen here at Itäkeskus where the metro splits, one to Mellumäki, the other to Vuorasaari.

Helsinki Metro

Mellumäki

Mellumäki is 17km from Ruoholahti station, the full length of the current metro line, and the northern most metro station in the world. After Helsinki the next contender would be St Petersburg and its most northern station Parnas.

Länsimetro

Länsimetro or west metro will continue underground from the already existing Ruoholahti station and stretch for a further 13.5 km to the west of Helsinki. The extension was planned to open in August 2016 but has been delayed for an undetermined amount of time. In recent news it has been thought to open later this year but most likely not until March of next year.

Plans to extent the metro line have been underway since 1997 (though plans made in the 1950s contained stations in Espoo) when the city of Helsinki proposed the idea to the city of Espoo. The plans were continuously rejected until terms were agreed.

The new line will at first include eight more stations with a further five once phase one is complete. These new metro stations will connect the residents of Espoo to Helsinki, along with the current bus and train lines.

Helsinki Metro

Kalasatama Metro Station

Have you enjoyed this? Then I would like to hear from you. What is your favourite metro system in the world? Have you any great pictures from beautifully decorated metro stations? I would like to see them. Also, I am a huge fan of long exposures and moving trains, let me see them in the comments below.

Further Reading:

More information on the art works that feature in many of the stations can be found on HAM Helsinki’s Sculpture Database.

If you like photographs of metro stations, so does Somewhere in Helsinki. His Instagram also includes the beautiful metro stations of Stockholm.

Many of these photos have been added to my own Instagram account.

The Many Faces of Tallinn

I was in Tallinn for the day, as many of you may already know, photographing the city for Day With A Local. I have been in Tallinn many times but this time was different. Firstly, I was alone and could explore at my leisure, secondly, I was able to see the city in a completely different way.

It started with Linnahall, an area I have always wanted to visit but never got around to, even though I have passed by it many times when leaving and returning to the port. Then as I walked through the neighbourhood of Kalamaja, pretty much by accident, I started to see a city of colour. Each building and door different from the last.

Once seeing these details there was no stopping my eyes from seeing more. As I begun walking the streets of the medieval Old Town I started to see faces hidden in the buildings themselves. Maybe it was just me, after looking for so long you can start to trick yourself, so I want to hear what you think.

Here are my best buildings with faces from Tallinn. If you enjoy them I would like to hear from you in the comments below, tell me what your favourite is or share with me a building you have photographed that has its own expression.

The Many Faces of Tallinn

The strange expression of St Nicholas Church.

The Many Faces of Tallinn

Timed this one perfectly when a passer-by appeared down the alleyway, or should I say open mouth.

The Many Faces of Tallinn

This one could be a little bit of a reach but those half circular windows in the roof definitely resemble eyes.

The Many Faces of Tallinn

Looking out of the old town. Many tourists and visitors to Tallinn’s old town come through this way. Doesn’t this entrance look surprised?

Tell me your favourite below.

Further reading:

More from Tallinn HERE, my favourite would be my visit to Linnahall.

I am a team member of Day With A Local and these photographs were taken in cooperation with them.

Another great city I recently visited was Copenhagen.

Doors of Tallinn

Photographing doors had never occurred to me until a year ago but now I find myself doing it more and more often. After walking through the Kalamaja neighbourhood and looking for more details of the city I begun to look out for unique doors as I walked through the old town.

Doors of Tallinn

My favourite from the doors I photographed in Kalamaja.

Doors of Tallinn

Passing through the medieval streets of Tallinn’s old town.

Doors of Tallinn Doors of Tallinn

A side door to the grand Alexander Nevsky Cathedral. It wouldn’t be fair to include the main entrance to the cathedral here.

Doors of Tallinn

A modest entrance to a cellar bar and restaurant nestled in the walls of the old town.

Doors of Tallinn

The juxtaposition between door and building. The underwhelming colourless walls with its bright blue door.

Doors of Tallinn

Not exactly a door but I am going to include it, at least it adds a but of variety and demonstrates the surprises you find on ever corner of Tallinn.

As there is little road traffic in the old town and therefore not many cars parked up on the sides of the roads there were far more opportunities for photographs.

See a fellow bloggers perspective on the same door at Destination Anywhere, minus the scaffolding.

The grand (above) and the old (below). Which do you prefer?

This trip opened my eyes to the peculiar beauty of Tallinn and it was a welcomed surprise. I look forward to returning and seeing more. I was only able to visit a few of the neighbourhoods in the center of town, next time I want to travel further afield.

Any tips on any particularly special areas in Tallinn that you think I should visit? I would like to hear them in the comments.

Further reading:

Read my previous post Doors of Kalamaja

I am a team member of Day With A Local and these photographs were taken in cooperation with them.

More doors HERE.

Linnahall In Black and White

Slowly decaying on a small section of Tallinn’s coast is Linnahall, an old sports and concert venue built in 1980. The venue was built as part of the Olympics that took place in Moscow in the same year.  At this time Estonia was apart of the Soviet Union and as Moscow didn’t have a suitable location to hold the sailing events Tallinn was chosen.

Linnahall In Black and White

Linnahall In Black and White

There was little sign of life and I was the only walking around. At the entrance there were a few cars parked outside but I had no idea where the owners would have gone. If the offices inside were used I thought to myself, what a miserable place to work.

Linnahall In Black and White

Linnahall In Black and White

When the venue was completed it was named V. I. Lenin Palace of Culture and Sport but was later changed to Linnahall, most likely when Estonia became independent in 1991.

Linnahall In Black and White

Linnahall In Black and White

Who knows when Poseidon saw its last customers. Not much of a night out now.

Linnahall In Black and White

You can walk fairly freely around the building as long as you can navigate the maze of stairs, many of which still lead to a dead end or locked gate.
Linnahall In Black and White

Linnahall In Black and White

What surprised me most about Linnahall was that the building was completed in 1980, and from the looks of things, it was abandoned almost right away. I know, 1980 was actually sometime ago and more likely the venue has been used more recently.

Linnahall In Black and White

Linnahall In Black and White

It seems like such a waste to leave a large and interesting building to go unused but it happens everywhere, especially when it comes to buildings built for the Olympics. My visit to Linnahall has sparked my interested and I am keen to learn more about the building and what the city has planned for its future.

Linnahall In Black and White Linnahall In Black and White

As with any building left to sink into disrepair, Linnahall has attracted a fair amount of attention from graffiti artists, some of it better than others..

Linnahall In Black and White

Linnahall In Black and White

Views of St Olaf’s Church and Tallinn’s medieval old town can be seen as it’s only a short distance away.

Linnahall In Black and White

From the outside it is difficult to tell what Linnahall is all about. The crumbling and graffitied walls, the locked doors and barred windows, are hiding the secrets of what lies within. Unfortunately, that will have to wait for another time.

Linnahall In Black and White

Further reading:

I am a team member of Day With A Local and these photographs were taken in cooperation with them.

If you are a fan of Landscapes try my post Lapland in Black and White or take a look at my other posts in black and white, there are plenty.