The impressive green-domed Lutheran Cathedral (Tuomiokirkko in Finnish) dominates Senate Square and the skyline of Helsinki.
History of Lutheran Cathedral
Helsinki is famed for its architects, but it was a German, Carl Ludvig Engel, who laid out Senate Square and designed the Lutheran Cathedral. After a fire destroyed most of Helsinki during its annexation by the Russians, the new city square was inaugurated as part of the 19th-century reconstruction of Helsinki under Russian administration.
The Tuomiokirkko was built to replace a smaller church on the site dating from 1727. Construction of the Lutheran Cathedral was overseen by Engel from 1830 until his death in 1840, when it was taken over by Ernst Lohrmann. Lohrmann added the zinc statues of the twelve apostles on the roof, a bell tower, and a side chapel to Engel's design. The church was completed in 1852.
The cathedral was built as a tribute to the Grand Duke, Nicholas I, the Tsar of Russia, and was called St. Nicholas' Church until the independence of Finland in 1917. In 1959, it became a cathedral of the Evangelical Lutheran denomination.
Extensive renovations, both to the cathedral and to its crypt, brought the Lutheran Cathedral back to its original beauty in 1998. One of Helsinki's most popular tourist attractions, it receives more than 350,000 visitors each year.
What to See at Lutheran Cathedral
Both the Lutheran Cathedral and Senate Square are a rather severe interpretation of the neoclassical style, which is intended to reflect the glory of ancient Greece and Rome. Lining the roof are statues of the apostles made of zinc; they are copies of the sculptures on Vor Frue Kirke in Copenhagen.
Compared with the neoclassical flourishes of the exterior, the interior seems rather spartan but is nevertheless attractive. It seats 1300 worshippers and has an altarpiece painted in the 1880s. The statues of angels that flank the altarpiece and the pulpit were designed by Engel.
The best part of the interior is the gloomily atmospheric crypt, now used as a café.
Quick Facts on Lutheran Cathedral
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|Coordinates:||60.170400° N, 24.952419° E|
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Map of Lutheran Cathedral
Below is a location map and aerial view of Lutheran Cathedral. Using the buttons on the left (or the wheel on your mouse), you can zoom in for a closer look, or zoom out to get your bearings. To move around, click and drag the map with your mouse.