Helsinki, Finland

Helsinki harbor. Photo Creative Commons License Claudio Alejandro Mufarrege.

The city of Helsinki, on the tip of southern Finland, was founded in 1550 on orders of the Swedish king Gustavus Vasa. Surrounded by water on three sides, Helsinki was one of the world's first planned cities and is noted for its 19th-century neoclassical architecture. Because the city is relatively compact, most of it can be explored on foot. Helsinki has a number of unique and interesting churches to explore. The Lutheran Cathedral stands in neoclassical grandeur over Senate Square, while the red-brick Uspenski Orthodox Cathedral brings a touch of Russia to the city. The tall spires of the Johanneskirkko are prominent on the skyline. And then there is the Rock Church — a fascinating feat of modern architecture built almost entirely underground.

Uspenski Cathedral
The largest Orthodox church in western Europe, Uspenski has a striking red-brick exterior and beautiful icons inside. Built in 1868, it is a cathedral of the Finnish Orthodox Church.
Temppeliaukio Kirkko (Rock Church)
Completed in 1969, this is a spectacular underground church built into a massive block of natural granite. it is an active church and a popular venue for classical concerts.
Lutheran Cathedral
This striking neoclassical cathedral dominates Helsinki's city center. Completed in 1852, it was called St. Nicholas' Church until Finnish independence in 1917.