One nice thing about Helsinki was that it was essentially a blank slate for me: I traveled there because it was an easy trip from Norway, and not because I set out in search of something specific. As a result, there was plenty of room for Helsinki to surprise me, and it more than rose to the challenge; I wound up loving city. One of the things that most delighted me about Helsinki was its magnificent cathedrals, each different, but each noteworthy in its own right.
I’m quite certain I’ve written about “church fatigue” many times in this space before, and it’s something that often strikes me in Europe: the sense that I could not possibly stand to tour yet another church because they’re actually not that different. But church fatigue never struck in Helsinki, because all the cathedrals in fact were that different. First up in this church parade was Helsinki Cathedral, which was quite a sight: a gigantic, stark white building with gorgeous green domes. My exact reaction as I turned the corner and caught a glimpse of the cathedral towering above Senate Square? I laughed. Are you kidding me?!?!, I thought. This is just too good.
Next was Uspenski Cathedral, an Eastern Orthodox church which I found memorable for its Russianness. Seeing Moscow’s St. Basil’s Cathedral is one for my bucket list, but since that trip hasn’t happened quite yet, this was a great substitute. Perched on a hill, Uspenski is an impressive building from the outside, but even more so from the inside: blinged out, gilded, gorgeous – the works.
Finally, I visited Temppeliaukio, or the Church in the Rock, whose name gives it away: it’s literally built into a rock, and the architecture of the place is stunning. This church was unlike anything I had ever seen before, and I was blown away by the creative, cool structure. It was awesome to see something so different for once.
After visiting Helsinki’s three most picturesque cathedrals, I was impressed: I never found myself bored even once, and I found it difficult to play favorites and pick which one I had liked best of all. Each was well worth the visit.