We’ve been on a Cultural Walk of the city and I have to say I have been quite impressed with all the activities here! We’re headed to some different avenues now, walking down wide, wide boulevards, that are as spotless as I have ever seen in any city!
We’re coming to a big mound of rocks. What will we find here?
Temppeliaukio Church is a Lutheran Church in the Töölö neighborhood of Helsinki, and is built directly into solid rock. It is also known as the Church of the Rock or Rock Church. This looks very interesting, let’s go inside.
I have decided Helsinki loves architectural competitions! I wonder if that is the way new buildings are still designed here? Please, let me know if you live in Helsinki!
As early as the 1930’s a plot of land was decided upon for a new design for a church. That plan went by the wayside with the outbreak of WWI. After WWII there was another competition to build a church on the original selected site and the design was won by two brothers, Timo Suomalainen and Tuomo Suomalainen in 1961. The original size of the church was scaled back with the interior, one fourth of the original plan. The church was excavated and built directly out of solid rock and its natural light enters through the skylight surrounding the copper dome. The fine acoustics in the church was created by the rough, unworked rock surfaces. The unfinished, rough cut walls were not included in the original competition entry, because the brothers considered the plan too radical. When conductor, Paavo Bergland shared his knowledge of acoustics from some of the best music venues and the acoustical engineer, Mauri Parjo gave some requirements for the wall surfaces, the brothers decided they could leave the walls exposed to get the best acoustical effect. Located in the heart of Helsinki, the church is visited by over half a million people annually. It is one of the most popular sites for tourists, who are interested in architecture, music and the life of the Lutheran Church. The church furnishings were also designed by the architects! I found that very interesting! Let’s look around! Even the church interior reflects wide walking areas, in between the pews and along the sides!
Remember, I said most Lutheran churches in the Baltics are white on the outside and white on the inside with little decor? This one is no exception! But, the magenta pink and sailboat blue sure adds a pop of color!
Here is another look at the copper roof……….and the skylights……..
The organ builder was Veikko Virtanen. The organ has 3001 pipes and 43 stops. There are no bells at the church, but a recording of bells composed by Taneli Kuusisto, is played on loudspeakers on the exterior wall. But, before the church was completed it was making headlines…….
On the night of July 16 and 17th, 1968, a group of Christian students painted in large letters “BIAFRA” in several places on the exterior walls. They wanted to bring attention to the famine going on in Biafra, which had declared independence from Nigeria in 1967. The students believed that the money spent on the new lavish church could be better spent on aid to Biafra. Times never change do they? I had to look up and see what happened to Biafra. It existed as a state in West Africa, from May 1967 to January 1970 after declaring its independence from Nigeria. What resulted was a civil war between the two countries. Many churches recognized the need for help, including Joint Church Aid, Holy Ghost Fathers of Ireland and the Catholic Relief Services. Also, Doctors Without Borders responded to the suffering from starvation caused by the total blockade by the Nigerian and British governments. The country collapsed due to economic, ethnic, cultural and religious tensions among the various peoples occupying the land and that tension remains today.
Leaving the church we are headed for Sibelius Park. What will we see there? What are these?
This monument consisting of 600 hollow steel pipes welded together in a wave-like pattern, is a sculpture by artist Eila Hiltunen and is titled, Passio Musicae. The sculpture won a competition ( another one) organized by the Sibelius Society, following the death of Sibelius in 1957. Johan Julius Christian Sibelius was a Finnish composer and violinist of the Romantic and early-modern periods. He is widely recognized as Finland’s greatest composer and is credited with helping to develop a national identity for Finland in it’s struggle to break away from Russia. I have talked about this struggle in previous posts.
This design won after an early winner was abandoned, but this sculpture too came under fire. There were lively debates about the merits and flaws of abstract art and the fact that this sculpture looked like organ pipes. (which it does) Sibelius never created music for organs, so this seemed to be a big problem for many Sibelius enthusiasts. Hiltunen addressed the critics by adding the face of the composer beside the main sculpture! This monument weighs 24 long tons and measures 28 feet by 34 feet by 21 feet. You can’t miss it, from this way!
It’s getting bigger and bigger…….
and up close……….
And, the head to make everyone happy………..but what is all that silver stuff around it? Leaves, a tooth? Another something to think about……..
Let’s take one last walk around the water before we return to the ship…………
Taking in the café and the canoes…….the tranquility and peacefulness…….
and the folks enjoying the park……….
But, we must go…….We will certainly miss Helsinki! There is so much to see and do in this city. From the museums, monuments and parks, that are a delight because they are easy to walk to, to the small villages, just outside the city, it was special. We learned so much and the city was SO CLEAN AND HEALTHY FEELING! I can’t say that enough! The Finnish people have a lot to be proud of!
That finishes our tour of Finland. Next, we will meet up in Riga, Latvia! See you there!