The most visited church in Finland
This building you can not see from afar. It is hidden in the middle of the usual metropolitan residential area. But the panoramic view from above on this temple is amazing and resembles a scene from the film by Steven Spielberg.
The Temppeliaukio Church, carved into the rock, is located in the center of Helsinki, next to Fredrikinkatu Street. Due to the unique architectural solution, the church built in 1969 is considered one of the main attractions of the Finnish capital. The dome of the church hall lies on reinforced concrete ceilings immured in a rock, the top is covered with copper plates. The inner walls are rough rocks and masonry from large boulders. In the morning, the sun's rays penetrate through the spiral window and illuminate the space behind the altar, turning the rocky cleft of the Ice Age into a kind of altar picture.
The rocky site located on Fredrikinkatu Street was set aside for the construction of the temple in 1906, when the first development plan was approved for the Arcadia district, now this Eto-Tölyo.In 1931, the church council petitioned to receive from the city of the site, called Temppeliaukio (Temple Square), for the construction on it of the main church of the independent parish, Tetu-Tölyo.
The architectural competition for the construction of a new church was held in 1932. Dissatisfied with the result of the competition, the jury announced a new competition in 1936. The project started in 1939 by Professor Johan Siegfried Siren, who took third place in the competition, put into practice. After the war, another contest was held, which was won in 1961 by the brothers-architects Timo and Tuomo Suomalainen. According to their plan, the rock should have remained intact, and the church hall should have been placed inside the rock, surrounding it with other communal premises.
Public opinion was quite sharply opposed to the plan. In newspaper articles, the project was called a mosque in the rock, a millionth church, and even a bunker to protect against the devil. Many wanted to see not the avant-garde building, but a traditional temple. Activists of the Christian Association of Students, who considered the construction of a church in the then international situation an immoral matter, in July 1968 expressed their protest by writing the word Biafra 11 times on the concrete details of the building.The first graffiti in Finland became a requirement to transfer money going to build a church to the victims of the famine that swept the people of Nigeria after the Biafra civil war. Received the stigma of an expensive and pretentious project, the construction of the temple cost, in the end, a moderate amount - four million marks.
The Taivallahden Kirkko Church opened its doors in September 1969. In 1971, its name was officially changed to Temppeliaukion Kirkko Church. Already in the autumn, the number of church visitors exceeded 100,000, and during church services the hall was regularly filled. The following year, the number of visitors amounted to more than half a million people. The temple became the center of attraction for foreign tourists and the main architectural landmark of Helsinki. The new church was represented in more than two hundred architectural magazines and prestigious museums of the world, and became the only building mentioned in the Italian book series on world attractions “I Cento Monumenti”.
Visitors enter the church hall cut from the rock from street level. The elliptical church hall bathes in waves of light pouring from a strip of windows between a rock wall and a copper dome. The dome is supported by reinforced concrete beams of various lengths.The dome and gallery are covered with copper non-patinated plates. The floor is made of polished concrete, the pulpit and the base of the gallery are of reinforced concrete. Oozing out of rocky faults water is discharged through special channels. The height of the walls is 5–9 meters. The diameter of the dome is 24 meters, the distance from the top of the dome to the floor is 13 meters. The altar picture is a rocky cleft of the ice age. The altar table is made of polished granite.
In the interior designed by the brothers-architects, the shades of Finland’s most common stone, granite, are repeated: red, red-bluish and gray. The benches are made of birch. Crucifixion, candlesticks and font are forged by artist Kauko Moisio. Church textile is designed by textile artist Tellervo Strommer. The organ was manufactured at the Veiko Virtanen Organ Factory, with 43 registers. The appearance of the body was designed by the architects of the church.
The Temppeliaukio Church is a popular venue for concerts and weddings. For the choir, a step podium was built, the orchestra is usually located on the floor. The church in the rock is not equipped with bells.The bell melodies composed by Professor Tanel Kuusisto are transmitted through the speakers placed in the outer rocky wall.
The wall surrounding the church was built of large stones connected by steel ties. The rock design is designed by architect Eric Sommershild.
The church in the rock is famous for its unique acoustics. The famous musician Mstislav Rostropovich himself believed that here is the best acoustics in the world.
Thanks to its acoustics, concerts of organ and classical music are often held in the church. And sometimes - even concerts of metal bands. Apparently, in this way, clergymen are trying to introduce youth to religion. Indeed, in the church not ordinary songs are performed, but fragments of the Lutheran liturgy. Most performances are free.
The church and its community premises are used by the Finnish-speaking parish of Töölö.
In 2004, the church was taken under protection and declared a monument of architecture.
Address: Lutherinkatu 3.
Opening hours: Mon and Wed 10: 00-17: 00; Tue 10: 00-12: 45 and 14: 15-17: 00; Thu-10: 00-20: 00; Sat 10: 00-18: 00, Sun 11: 45-13: 45 and 15: 30-18: 00.