From the east part of Kauppatori you will notice a church on a hill behind the ugly white building (pic 2). It’s Uspenski cathedral, a beautiful eastern orthodox church dedicated to Dormition (uspenie in old church Slavic dialect) of Theotokos.
It was designed by Alexey Gornostaev (1808-62) but was actually built after his death between 1862 and 1868. The church looks impressive as you approach it because it stands upon a hillside (and once there you’ll have great views over market square) but it’s huge anyway, they say the biggest orthodox church in western Europe. Along with a group of tourists from Japan we tried to get inside but we couldn’t find any unlocked door. So I just walked around disappointed that couldn't check the interior which suppose to be very nice with many valuable icons etc
At the back of the cathedral I noticed the plaque that commemorates the Russian emperor Alexander II (pic 5), I know… who cares…
The Uspenski Orthodox Cathedral is absolutely one of the most striking buildings in Helsinki. It's a church made of brick, situated on the peninsula Katajanokka (in Swedish "Skatudden") in downtown Helsinki. It's very beautiful both outside and inside. The church is the biggest orthodox church in West Europe and it was built in 1868. With over half a million tourists every year is it the second most visited church in Helsinki, after Temppeliaukio church. Even more visitors than the famous white Cathedral of Helsinki. I really recommend you to visit this beautiful and famous building of Helsinki, it's definitely worth it!
Opening hours vinter time: Monday: closed, Tuesday-Friday : 09:30-16:00 (Tuesday 09:30-18), Saturday: 09:30-14:00, Sunday: 12:00-15:00
Opening hours summer time (1 May-30 September): Monday-Saturday: 09:30-16:00 (Tuesday 09:30-18:00), Sunday: 12:00-15:00
You enter for free to the church.
Since visiting Helsinki, I have come to consider the Uspenski Cathedral Helsinki's most notable landmark. It is probably the most ornate piece of architecture on the Helsinki skyline with its Russian Byzantine architecture of the Uspenski Cathedral. The cathedral sits on a rocky outcrop of the Katajanokka Peninsula. Our tour did not include the Uspenski Cathedral, and so I did not get info. about the cathedral while in Helsinki, but learned a lot after I had returned from our visit there.
Designed by architect, A.M. Gornastayev, the cathedral was consecrated in 1868. Standing in stark contract to the virtually all white facade of the Lutheran Cathedral in Senate Square, the red brick Uspenski Cathedral is considered the largest Orthodox Cathedral in Western Europe. Special features of the cathedral are its 13 golden cupolas or onion domes representing Christ and the 12 apostles. The opulent interior is a showcase for religious art and icons. Afterall, the cathedral is highly representative of the time when Finland was an autonomous Grand Duchy of Russia.
The cathedral can be seen and reached from the Market Square, harbor and Esplanade. Unfortunately, we didn't have enough time to go inside the cathedral on our own two feet, and I only saw its exterior up close from the tour bus and could not even get a passable photo of it. However, if I had the choice again and had a limited amount of time, I would definitely opt for the Uspenski Cathedral rather than the Lutheran Cathedral whose interior I thought was rather sparse and plain. Admission to both cathedrals is free.
The cathedral is closed on Mondays and holidays, except for regular services.
The cathedral is open to the public on Tuesdays - Fridays: 0930 - 1600 hrs. (9:30 am - 4:00pm)
Saturdays: 0930 - 1400 hrs. (9:30am - 2:00pm)
Sundays: 12 noon - 1500 (12 -3pm)
Designed by Alexey Gornostaev, the architect did not live long enough to complete even see the beginning of the construction. He died in 1862, the year the founding stone was set. The church was consecrated in 1868 and is the largest Russian Orthodox church in Western Europe, some even say outside of Russia. Its 13 domes represent Christ and the apostles and each of them is covered in 24 carat gold. Inside, a large collection of icons is shown to the visitors.
Be aware that this is one of the most visited sights in Helksinki and that it can get pretty full in there. As it is located on a hill, you can have a good view over Helsinki from the pace in front of the church. Entry to the Cathedral is free.
This church is absolutely awesome indoors compared to what it looks like from outside. I recommend everyone to have a peek inside.
The Orthodox faith is the earliest form of Christianity to arrive in Finland. It spread to southern Finland through trade and other contacts with the East. After the Finland's independence, Orthdox churches were granted the status of the 2nd national church. Since then the services have been conducted in Finnish.
The Uspenski Cathedral is the largest of its kind in Western Europe. It was designed by Aleksei Gornostajev and styled after a 16th century church in Kolomenskoje, near Moscow. The word Uspenski derives from a Slavic word 'uspenie', which means dying whilst sleeping. The cathedral is dedicated to Virgin Mary and it celebrates its festal day on 15 August, the day she died.
The cathedral is constructed of red bricks brought from Bomarsund fortress in Aland, destroyed during the Crimean War. It was consecrated in 1868 and is set upon a hillside overlooking the city. The shape of the building symbolises the Holy Spirit who descended upon the apostles during Pentecost. The 13 golden onions represent the Christ and the apostles. The dome is held by 4 monolithic granite pillars. It is blue with stars on it. Unlike the Western world’s churches that were built towards the heaven, Orthodox churches are seen as descending down to earth from heaven. I think this is rather endearing!
There are only a few chairs inside the church, since the congregation stands during the services. The altar is positioned behind the wall of iconic pictures (Iconostasis) and it symbolises the heaven. Icons portray holy people and scenes from the bible. Each icon is dedicated a special day in the Orthodox liturgical year.
There is also a chapel in the Cathedral, dedicated to Father Aleksander Hotovitski, murdered in 1937. The crypt chapel is the place for post-service coffee and hosts many exhibitions and events open for the public.
1st Oct - 30 April Tue-Fri 9.30-16, Sat 9.30-15, Sun 12-15, Closed on Mondays
1st May - 30 Sept Mon-Fri 9.30-16, Sat 9.30-16, Sun 12-15.
The next stop on my walking tour with Gil was the Orthodox Cathedral. This church, reputed to be the largest Orthodox Church in Western Europe, was designed by Alexei Gornostaev and completed in 1868. While the church is normally open to the public, it was closed when we visited, presumably for a private function. As a result, we contented ourselves admiring the exterior.
Uspensk Cathedral is dedicated to the Dormition of the Theotokos (the Virgin Mary) and the Finnish name is "Jumalansynnyttäjän kuolonuneen nukkumisen katedraali". It is said to be the biggest orthodox cathedral in North and West Europa (remaining parts are unclear to me let's say it is Big). The name is coming from Slavik world uspenie which means dying or sleeping away.
The architect behind the plans is a Russian church architect Aleksei M. Gornostajev and this has got influences of Kolomenskoje Church close to Moskow. The church was opened 1868
As normal in all Orthodox churches there are no bench inside and there are 13 domes (we are not superstitious) with golden plating (done again 2004 with 24 carat gold and 500 000€ costs).
One of the main icons is Kozeltšan's Mother God which was stolen summer 2010. It was found later close to Turku, it would have been very difficult to sell it, even impossible in Finland. (If you read my Valaam pages, you find a relation to this tip: Valaam's main church was evacuated 1944 and the altar table from Upper Church is located now in Uspenski)
And again normal, the close location to Helsinki center has arisen discussion and problems with Helsinki people. Common thinking is that the church gives a Russian look to the city (hey, remember the senate square and Czar Alexander). In the beginning of 1900 Sveaborg's Orthodox church was destroyed (by removing four of five domes) and changed later to Luteran "having better fit to Finnish". Luckily this church has been leaved to peace and I think (or hope) that that kind of ideas are now history!
Tuesday - Friday: 9:30 - 16:00
Saturday: 9:30 - 14:00
Sunday: 12:00 - 15:00
The interior of Uspenski Cathedral is as impressive as its exterior. It is typical of Russian Orthodox churches, with a central plan and ornate ceilings, topped by a dome. A large display of icons decorates all sides, while impressive chandeliers hang from the vaults and dome.
As its signature Russian-style indicates, the stunning Uspenski Cathedral serves the Orthodox community of Helsinki. It was completed in 1868 with recycled bricks from a fortress destroyed during the Crimean War. The Russian architect who designed it, Aleksei Gornostajev, based his design on 16th century Russian churches, but unfortunately he died before the structure was built. The Uspenski Cathedral is nowadays the seat of the Finnish Orthodox Church, part of the Ecumenical Orthodox Patriarchate based in Constantinople, and is considered the largest Orthodox church structure in the Western world.
The Uspenski Cathedral is the largest orthodox church in Western Europe. I doubt if anybody could miss seeing it, as it really stands out, especially when coming into Helsinki harbour by boat like my husband and I did!
The Russian Orthodox Cathedral is a remnant of Russia left in Finland and is quite a striking church!
The Cathedral, built between 1862 and 1868, was a copy of a 16th century Church near Moscow
The exterior of Uspenski Cathedral is not elaborately decorated, but is quite striking with its deep-red brick walls and green-and-gold onion domes.
There are 13 onion domes in all, representing Christ and the twelve apostles.
If you want to go inside and see the typical Orthodox decorations, including an impressive array of chandeliers hanging from the vaulted ceiling, including icons, one which is believed to work a miracle, make sure to check the opening times.
Open Tu-F 9:30AM-4PM.... Sat 9:30AM-2PM..... Sun 12PM-3PM.
May-Sep ..Mon,Wed, Sat 9:30AM-4PM.... Tue 9:30AM-6PM,....Sun 12PM-3PM.
Uspenski Cathedral was built in the 1860s and is one of the most impressive buildings in Helsinki. It can be easily seen while approaching the city through the Gulf of Finland and it's golden towers can also be spotted from numerous points around town. You'll definitely want to make your way over towards it at some point to get some close up shots of its amazing architecture.
Admission is free when it's open, but it seemed to be closed on the two occasions I went over to see it. Not really sure what the hours are.
The cathedral also sits on a hill and thus gives you some nice views overlooking other parts of town as well.
We walked from our cruise ship and in little less than an hour found ourselves at this gem of a church. Thirteen domes represent Jesus and the Twelve Apostles. Inside is just as enjoyable with the soaring central dome. The view of Helsinki from the site is also impressive. Include this church on your walking tour of Helsinki.
Two magnificent buildings dominate the skyline of central Helsinki.
They are both churches, erected in 1852 and 1868, only 16 years apart.
They stand facing each other, but at a distance.
These are the Finnish Orthodox (previously Russian Orthodox) Uspenski Cathedral and the Tuomiokirkko Lutheran Cathedral.
I liked the comment in the Lonely Planet, that they resemble the two queens on a giant chess board.
To visit them both, one after the other, is an inspiring experience.
The Uspenski cathedral is certainly one of the major landmarks in Helsinki as you will see it when arriving by ship. It sits on top of a small hill and mind you, in winter you want to think twice whether you really want to climb the slippery icy stairs. You better go around the side and use the road.
I've seen the cathedral in sunlight and illuminated in the winter night. The cathedral was inaugurated in 1868 and it's apparently the largest Russian orthodox church in Western Europe.
There are separate summer and winter opening times:
E.g. in winter from 1.10.-30.4. it's closed on Monday. On Sundays the opening times are shortest with 12 am - 3 pm
I went there on a Saturday, around midday, and watched a chanted christening. The vicar, or priest, had a cough, the baby cried when it got dunked, a cross got kissed and an old lady got cross because some of us tourists were ignoring the no photography signs. Great fun for all the family.