The rain was heavy when we woke but not to worry, there are always interesting places to visit in the city even if the sun isn’t shining. Our first stop was at the Temppeliaukio Church also known as the ‘Church in the Rock’ located in the Töölö district in the city centre.
The church opened in 1967 and was built directly into the solid rock. It does not have any church bells but a recording of bells is played by loudspeakers on an exterior wall. The interior is bathed in natural light which enters through the skylight surrounding the central copper dome. The church is frequently used as a concert venue due to its excellent acoustics and I’m aware of this because one of my Finnish teaching colleagues was a member of the Lauttasaari choir and sometimes performed here. From the exterior you wouldn’t realise it was a church at all, except for the cross, but because of the weather I haven’t included a photo from outside.
Still raining heavily, we wandered along to the National Museum of Finland which is located in a delightful granite building from the National Romantic period. At the moment, the building is undergoing external maintenance and is under wraps as you can see from the photo below so I have included a photo of the museum which I took last summer so you can see it at its best (feature photo above).
Going inside, the museum has galleries portraying different periods in Finnish history from ancient times to the modern day. I particularly enjoyed looking at furniture and household items. Just look at these Grandfather and Grandmother clocks, I have never seen the one looking like a woman with her hands on her hips, have you?
There’s much to see in the museum, one gallery relates to the Lutheran Church and there are displays of magnificent pulpits and other church regalia whilst another looks at Finnish costumes over the years. You will also find a museum shop and cafe. Entrance fees are payable except on Friday’s between 4.00 pm and 6.00 pm when there is no charge.
It was then time to stop for lunch and we tucked into bowls of creamy salmon soup served with dark rye bread at a nearby cafe. Sadly no end to the rain showers so we headed to our second museum of the day, the newly opened branch of the Helsinki City Museum near Senate Square. This museum is free to enter and focuses on the city’s origins, growth and development. There’s a studio apartment furnished in the style of the 1940’s, a 1960’s coffee bar with juke box and many vivid photographs taken in bygone days. The ground floor features an interactive wall chart showing how the city has grown, the coming of the railway to the city, and ending with Helsinki as we see it today.
Even if you are not a resident of Helsinki there’s much of interest. On the upper floor there is a temporary exhibition entitled the Museum of Broken Relationships. An unusual topic for a museum but one that provides much to reflect upon. Aspects cover memories of objects that we don’t want to keep but don’t actually discard. One example was a metal whisk which had laid idle in a kitchen drawer for three years because a partner had used it but had long since gone. Interestingly, this gallery was generating a great deal of interest during our visit providing plenty of food for thought.
We returned by metro from Helsinki University station which is accessed by a tunnel hewn out of rock. The walls have been decorated with attractive Finnish designs which I always admire as I pass through this station.
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