28.12.10 – Almost everyone who has visited Helsinki is familiar with Uspenski Cathedral and the Helsinki Cathedral which are both distinctive landmarks and situated in the city center. Temppiliaukion kirkko, or Rock church, is also well-known for its distinctive architecture. One of my favorite churches is Johanneksenkirkko, a Lutheran church, built in the late 1800s, which is located just a couple of blocks from where I live. I had never heard about the church before I moved to Helsinki, it’s not exactly a major tourist attraction, but luckily I stumbled upon the neighborhood early on and it still remains one of my favorite places to be in the city.
St. John’s Church was built between 1888 and 1893 by a Swedish architect in the Gothic Revival style. It’s the largest stone church in Helsinki with twin spires rising 243 feet (74 meters) into the Finnish blue sky. I often use the spires for guidance when I’m lost in and around my neighborhood. If I see two spires it’s St. John’s and if I see one spire it’s Mikael Agricolan Kirkko.
I often go out of my way just to pass by the church and its surrounding park. On the day I shot these pictures, I had just finished a late lunch with some friends and I was walking home. It gets dark early these days, usually around 4PM, and the church was almost radiating reddish light as the daylight faded rapidly. There’s a field to one side of the church which is usually busy with a couple of football/soccer games in the warmer months but now has an ice rink. On the backside of the church there is a small steep hill where little kids were careening down on sleds, slamming into snow banks at the bottom, the whole time hooting and hollering. It’s nice to experience the peaceful solitude of a religious landmark and the youthful joy for life peacefully coexisting. This is something Finland does very well.
- Mikael Agricolan Kirkko (tbeidler.wordpress.com)
- The Helsinki Lamentation Choir (guardian.co.uk)
- Your Parish Church Should Look This Good (suburbanbanshee.wordpress.com)
- Five tallest churches in the world (evilsunday.com)