Monday, 21 April 2008

Helsinki: the Senate Square

No, I have neither fallen off the earth nor been to Paris. I had, however, a very nasty case of flu :(, which means there has not been much cooking or baking been done in my kitchen lately...

Before the flu I spent some time one sunny Saturday evening photographing the buildings around the Senate Square in the city centre. I hope you enjoy this "virtual visit" to my home city. If you want to learn more about the architecture of these buildings or the history of the square, you will find some useful links at the end of my post.

The picture above shows the most impressive of the neoclassical buildings around the Senate Square: The Lutheran Cathedral (built 1830-1852). Below is another view of the cathedral. The statue of Alexander II Tzar of Russia and Grand Duke of Finland from 1855 to 1881 stands in the center of the square.

Opposite the Lutheran Cathedral on the other side of the square there is a fine row of beautiful buildings from the 18th and 19th centuries including the blue Sederholm's house, an old merchant's house, in the left corner of the picture below. It is the oldest stone building in Helsinki and was built in 1757. It was once the finest privately owned house in Helsinki. Today the building holds Helsinki City Museum's special exhibitions.
On the other end of the picture in the yellow building is one of my favorite cafés: Café Engel. The café is named after architect C. L. Engel who designed many of the buildings around the square (including the cathedral).

Left from the cathedral there is the old senate building, now the Government Palace. It, too, was designed by Engel.

Opposite the Government Palace is the University of Helsinki main building and next to it the beautiful National Library, both of which were designed by Engel.

Chronology of Finnish History on Virtual Finland
History and architecture of the National Library
Panorama tour of the Senate Square
Another panorama of the Senate Square
Main building of the University of Helsinki
Helsinki Cathedral from Wikipedia