Top Historic Sights in Helsinki, Finland

Explore the historic highlights of Helsinki

Senate Square

Senate Square (Senaatintori) presents Carl Ludvig Engel's architecture as a unique allegory of political, religious, scientific and commercial powers in the centre of Helsinki. It has been the centrum of Helsinki since the city was established in 1640. Russians destroyed Helsinki entirely during the Great Northern War (1713-1721).When the Finland became an autonomous part of Russia in 1812, the capital was moved from Turk ...
Founded: 1816-1852 | Location: Helsinki, Finland

Helsinki Cathedral

Helsinki Cathedral is a distinct landmark in the scenery of central Helsinki, with a tall green dome surrounded by four smaller domes. It was built in 1830–1852 in neoclassical style to replace an earlier church from 1727. The cathedral was designed by Carl Ludvig Engel, to form the climax of the whole Senate Square laid out by Engel, surrounded by a number of buildings all designed by him.Today the cathedral is one ...
Founded: 1830-1852 | Location: Helsinki, Finland

Havis Amanda

Havis Amanda is a nude female statue sculpted by Ville Vallgren (1855-1940). He made it 1906 in Paris, but was not erected at its present location at the Market Square in Kaartinkaupunki until 1908. Havis Amanda is one of Vallgren's Parisian Art Nouveau works. She is a mermaid who stands on seaweed as she rises from the water, with four fish spouting water at her feet and surrounded by four sea lions. She is depicted ...
Founded: 1906 (erected 1908) | Location: Helsinki, Finland

Presidential Palace

To the north of Kauppatori Square stands the Presidential Palace, one of C. L. Engel’s grand neo-classical buildings. Originally at the beginning of 19th century, a salt storehouse stood on the site. The entire lot was bought by merchant Johan Henrik Heidenstrauch who built the first palace in 1820. He had to sell it to the senate of Finland in 1837 and the building was moved to the official residence of the Tsar or Rus ...
Founded: 1816-1845 | Location: Helsinki, Finland

Ateneum Art Museum

Ateneum is the national gallery of Finland presenting the most important art collection in Finland. Ateneum's collections includes several classics from most well-known Finnish artists like Akseli Gallen-Kallela, Helene Schjerfbeck and Albert Edefelt. There is also a fine collection of international art, among its gems the works of Vincent van Gogh and Paul Gauguin.The museum building itself was designed by Theodor H& ...
Founded: 1887 | Location: Helsinki, Finland

Uspenski Cathedral

Uspenski Cathedral is an Eastern Orthodox cathedral dedicated to the Dormition of the Theotokos (the Virgin Mary). The cathedral was designed by the Russian architect Alexey Gornostaev (1808–1862), but it was built after his death in 1862-1868. It was made of bricks brought mainly from Bomarsund fortress in Åland which had been destroyed during the Crimean War in 1854.Uspenski cathedral represents the Slavonic architec ...
Founded: 1862-1868 | Location: Helsinki, Finland

Hakasalmi Villa

Hakasalmi Villa was built in 1843 by the procurator and privy counsellor Carl Johan Walleen as a combined city and country residence. The architect was E.B. Lohrmann from Berlin. Two wings were added to the front of the main building in 1847, the north one served as a bakery and the south one as a greenhouse. The villa was surrounded by a large English garden.The municipality of Helsinki bought Hakasalmi from Aurora Karam ...
Founded: 1843 | Location: Helsinki, Finland

The National Museum of Finland

The National Museum of Finland presents Finnish history from the Stone Age to the present day, through objects and cultural history. The permanent exhibitions of the National Museum are divided into six parts. The Treasure Troves presents the collections of coins, medals, orders and decorations, silver, jewellery and weapons. Prehistory of Finland is the largest permanent archeological exhibition in Finland. The Realm pre ...
Founded: 1905-1910 | Location: Helsinki, Finland

Parliament House

Since 1907 the Parliament of Finland was convened in House of the Estates and Finnish House of Nobility. Both buildings became however too small for the 200 members of the independent Finland Parliament. In 1923 a competition was held to choose a site for a new Parliament House. Arkadianmäki, a hill beside what is now Mannerheimintie, was chosen as the best site.The architectural competition which was held in 1924 wa ...
Founded: 1926-1931 | Location: Helsinki, Finland

Olympic Stadium

The story of Olympic Stadium began in 1927, when City of Helsinki and several sport associations created the Stadium Foundation. The purpose of foundation was to build an adequate venue for the summer olympics. Construction of the Olympic Stadium began in 1934 and it was completed in 1938. It was designed in functionalistic style by the architects Yrjö Lindegren and Toivo Jäntti.The stadium was built to host the ...
Founded: 1934-1938 | Location: Helsinki, Finland

Temppeliaukio Church

Quarried out of the natural bedrock, The Temppeliaukio church is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city; half a million people visit it annually. The interior walls are created naturally by the rock. The church was designed by architects Timo and Tuomo Suomalainen and opened in 1969. The interior was excavated and built into the rock but is bathed in natural light entering through the glazed dome. Due to ...
Founded: 1969 | Location: Helsinki, Finland

Suomenlinna

Suomenlinna ("Sveaborg", "Viapori") sea fortress is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of Finland’s most popular tourist attractions. The construction of the fortress started by the king of Sweden in 1748 as protection against Russian expansionism. Suomenlinna was planned to be a principal base for naval military operations and the general responsibility for the fortification work was given to Augustin Ehrensvärd. Th ...
Founded: 1748-1917 | Location: Helsinki, Finland

The Old Church

The old church of Helsinki was designed by famous architect C. L. Engel and completed in 1826. It was originally mentioned to be temporary church for the construction time of new cathedral in Senate Square. When the old Ulrika Eleonora Church was demolished, the recovered building materials and part of the movables were auctioned but some of the furnishings including the pulpit, benches and chandeliers as well as the org ...
Founded: 1826 | Location: Helsinki, Finland

Sibelius Monument

The Sibelius monument was designed by Eila Hiltunen and completed in 1967. It consists of series of more than 600 hollow steel pipes welded together in a wave-like pattern. The purpose of the artist was to capture the essence of the music of Sibelius. The monument weighs 24 tonnes. It’s probably the most well-known abstract sculpture in Finland and popular tourist attraction.
Founded: 1967 | Location: Helsinki , Finland

St. John's Church

St. John’s Church was built between 1888-1891. It was designed by A. E. Melander, who win the design competition in 1878. St. John’s Church is most remarkable sample of neo-gothic church architecture in Finland. It’s also biggest stone church in Finland with 2600 seats.The twin towers are 74 metres in height, and the church has excellent acoustics. It’s therefore used for big concerts and events as well as service ...
Founded: 1888-1891 | Location: Helsinki, Finland

Observatory Hill

This 30 meters high rock hill was used as guard hill in the Middle Ages. If enemy ships were seen coming from the sea, fire was lighted to the hill to warn local people. After the great fire in Turku (1827), instruments and astronomical books of Turku University observatory were transferred to Helsinki.The Helsinki astronomical observatory was built to the hill in 1834. It designed in cooperation by professor Friedrich Wi ...
Founded: 1834 | Location: Helsinki, Finland

German Church

The neo-gothic German Church was built in 1864 by Harald Bosse and C. J. von Heideken. The tower was added in 1897. It’s popular venue for weddings and concerts.
Founded: 1864 | Location: Helsinki, Finland

Kallio Church

The spectacular Kallio church, designed by Lars Sonck and built in 1908–1912, represents the Finnish national romantic school of architecture, as well as a change to Art Nouveau. The bells of the tower play a melody composed by Jean Sibelius. Inside the church are numerous interesting details such as a crucifix and relief made by sculptor Hannes Autere.In the beginning of independent Finland Tolstoyan movement took ...
Founded: 1908-1912 | Location: Helsinki, Finland

Hietaniemi Cemetery

The Hietaniemi cemetery is the location for Finnish state funeral services and most remarkable cemetery in Finland. The cemetery was placed to Hietaniemi in 1829. It was originally a military cemetery for the Finnish Guard, which was part of the Russian army.The cemetery includes still a large military cemetery section for soldiers from the capital fallen in the wars against the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany: in the Winte ...
Founded: 1829 | Location: Helsinki, Finland

Military Museum of Finland

The Military Museum of Finland was earlier located in a garrison building designed by Evert Lagerspetz in 1883. This site was closed in 2016.
Founded: 1883 (Museum opened in 1948) | Location: Helsinki, Finland

Seurasaari Open-Air Museum

Seurasaari is a museum island, which consists of old, mainly wooden buildings transplanted from elsewhere in Finland and placed in the dense forest landscape of the island. The Open-Air Museum was founded in 1909. All the different provinces of Finland are represented in the well preserved old buildings and they give an overall view of Finnish countryside life from the 18th to the 20th century. At present, there are 87 se ...
Founded: 1909 | Location: Helsinki, Finland

St. Henry's Cathedral

St. Henry's Cathedral is dedicated to Henry, Bishop of Uppsala. It was constructed between 1858–1860. The architecture of the church is Gothic Revival with statues of Saint Henry, Saint Peter and Saint Paul decorating the exterior. Since Finland is predominantly Lutheran, the church was intended primarily for use by Catholic foreigners. The church is the main Catholic church in Helsinki, and offers Mass in many ...
Founded: 1858-1860 | Location: Helsinki, Finland

Tamminiemi

Tamminiemi villa was one of the official residences of the President of Finland from 1940 until 1981. From that date, until his death, it served as the residence of President Urho Kekkonen. Designed by architects Sigurd Frosterus and Gustaf Strengell, the jugendstil villa was built in 1903 for the Danish-born businessman Jörgen Nissen. The villa was later owned or rented by a number of individuals, before being acqui ...
Founded: 1903 | Location: Helsinki, Finland

Herttoniemi Manor Museum

The history of Herttoniemi Manor dates back to the 16th century. The Herttoniemi area is probably named after Laurens Hertoghe who might have been the first owner of the manor. The heyday was in the late 1700’s, when the manor was owned by Augustin Ehrensvärd. He led the construction of Suomenlinna fortress. The present main building originates from the beginning of 19th century, when the manor was owned by ad ...
Founded: 19th century | Location: Helsinki, Finland

Tuomarinkylä Manor Museum

The history of Tuomarinkylä Manor dates back to the 15th century. The present main manor house was built around 1790. Today the main building is a museum and there’s also a horse farm and restaurant. The fairly small museum has eight room carefully restored in the style of different periods over the last two hundred years.
Founded: ca. 1790 | Location: Helsinki, Finland

Vartiokylä Hill Fort

Vartiokylä hill fort is one of the most prominent historic sites from the age before Helsinki city was established. The fortification dates from the 13th and 14th centuries and it has been in use only for a short period. It is unknown who built it but probably the hill was fortified by Swedish-speaking settlers, crown or some local noble (like Bo Jonsson Grip). During the first World War Russians built trenches to Varti ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Helsinki, Finland

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Hochosterwitz Castle

Hochosterwitz Castle is considered to be one of Austria's most impressive medieval castles. The rock castle is one of the state's landmarks and a major tourist attraction.

The site was first mentioned in an 860 deed issued by King Louis the German of East Francia, donating several of his properties in the former Principality of Carantania to the Archdiocese of Salzburg. In the 11th century Archbishop Gebhard of Salzburg ceded the castle to the Dukes of Carinthia from the noble House of Sponheim in return for their support during the Investiture Controversy. The Sponheim dukes bestowed the fiefdom upon the family of Osterwitz, who held the hereditary office of the cup-bearer in 1209.

In the 15th century, the last Carinthian cup-bearer, Georg of Osterwitz was captured in a Turkish invasion and died in 1476 in prison without leaving descendants. So after four centuries, on 30 May 1478, the possession of the castle reverted to Emperor Frederick III of Habsburg.

Over the next 30 years, the castle was badly damaged by numerous Turkish campaigns. On 5 October 1509, Emperor Maximilian I handed the castle as a pledge to Matthäus Lang von Wellenburg, then Bishop of Gurk. Bishop Lang undertook a substantial renovation project for the damaged castle.

About 1541, German king Ferdinand I of Habsburg bestowed Hochosterwitz upon the Carinthian governor Christof Khevenhüller. In 1571, Baron George Khevenhüller acquired the citadel by purchase. He fortified to deal with the threat of Turkish invasions of the region, building an armory and 14 gates between 1570 and 1586. Such massive fortification is considered unique in citadel construction.

Since the 16th century, no major changes have been made to Hochosterwitz. It has also remained in the possession of the Khevenhüller family as requested by the original builder, George Khevenhüller. A marble plaque dating from 1576 in the castle yard documents this request.

A specific feature is the access way to the castle passing through a total of 14 gates, which are particularly prominent owing to the castle's situation in the landscape. Tourists are allowed to walk the 620-metre long pathway through the gates up to the castle; each gate has a diagram of the defense mechanism used to seal that particular gate. The castle rooms hold a collection of prehistoric artifacts, paintings, weapons, and armor, including one set of armor 2.4 metres tall, once worn by Burghauptmann Schenk.