Senate Square

Helsinki, Finland

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 Turku to Helsinki. This started a massive construction programme to enhance the cityscape of Helsinki. The responsibility of the new design was given to German architect Carl Ludvig Engel. He decided that all buildings surrounding the old main square should be reconstructed to solid neoclassical ensemble. Many old buildings were demolished including the church of Ulrika Eleonora.

The Palace of the Council of State was completed on the eastern side of the Senate Square in 1822. The main University building, on the opposite side of the Senate Square, was constructed in 1832. The Helsinki Cathedral on the northern edge of the Senate Square was Engel's lengthiest architectural project. He was working on it from 1818 until his death in 1840. The Helsinki Cathedral — then called the Church of St. Nicholas — dominates the Senate Square, and was finalized twelve years afters Engel's death, in 1852.

A statue of Emperor Alexander II is located in the center of the square. The statue, erected in 1894, was built to commemorate his re-establishment the Diet of Finland in 1863, as well as his initiation of several reforms that increased Finland's autonomy from Russia. The statue comprises Alexander on a pedestal surrounded by figures representing the law, culture and the peasants.

Today, the Senate Square is one of the main tourist attractions of Helsinki. Various art happenings, ranging from concerts to snow buildings to controversial snow board happenings, have been set up on the Senate Square. Several buildings near the Senate Square are managed by the government real estate provider, Senate Properties.



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Founded: 1816-1852
Category: Historic city squares, old towns and villages in Finland
Historical period: Russian Grand Duchy (Finland)


4.5/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Albert Vsc (3 months ago)
Main square of Helsinki where you can take pictures or sit on the steps leading to the cathedral enjoying the vibrant atmosphere of the city. Just in front of the cathedral there is the tourist office, located in Aleksanterinkatu 24. The cathedral is beautiful and imposing externally but totally devoid of frescoes internally.
L Scott (4 months ago)
The square and the Helsinki Cathedral are simply breathtaking! It's definitely a "must" if you visit this beautiful city!
Shubham Gupta (4 months ago)
Starting point of all sightseeing activities in Helsinki. Square has many buildings and statues with historical significance.
Jewel Ike-Obioha (7 months ago)
The Christmas market was set up here and it was a good setup with market stalls and lights. The market was a bit too clustered and crowded but generally a very bubbly scene.
Lindsay Oehm (9 months ago)
Senate Square Helsinki has a huge market. Lots of diverse foods and non food items to buy. Out of all the food we had the huge pretzels were the best, so much variety, I had a poppy seed one, if I hadn't eaten before I would have bought another one ???? The Hop on Hop off bus stops there and the tram runs right next to it as well. Well worth a look.
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