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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Details

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

Rating

4.5/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Shamim Ahmed (16 months ago)
Well-known landmark of Helsinki situated in city centre. Great view and panorama if you are standing at the top of those stairs. In winter covered with snow. 2 min walk from Railway station and Bus station.
Rory Sheehan (2 years ago)
Went to see the Christmas markets here and they were great. Atmosphere was a bit low but still good stalls. The view to the cathedral was beautiful and even better at night
Tiina Pelkonen (2 years ago)
A nice scenic spot in the centre of Helsinki. At the moment (Christmas time of 2018) the venue of the traditional st. Thomas Christmas market, which is worth a visit for tourists and locals alike.
Emil Georgiev (2 years ago)
Favorite spot in Helsinki. There were open swimming pools in November 2018. It is wonderful in the summer and spectacular when the see is frozen during the winter. You could jump on the ferry or just walk around. Love you Helsinki.
Lance Rhodes (2 years ago)
Christmas market was really nice. The setting was really beautiful. The outside of the Cathedral was stunning. Only down side was. Don't bother going into the Cathedral as its not worth it. Very white very plan. The only thing with any style or beauty is the organ. Walk in and walk out in five minutes.
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