The Church of Rock

When my Italian teacher moved to Finland she was amazed at the austerity of the churches. Where, she wondered, were the statues, the golden altars, the ornate candelabra? Welcome, teacher, to the Protestant church.

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Although many churches here do hold those features, there are others that are standouts solely for their architectural design. Which can be a welcome relief for those suffering ‘cathedral fatigue.’

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If you make it to Helsinki, I would recommend visiting both the Chapel of Silence and Temppeliaukio (Rock Church).

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Temppeliaukio was designed by architects Timo and Tuomo Suomalainen and opened in 1969. Their vision was to carve the chapel straight out of the rock it sits on; a vision that was met with some resistance.

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Once dubbed ‘a devil defence bunker’ it is now one of Helsinki’s most visited sites and was made a protected building in 2004.

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Its huge copper dome is supported by large concrete beams that allow the light to shine in and illuminate the chapel.

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There are places where you can burn a candle for a loved one and the great acoustics mean it is a popular place for orchestral practice sessions.

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The neighbouring apartments in Töölö wrap themselves around the church and there are good cafes nearby.

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Within walking distance of the city centre, there is always room inside to sit upon arrival and rest your feet. Which, on a snowy Helsinki day like today, means this really is a church that rocks.

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Temppeliaukio

Lutherinkatu 3, Helsinki 00100