Sibelius, a Rock Church and a Market

I wasn’t sure what to expect of Helsinki, Finland. Some reviews I read said to skip the city and just visit the outdoor markets. Ouch. I found Helsinki to be smaller than expected, but still lovely. Would have liked a bit more time to photograph the architecture.

Just outside the city, we stopped to see the Sibelius monument. I’m not a fan of abstract art, so was kind of underwhelmed. What do you think?


The monument was designed by Eila Hiltunen and unveiled in 1967. More than 600 hollow steel pipes welded together in a wave pattern are supposed to represent the music of Sibelius.

Our next stop was Temppeliaukio Church, or “Church of the Rock.” Literally built into, and composed of, rock. Not much to look at from the outside, but quite striking inside:


My first foray into using the panoramic feature on my iPhone. Not sure if I’ll be using it much.


A closer look at the altar. This is a Lutheran church in the TΓΆΓΆlΓΆ neighborhood. The church was designed by architects and brothers Timo and Tuomo Suomalainen and opened in 1969.


I thought the copper ceiling was very cool.


I’m guessing that’s copper banding on the balcony too.


The church organ, which has 43 stops and 3001 pipes.


A look back at the entrance.

Interesting tidbit: the rock walls were not included in the original plans, because the Suomalainen brothers thought the concept too radical. But when conductor Paavo Berglund shared his knowledge of acoustics from some of the best music halls and the acoustical engineer Mauri Parjo gave requirements for the wall surfaces, the architects discovered that they could meet all the requirements for the acoustics by leaving the rock walls exposed. Who knew?

After viewing the church we walked down to Market Square, a great outdoor market. The produce was fantastic:



Not sure if you can tell from this photo, but those cherries were huge.




Love the apricots.


Not your everyday run-of-the-mill swap meet offerings.


Beautiful, but I just couldn’t buy them.

I’ll share some of the architecture of Helsinki next time.


About pearlsandprose

Photography. With a little life thrown in.
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16 Responses to Sibelius, a Rock Church and a Market

  1. Ms. Spock says:

    A very striking and unusual church. Quite an education here!

  2. Caroline says:

    I remeber my father telling me how astonsihed he was when he saw the size of the vegetables and fruit on the market. Why is that I wonder. He saw onions the size of cabagges.
    I’m not always keen on modern art but I have to admit I love that Sibelius monument. It looks like a crossing between an organ and a bees hive. A funny thing. I would haven pictured his music that way though. Yeah well.

    • I have never seen cherries that big, Caroline. We use so many things to create super sized stuff, but our fruit isn’t like that.
      Yes, I thought the monument looked like a church organ too.

  3. Mary Beth says:

    Hope you heard some music in the church Carole – wonderful sound. I actually liked the monument in the park.

  4. Hi Carole,
    Beautiful photos, I enjoyed all of them but the fruits and vegetables look amazing! I haven’t had a real strawberry in years! The ones we find at the supermarket here in Bangkok are huge and look unappetizing, like they’re made of plastic.
    I like the Sibelius monument. It reminds me of stalactites inside a cave.

  5. What is so striking about the church is how light and bright it seems. Churches can have a dark, sometimes claustrophobic, feeling. The use of the different materials — copper, glass, and stone — really makes it unique.

    • Probably the most unique church I’ve seen, Jackie. There are over 150 window panes, which let a lot of natural light in. This was an overcast day, so you can imagine what it’s like when the sun is out.

  6. TBM says:

    That is an unusual church. Not sure how I feel about the abstract art. Knowing what it symbolizes help, but if I just wandered by I think I would be wondering, what the. Are the cherries on steroids?

  7. Sartenada says:

    Very beautiful set of photos. One of my favorite Place in Helsinki is the Rock Church.

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