A Church Unlike Any I Have Ever Seen: Temppeliaukio Church in Helsinki

M ention a place of worship in Europe to me; and an ornate building which is centuries old and steeped in history immediately comes to my mind — but what is colloquially known as the Church of the Rock in Helsinki is one religious establishment that completely defies that initial image.

A Church Unlike Any I Have Ever Seen: Temppeliaukio Church in Helsinki

Since I checked out of my stay at the Hilton Helsinki Kalastajatorppa hotel property earlier that morning, I had been outside in the cold weather with light snow persistently falling. Prior to arriving at Temppeliaukio Church — which was on my way to the next hotel property at which I would stay that night — I had already been to Sibelius Monument and attempted to visit the Tower at Olympic Stadium, which is being renovated and will not open again to the public until the year 2019.

Finding the church was not difficult; but finding the entrance was a little more challenging because I initially arrived from the rear of the church, which looked like nothing more than a mound of rocks on a hill with a dirt path, as seen in photographs included later on in this article.

I paid the nominal admission fee of three euros and was given a small sticker to affix on my clothing; and then I walked into the main area of the church. It was the first time I felt warmth in at least two hours; and I was able to dry off and relax before exploring the interior of the church.

Temppeliaukio Church or Church of the Rock Helsinki

Photograph ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

A man prays alone in silence in one of the pews of Temppeliaukio Church.

Temppeliaukio Church or Church of the Rock Helsinki

Photograph ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

Upon first glance, I noticed that this church is unlike any other which I have ever seen.

Temppeliaukio Church or Church of the Rock Helsinki

Photograph ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

The walls are partly comprised of solid natural rock; and moisture which trickles from the cracks in the rock is channeled away through special ducts which are all along the floor at the edges of the walls.

Temppeliaukio Church or Church of the Rock Helsinki

Photograph ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

Otherwise, the walls are also comprised of rocks and boulders; and the copper roof of the building is buttressed and supported by reinforced concrete beams which diffused the natural light that passed through the windows between them.

Temppeliaukio Church or Church of the Rock Helsinki

Photograph ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

The design of the church lends to some abstract photography.

Temppeliaukio Church or Church of the Rock Helsinki

Photograph ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

This photograph of the right side of the interior of Temppeliaukio Church — which is also known as Temppeliaukion kirkko in Finnish, with kirkko meaning church in English — shows the structure of the wall. It also shows what I believe is the place where people are baptized in this Lutheran church.

Temppeliaukio Church or Church of the Rock Helsinki

Photograph ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

I ventured to the upper level, which gives great views of the interior of the church overall.

Temppeliaukio Church or Church of the Rock Helsinki

Photograph ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

The audiovisual booth is located just behind the upper level of pews.

Temppeliaukio Church or Church of the Rock Helsinki

Photograph ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

More abstract photography of the supports of the roof against the glass windows of the audiovisual booth.

Temppeliaukio Church or Church of the Rock Helsinki

Photograph ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

There are only a few sets of pews on the upper level.

Temppeliaukio Church or Church of the Rock Helsinki

Photographs ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

The photograph on the left shows the passageway behind the church where some items are stored; while the photograph on the right starts the series of photographs of the organ inside of the church.

Temppeliaukio Church or Church of the Rock Helsinki

Photograph ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

The organ is located on the left side of the interior of the church.

Temppeliaukio Church or Church of the Rock Helsinki

Photograph ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

I did not get a chance to hear it; but I was curious as to the acoustics of the interior of the church — which I understand are excellent to the point that concerts occasionally occur inside of the church.

Temppeliaukio Church or Church of the Rock Helsinki

Photograph ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

The pipes of the organ — unlike the ones at the Sibelius Monument earlier that morning — were real…

Temppeliaukio Church or Church of the Rock Helsinki

Photograph ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

…and lent themselves to more abstract photography.

Temppeliaukio Church or Church of the Rock Helsinki

Photograph ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

Urkurakentamo Veikko Virtanen Oy built the organ — which has 43 stops and 3001 pipes — for the church.

Temppeliaukio Church or Church of the Rock Helsinki

Photograph ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

The church was designed by brothers Timo Suomalainen and Tuomo Suomalainen as part of a competition in architecture; and it opened in September of 1969.

Temppeliaukio Church or Church of the Rock Helsinki

Photograph ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

A crevice from the ice age serves as an altar piece.

Temppeliaukio Church or Church of the Rock Helsinki

Photograph ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

Visitors started flowing into the church just prior to me leaving to continue my walk. This photograph shows most of the rear of the interior of the church — including the audiovisual booth above the upper level.

Temppeliaukio Church or Church of the Rock Helsinki

Photograph ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

This entrance is basically the only indication that there is a church located under the mound.

Temppeliaukio Church or Church of the Rock Helsinki

Photograph ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

The copper dome of the church is barely visible above what appears to be a neat pile of rocks and stones.

Temppeliaukio Church or Church of the Rock Helsinki

Photograph ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

This dirt road leads to above the entrance to the church…

Temppeliaukio Church or Church of the Rock Helsinki

Photograph ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

…through which you can see two people about to enter in the lower right corner of the photograph.

Temppeliaukio Church or Church of the Rock Helsinki

Photograph ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

This photograph shows the entrance of the church as viewed from above.

Temppeliaukio Church or Church of the Rock Helsinki

Photograph ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

This photograph was taken above the entrance of the church and viewing towards the copper dome roof, which is not visible.

Temppeliaukio Church or Church of the Rock Helsinki

Photograph ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

This view looking southeast above the entrance to the church shows the intersection of Lutherinkatu with Fredrikin, which is the street that heads off into the distance — and yes, snow was still lightly falling.

Summary

For me, the diffused light from the gloomy day only added to the contemplative mood I felt once inside of the warm church.

Once inside, you can stay as long as you like. The aforementioned sticker should allow you back inside during the same day you paid admission if you need to temporarily leave the church.

Temppeliaukio Church or Church of the Rock
Lutherinkatu 3, 00100 Helsinki
+358 (0)9 2340 6320 Telephone
+358 (0)9 2340 5940 Bulletin telephone

Entrance fee is three euros per person except for members of Töölö parish, children younger than 18 years of age; and people who have a valid Helsinki Card — all of whom enjoy free admission.

Open hours are according to activities — listen to the bulletin telephone. Last entrance into the church is at ten minutes before closing time. Mass is celebrated at 10:00 in the morning every Sunday morning; and on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, there is a short prayer at noon which is recited in English.

All photographs ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

5 thoughts on “A Church Unlike Any I Have Ever Seen: Temppeliaukio Church in Helsinki”

  1. Kare says:

    Wonderful, beautiful photos. You have really captured the essence of the church. I have been there and was fortunate to attend a concert. The acoustics are lovely.
    My pictures not so much.

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      Thank you so much for your comment pertaining to the photographs, Kare.

      What type of concert did you attend at the church?

      1. Kare says:

        Piano and violin

        1. Brian Cohen says:

          That must have been amazing, Kare!

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