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Top Rated Attractions in Helsinki

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University of Helsinki (Helsingin Yliopisto)

In 1827 the Turku Academy was moved to Helsinki as the Russians came to power and the capital changed. The Academy needed a place to operate, so C. L. Engel designed a building on one side of the Senate Square; it was completed in 1832. The Academy began its operation and changed its name to the Imperial University. After Finland became independent, the name was changed again, to the University of Helsinki. The yellow main building is a close match to the Senate Building opposite, in dimensions, colour and style. The completion of this building brought the finishing touches to the uniform group of Empirestyle buildings surrounding Senate Square. The University is one of Helsinki's main landmarks. The interiors of the building are very beautiful: the stairwells, stone floors and statues create a balanced but interesting whole. The stunning main festival hall is also a sight to behold. Still, the main reason for admiring this building is its outer form, the sense of balance it creates together with the Senate Building.

Seurasaari Open-Air Museum (Seurasaari)

This open-air museum was founded in 1909 on the popular recreational island of Seurasaari. The permanent exhibition consists of Finnish peasant architecture, including 85 buildings brought from various parts of the country. There are outhouses, swings, church boats, a tar-burning pit and the wooden Karuna church (1686). The founder of the museum, Professor of ethnology Axel Olai Heikel, is buried next to this church. The two-storied building has perfectly preserved interiors. Enjoy wandering about in the woods and the events that are arranged here, notably the traditional midsummer feast. Check website to know more.

Töölö Bay

Töölö Bay and its surroundings form one of Finland's most talked-about and picturesque locations. Some of the area's main sights merge with stunningly beautiful parks to create charming scenery. A stroll around the bay from Linnunlauluntie road right by the railway tracks reveals the timeless old villas at Linnunlaulu. Romantic wooden houses line up the streets and a sandy path leads to a park. On the right is the concrete brilliance of the Helsinginkatu street, on the other side of which lies the City Winter Garden. Sprawling parks such as the Kiasma, Musiikkitalo, and Makasiini form an enchanting mosaic of green, while cultural landmarks such as the National Theatre and Finlandia Hall regale visitors with riveting performances.

Helsinki Cathedral

An imposing religious landmark in the capital city's Senate Square, this Lutheran cathedral is one of Helsinki's most important monument. The majestic outline of its 71 meter central tower illustrates the true glory of the White City of the North. The cathedral was designed by C. L. Engel in 1830; when Engel died in 1840, E. B. Lohrmann took over the supervision and added several touches to the original blueprints, including details in the simple yet beautiful interior. The cathedral was finally completed in 1852, though the famous grand steps would not be added for another 20 years. Despite the western, classical style, the influences of Russia and especially that of Czar Nicholas I are also visible. The Czar also donated the altarpiece, which was the work of Russian artist Von Neff. The cathedral has a high-ceilinged crypt, a venue for exhibitions and concerts, and a café open every summer.

Ateneum

Located in the heart of the city, this museum houses various genres of art including surrealism, expressionism and cubism. It also has a collection of Italian 14th-century pieces. The main emphasis, however, lies on Finnish art from the mid-18th Century to the 1960s; you will find the work of Isak Wacklin, and that of Wäinö Aaltonen, whose statue of Aleksis Kivi stands directly opposite the museum. The museum also boasts of an interesting bookstore and fabulous cafe. Call ahead to know more.

Helsinki University Library

The gorgeous University Library, right next to the main building of the University and the Cathedral, is one of Engel's most beautiful creations, completed in 1844. Large windows soften its yellowandwhite exterior, while trees surround the back of the building, making this one of Helsinki's most endearing sights. The outer wall of the library sports a bronze bust of Czar Alexander I and a plaque commemorating the designers of the old city centre, J. A. Ehrenström and C. L. Engel. The interior of the library building is also spectacular. The old interiors are in good shape, and the current refurbishment process is expected to bring even more of the old lustre back. The main hall with its oldfashioned furnishings and marvellous ceiling frescoes is one of the most admired interiors in Finland. The soft, beautiful exterior and ! serene mood of the petite building, overshadowed by taller, more majestic structures, have a calming effect on the whole neighbourhood.

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