‘The Finnish capital brings together a huge range of varying design styles. These are best viewed by putting your boots on and hitting the streets. This is a quick architectural tour of Helsinki…’

Senate Square / Helsinki Cathedral

You simply cannot consider an architectural tour of Helsinki without including Senate Square. It’s the most iconic area of Helsinki and is the historic centre of the city. The Square is home to Helsinki Cathedral, the Government Palace and the University of Helsinki. It’s what other city squares dream of being. In other words, it’s stunning.

Carl Ludvig Engel designed the majority of the buildings in Senate Square, including the incredible Cathedral, which dates back to 1852.

Location / Senate Square


Government Palace

This pale orange/yellow building was the first major structure to be designed by Carl Ludvig Engel. The building houses the Senate of Finland and makes up one side of the structures of Senate Square.

In 1904, Nikolai Ivanovich Bobrikov, who was the Governer-General of Finland at the time, was shot and killed by a Russian assassin, Eugen Schauman at Government Palace.  You, I’m sure, will be perfectly safe… I was.

Location / Senate Square


Helsinki City Museum / Sederholm House

Helsinki City Museum, which includes the Sederholm House Building, sits on the corner of Senate Square. The museum focuses on the history and culture of Helsinki and its residents throughout time.

Sederholm House, which houses the children’s museum, is the oldest stone building in the city centre. It dates back to 1757.

Location / Aleksanterinkatu 16-18, just off Senate Square

The House of Nobility (The Ritarihuone)

This house was originally constructed as a meeting place for the upper echelons of Finnish society. Swedish born architect, Georg Theodor Chiewitz designed the building. He is also responsible for the Swedish Theatre in Helsinki (yet another beautiful building)

The Ritarihuone’s architecture is Neogothic in style. The structure is instantly recognisable in downtown Helsinki due to its red brick exterior.

Location / Ritarikatu 1

Presidential Palace

The Palace is one of three official residences of the President of Finland. That can’t be a bad job, can it? After all, Finland’s such a peaceful nation. Can’t really say the same about some of its neighbours, though… The Palace sits on the Esplanade, looking out across Market Square.

The Palace was originally designed as a residential home. However, after that, it was redesigned by Carl Engel Ludvig. The building now hosts various state functions and parties that I never seem to be invited to. *sigh*

Location / Mariankatu 2

Stora Enso HQ

Stora Enso is a manufacturer of paper and pulp, which doesn’t sound that exciting because it isn’t. However, the building it uses as its headquarters is.

Alvar Aalto designed this white waterside building and it completed in 1962. The architect himself is legendary in his home nation of Finland. Although the Stora Enso building might not be in the same style as the more historic structures in the city, it’s iconic nonetheless.

Location / Kanavaranta 1


Uspenski Cathedral

Uspenski is the largest Orthodox Cathedral in Western Europe. The structure is typical of the Soviet influence on the nation. The Cathedral is one of the most beautiful structures in Helsinki. It’s well used, despite the fact that fewer than 2% of the population is of the Orthodox faith.

Russian architect Alexey Gornostaev designed Uspenski Cathedral. It’s my favourite building in the city. It’s SO beautiful.

Location / Katajanokka Island

Katajanokka Art Nouveau District

As you wander along the streets of Katajanokka, the colours of the buildings alone are Instagram worthy.  However, the actual designs and embellishments of the structures are stunning.

This small island district has a unique collection of art nouveau designs that feature beautiful wrought-ironwork, quirky windows, and gorgeous roof lines.

Location / Katajanokka Island

courtesy of Wikipedia

National Archives

The National Archives consists of three main buildings, with the headquarters on Rauhankatu. Gustav Nystrom designed the Neo renaissance HQ and Carl Eneas Sjostrand designed the neoclassical sculpture above the roof.

The roof sculpture, consisting of three women, is of particular importance to Finland.  The central figure represents the nation of Finland, while the others signify criticism and history.

Location / Rauhankatu

By Jennifer Boyer from Maryland, USA – Burgher’s House

Burgher’s House

Burgher’s House is the oldest wooden building in Helsinki. The house has been standing in central Helsinki since 1818 and forms part of the National Museum complex.

The vibrant yellow home belonged to the Wickholm family, who lived in the property from 1859. Therefore, it’s still decorated in the style of the times.  It’s a really fascinating step back in time. In addition, it’s free to enter. Result.

Location / Kristianinkatu 12


Our leisurely wander around the buildings mentioned in the article took around 90 minutes (LT likes to stop and take photos every three seconds, on average) You might get round slightly quicker. The total distance measured in at around 1 mile.  Enjoy the architectural tour of Helsinki!

Suz xx