Posted by: David Stewart | December 2, 2012

Helsinki High Noon

I had been warned that Helsinki could be a bit cold in winter. But I figured it just made the people who are there a tougher bunch.

Helsinki Well, that’s for sure.

By my standards, it’s been pretty chilly here in Helsinki. It was 18F when I got out at first, and it’s a whopping 7F right now as I am typing this. But that didn’t stop the multiple set of parents with their bundled babes in prams out and about. Or the runners I saw – yes, about a dozen or so runners brazing the cold. Even the bikers – one guy I saw on a recumbent bike with knobby tires on the evening bus I ride I took from the airport. Those are some pretty tough hombres (and chicas too).

I have heard that the Finns as a people take care of each other too. That would make sense – it’s hard enough to get by in this kind of environment. And you never know when you might need someone else’s help.

Besides marveling at the resilient Finns, I also goggled at some of the wonderful sites around town:
Uspenski Cathedral - Helsinki

  • The Cathedral in town is called the Uspenski. It was originally founded as a Russian Orthodox church and is now Finnish Orthodox. You can tell the Russian influence from the gold onion domes. It sits on top of a mighty bluff overlooking the center of town. Actually its on its own little island where there are a number of very cute buildings. So in a way, it kind of looks across the little canal at the center of town.

The interior of the cathedral has an amazing collection of gilded icons of Jesus and various others. The inside top of the dome is a blue expanse filled with stars as if to look up to heaven.

Rock Church, Helsinki

  •  At the opposite end of the spectrum is the “Rock Church.” This is a Lutheran church which was hewn as it were out of a solid rock outcropping. The exterior looks quite modest but the interior has a roof spun out of 22km of copper wire.

One local filmmaker had remarked that he was surprised that the church authorities had allowed the church to be built in a round shape, since pre-Christian places of worship were round.

My wife’s grandfather used to say he ought to belong to the round church, “so they can’t back me into a corner.”  Be that as it may, there are plenty of churches in the round all over the world and can have meaning as strong as a square one, or have no meaning at all.

When I visited, it looked like they were getting ready to host a Christmas concert.


  • Besides the churches and frozen harbor, there is starting to be a sign of Christmas in Helsinki – Christmas trees, lights were hung over the major streets and stalls were being set up in the main square for a Christmas market. I’m sure there will be more signs of Christmas as the day approaches. But I’m not sure I will be here to see any more of them.

Of course being winter, there wasn’t much sun in Helsinki. In fact, at the height of noon, the sun wasn’t much higher that it is in late afternoon where I come from. In fact, I took a photo at noon today, and the sun looked like it wasn’t going to make it very high.

More photos on my Flickr feed.

Cafe Ursula - Helsinki

High noon in December in Helsinki. At the Cafe Ursula



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