The Church of the Rock

As a disclaimer: These photos were taken during a visit in September 2017, so this post may not be representative of this site today.

Ever climbed up to the rooftop of a church? Did it ever look like this? I tried to visit this church’s interior about three times, always finding it closed, and for a time I thought its rooftop was all I would ever see. On my last full day in Helsinki, however, I decided to try one last time — and met with success.

Temppeliaukio Church

A Lutheran church designed by the brothers Timo and Tuomo Suomalainen, the structure first opened in 1969. It was built directly into solid rock, so that it is also known as the Church of the Rock.

A plan to build the church (this time designed by J.S. Siren) was ideated as early as the 1930s, but it was interrupted in its early stages by World War II. After the war, a new competition was held, won by the Suomalainen brothers in 1961.

Apparently it had not been part of the original design to leave the rock walls exposed, as the architects believed it would be too radical for the jury. Once they looked more into how to perfect the acoustics, however, they realized it could be done by keeping the original rock wall. The acoustics are so good that the interior of the church is known for them, and the building is often used as a concert venue.

The furnishings inside the church were designed by the architects, and the organ was built by Veikko Virtanen. The church has no bells, and instead it plays a recording of bells created by Taneli Kuusisto via loudspeakers.

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