I’ve seen beautiful churches that were built into
rock, but nothing so far compares to the Temppeliaukion Church in Helsinki,
Finland. Built in 1969, the church has become a symbol for Finland and is one
of its most important tourist sites. Because it was blasted out of solid rock,
it is also called Church of the Rock or simply Rock Church.
Entrance to Church of the Rock in Helsinki, Finland
Architect brothers Timo and Tuomo Suomalainen came up with the winning design that used the natural resources of the location. At first they feared that using rocks for walls might be too radical—a thought shared by some of the Lutherans who would be using the church for worship services. But when they learned that rocks provided natural acoustics, they decided to embed the church directly into these natural materials rather clear the rocks away.
First reactions to the design were negative. But
when the church was finished and finally opened in 1969, that all changed. It
was an immediate hit. Services were often full to capacity, and visitors began
to flock to the picturesque church.
Massive windows and rock walls surround the pews.
The unusual design includes an interior wooden,
copper-lined circular dome with a skylight. Natural light streams from above as
well as from ample windows. If you visit in the morning, you’ll see light
flooding in from the skylight and shining on the altar (a piece derived from an
ice-age crevice) directly below.
A copper-lined dome shields the interior of the Rock Church.
A massive organ fills the church with music during
open hours. Visitors can sit in the pews and reflect on the beauty of this
unusual place while listening to the music provided by an organist or a
talented piano player.
Plan to spend time listening to organ music in the Rock Church.
The natural acoustics and artistic significance make
it popular as a concert venue and a wedding venue. Architecture enthusiasts
come from all over the world to see the church. Nearly a million people visit
the church annually, which attests to curiosity about and appreciation of its
unique construction and beauty.
The special altar of the Rock Church
Today, Temppeliaukion is a working church as well as a tourist attraction. If you plan to visit be sure to check opening hours on the website as it will be closed during weddings, christenings, funerals, and the Sunday service. Guided tours are also available.
What a privilege it was to observe and be surrounded by the massive natural rocks that form the basis for this structure. The famous Rock Church is a must-see when visiting Helsinki.
Photos by Larry and Beverly Burmeier