St. John's Church in Helsinki

Johanneksenkirkko

The most prominent example of Neo-Gothic church architecture in Finland is Helsinki's two-tower red brick Church of St. John. It also is Finland's largest stone church, built as a basilica with a central nave and two aisles, and seated about 2,600 people. Thus, it is not surprising that the church has been a filming location for many domestic television programs and movies.

While strolling through Helsinki, I came across this brick masonry church by chance. Luckily! Because St. John's Church appeared to me to be the most beautiful religious building in the city, especially for its interior. I initially thought I was visiting the city's cathedral rather than a regular church – it's magnificent.



A representative unified urban space surrounds the Neo-Gothic building, a cityscape icon. In addition to St John's Church, this urban space includes a beautiful park and late 19th and early 20th centuries residential buildings. The church is a favorite wedding venue due to its good location and impressive size. The excellent acoustics make it a popular concert place as well.

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Helsinki Map


The Church's Brief History


St. John's church was Helsinki's third Lutheran church, built between 1888 and 1891 as the surrounding population began to grow. The New Church was its original name. It stands in Ullanlinna, the southernmost district of central Helsinki, on a hill where people traditionally burnt bonfires during Midsummer. 

Getting the bells took a long time; the north tower acquired its electric bells only in 1932. The same year, Eero Järnefelt, a Finnish painter and art professor, painted the altarpiece depicting Saul's conversion. The spires' tops were originally brickwork, but they became covered in copper in 1911, and the smaller corner spires in 1934. 

The bombing of Helsinki in February 1944 slightly damaged the building, with several windows broken. The 66-stop organ, built-in 1891 by the German organ manufacturer E.F. Walcker & Co., transformed into a 74-stop organ in 1956. In 1991, St. John's Church underwent its last renovation. At that time, the basement became a crypt.


Architecture


Adolf Emil Melander, a Stockholm architect, designed St. John's Church in the Neo-Gothic architectural style, as shown in the pointed arches of windows and doors, a succession of columns at the entrance, and the elaborately adorned façade.

The structure measures 59 meters (194 feet) in length and has a 42-meter (138-foot) nave. Granite footings and red brick masonry define the exterior. Above the main entrance in the northeast section, two 74-meter (243-foot) towers stand.

Finnish Kari Juva's 2003 John the Baptist sculpture is next to the church's main entrance. Along the aisle's walls are a series of wood reliefs made in Italy depicting the fourteen stations of the Way of the Cross. 

The lighting effects inside the building, created by the towering arched windows, rose windows in the pediments, and numerous tiny windows with ornate and colored glass, are spectacular. Various chandeliers and sconces also beautifully light up the church.


St. John's Church in Pictures

St. John's Church
A view of the church from the north-east

Johanneksenkirkko
The church façade

St. Jon's Church in Helsinki
Sculpture of St. John the Baptist

Johanneksenkirkko
The church interior, with the altar in the background

Johanneskyrkan
The organ

How to Get There


The iconic twin spires of St. John's Church stand out in Helsinki's skyline. The church is just a 17-minute walk from Helsinki Cathedral on the Unioninkatu-Pohjoisesplanadi-Korkeavuorenkatu route.

Address: Korkeavuorenkatu 12, 00120 Helsinki, Finland


By Public Transportation

Bus (lines 20, 30): Viiskulma
Tram (line 10): Johanneskyrkan


Opening Hours & Ticket Prices


Admission is free. Please check the church's website for hours of operation.


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