Thursday, May 18—Viking Homeland Cruise, Day 13, Helsinki, Finland

Ferry between Tallinn and Helsinki
Senate Square, Helsinki, Finland
While Helsinki is a small European capital compared to other cities we’ve visited, it has an air of grace and sophistication—exhibited via its neoclassical beauty and Art Nouveau elegance.  The Senate Square, a wide open space is the heartbeat of the city with close proximity of the University of Helsinki, political and administrative buildings, art edifices—and an abundance of traffic!  While the Senate Square is the heartbeat of the city, Helsinki’s centerpiece is the Helsinki Cathedral, with influences of both Greek and old Russian architecture as evidences by its colonnaded entrances and green domes.
Helsinki Cathedral, Helsinki, Finland
Helsinki Cathedral, Helsinki, Finland
Our “included” tour incorporated a bus exploration of the city, viewing the places mentioned in the previous paragraph.  We drove by the 1952 Olympic Stadium, and stopped for a close-up examination of the Sibelius Monument consisting of some 600 stainless steel pipes dedicated to the composer.  Jean Sibelius was a Finnish Composer and Violinist, and through his music is often credited with having helped his country to develop a national identity during its struggle for independence from Russia.  He is best known for his seven symphonies, with other well known compositions such as Finlandia, the Karelia Suite, Valse trust, the Violin Concerto, the choral symphony Kullervo, and The Swan of Tuonela.
Sibelius Monument, Helsinki, Finland
Sibelius Monument, Helsinki, Finland
Jean Sibelius
The tour also stopped to examine the copper filled and roofed Temppeliaukio Kirkko (aka Rock Church) carved into a block of underground granite.  We thoroughly enjoyed classical music being played by a concert pianist.
Concert pianist, the Rock Church, Helsinki, Finland
Copper-domed roof, Rock Church, Helsinki, Finland

Today it was cloudy and a cool 48°.  Helsinki was a neat city but one visit was enough.

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