The Uspenski Cathedral is one of the most visible and recognizable buildings in Helsinki, and we recently (finally!) managed to visit see its rich interior. The Uspenski cathedral was constructed in the 1860’s (lots of details available in Finnish here), shortly after the completion of the Tuomiokirkko – together the two cathedrals form an interesting pair, both sitting on elevated sites in central Helsinki.
There are actually three cathedrals in Helsinki – the Lutheran Tuomiokirkko on Senaatintori, the Eastern Orthodox Uspenski cathedral, and the less well known Catholic St. Henry’s cathedral. With its thirteen golden domes and red-brick walls the Uspenski cathedral is probably the most striking of the three, with its location on a rocky outcrop on Katajanokka making it visible from afar.
The Uspenski has very specific opening hours (Tue-Fri 9.30-16, Sat-Sun 12-15: you can also confirm this online here) and the main hall is accessed by a long flight of stairs. The nave is surprisingly small, and is probably higher than it is wide. The bold and repetitive patterning on the columns and much of the ceiling was quite striking and beautiful – this was our first visit to an orthodox church, so I don’t know if this is a common style of decoration?
One of the most surprising stories I came across while reading up about the cathedral is the theft of two of the cathedral’s icons in the last decade – one was recovered but the other is still being searched for. Fortunately no-one has tampered with the cathedral’s golden cupolas which were restored in 2007 using half a kilogram of gold (according to the Helsingin Sanomat).