Hello, Art Nouveau!

Helsinki

The Art Nouveau movement flourished in the early years of the 20th century, coinciding with Helsinki’s modernization. Art Nouveau was primarily in favor of applying art to everyday objects, making art available to everyone—a philosophy that Helsinki readily embraced. Up to now, Helsinki is arguably the largest and most accessible gallery in the world, being home to intricately stylistic buildings that are as beautiful as they are functional. Strolling around the city feels like walking through museum halls while observing a carefully curated exhibition. Here are eight structures that perfectly capture Helsinki’s artistic culture and style.

  • Architectural Admirations
  • Long-standing Classics
  • Landmark
  • European Architecture
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  • Architecture
  • Art Nouveau
  • Nostalgic Vibes
lemi

Updated 4 months ago

Helsinki Central Railway Station

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Helsinki, Finland • Recommendation • 

The Central Railway Station is probably the first thing you will see when you arrive at Helsinki. It is impossible to miss because it’s absolutely massive and stunning, rightly chosen as the world’s most beautiful railway stations by BBC. It was completed in 1919 by architect Eliel Saarinen, one of the most prominent figures in Art Nouveau architecture. The station is clad in Finnish granite, with two sets of male guardian sculptures holding spherical lamps on either side of the building’s main entrance—the “Stone Men” (or “Ball Guys,” as the locals fondly call them).

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The National Museum of Finland

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Helsinki, Finland • Recommendation • 

Bears carved from stone greet visitors at the National Museum’s entrance, as a green-tinged, iron-topped tower extends above. There are frescoes in the foyer that are decorated with paintings of scenes from the Kalevala, Finland’s national epic poem. A ten minute walk from the railway station will get you to the Museum. With eye-catching, Art Nouveau-inspired apartments that embellish the city, your short walk might extend a bit longer—savor the experience.

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Vltava Restaurant

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Helsinki, Finland • Recommendation • 

Vltava is the largest Czech restaurant in Finland. It opened in 2005 in an Jugend (Art Nouveau) architecture building protected by the Finnish National Board of Antiquities. Being a very large restaurant and bar, Vltava has 369 customer spaces inside, and 126 coveted spots on its summer terrace, the most atmospheric spot to enjoy Czech beer. Among other things such as its huge space, rentable meeting rooms, and gorgeous architecture, Vltava also has the widest range of Czech beers in the city.

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Finnish National Theatre

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Helsinki, Finland • Recommendation • 

The Finnish National Theatre is the oldest Finnish-language theatre in the country that is still in operation. It was designed by Onni Tarjanne, a Finnish architect and professor of construction, in 1902, and is located behind a statue of Finland’s most prominent writer, Aleksis Kivi. It is a grey brick building with a contrasting red roof, and towers that shoot towards the sky. Arches frame its tall windows, bringing to mind classic Art Nouveau portraits. Talk about stunning! It is also Finland's first public building, where the features of repetitive styles have receded to give way the Art Nouveau style.

  • +3581073311
  • Läntinen Teatterikuja 1, Helsinki, Finland

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Paasitorni (Helsinki Workers' House)

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Helsinki, Finland • Recommendation • 

This castle-like hotel and events space was built in 1908 by Finnish-Swedish architect, Karl Lindahl. It was made to be a conference center and leisure facility for middle class workers. It is most notable for its rounded silhouette and gray granite stone walls, adding a bit more romance to the already romantic Helsinki. Art Nouveau chandeliers from the 1920s still hang from the Congress Hall’s ceiling. The building is also of historical significance as it served as the Reds’ headquarters during the Finnish Civil War.

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Kallio Church

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Helsinki, Finland • Recommendation • 

The Kallio Church, towers over Kallio—a part of Helsinki known for its young population and contemporary street art. The contrast between its old-timey, Art Nouveau style and the area’s hip vibe gives it an even more dignified and awe-inspiring aura. The church features a very tall tower, a vibrant green roof, and a rounded front entrance. However, its most striking feature is the notable Helsinki gray granite that beautifully complements the green roof. It currently serves the district as a Lutheran church and a concert venue.

  • Itäinen Papinkatu 2, Helsinki, Finland

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Yrjönkatu Swimming Hall

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Helsinki, Finland • Recommendation • 

The Yrjönkatu Swimming Hall features soaring arches with blue and purple tiles that are illuminated by light bouncing from the pool. It looks inexplicably ethereal! It was built in the 1920s and is the first and oldest public swimming hall in Finland. first floor contains a large pool, two saunas and dressing closets, and the second floor contains resting cabins, saunas and a café. The hall was designed by architect Väinö Vähäkallio, representing the Art Nouveau style. Today, it is a popular relaxation environment that perfectly demonstrates the magic and allure of Art Nouveau.

  • Yrjönkatu 21B, Helsinki, Finland

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Uspenski Cathedral

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Helsinki, Finland • Recommendation • 

The Uspenski Cathedral is set upon a hillside on the Katajanokka peninsula, overlooking the city. It houses several valuable icons.—among others, the St. Nicolas – The Wonder Maker, which was stolen in 2007. The Cathedral’s facade boasts of majestic towers, golden cupolas, vibrant red brick walls, grand arches, and a striking mint-green roof. It is a clear symbol of the Russian impact on Finnish history, blended with the charm of Helsinki’s Art Nouveau architecture. The interior is just as sublime with the abundance of lavish decoration and ornate design. The Uspenski Cathedral is the largest orthodox church in Western Europe, and is a prime tourist destination.

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