Hewn into solid rock in the middle of a residential square, Helsinki’s Rock Church (Temppeliaukio Kirkko) features a circular ceiling covered entirely with copper stripping. Natural light streams in through 180 window panes, while an ice age crevice in the natural rock serves as the altar.
Architect brothers Timo and Tuomo Suomalainen designed the Rock Church in 1969. Although it was originally controversial in Finland, the Lutheran church is now a source of civic pride and a top Helsinki attraction. Also known as the Church of the Rock or Temppeliaukio Church, the structure is featured on most Helsinki sightseeing tours including bus excursions, private tours, and walking tours of the downtown area. If you’d rather visit on your own schedule, the Helsinki Card also includes admission to Rock Church.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Rock Church is a must-see for architecture lovers and first-time visitors to Helsinki.
- The building often hosts classical concerns, as it’s raw rock walls provide wonderful acoustics.
- The church's entrance is on street level, making it easily accessible for wheelchair users.
How to Get There
Rock Church is located in the Töölö neighborhood of Helsinki. You can reach the church on tram 3T or 3B, or by train. Guided tours typically provide round-trip transportation and can save you the hassle of driving and navigation.
When to Get There
Part of what makes Temppeliaukio Church so special is the play of natural light on the rock walls. This light show depends on the season and time of day, but arriving before noon is a good bet for getting the best photos. Please note that the church is often closed for weddings, christenings, concerts, and special events; if you plan to visit independently, be sure to call ahead to check opening hours.
Architectural History of Rock Church
A competition was held to determine the design of the church, and when the Suomalainen brothers won, the rough rock walls were not a part of their original design—they thought the idea too radical for the competition. But, when Finnish composer/conductor Paavo Berglund shared his knowledge of acoustics and acoustical engineer Mauri Parjo gave requirements for the wall surfaces, the architects realized that the raw rock was a perfect solution.