Excavated directly into solid rock, the unusual Temppeliaukio Church, also known as the Church of the Rock and Rock Church, is situated in the center of Helsinki, Finland. Because of its distinctive architecture, the church has become a popular tourist destination in Helsinki with more than 500,000 visitors annually.
Plans for a church originated in 1906 when Helsinki was experiencing growth and modernization. Several design contests were held for the church plans, but no one submitted satisfactory designs. World War II temporarily halted the plans to build, and after the war, Finland was deeply in debt and was focused on paying off its reparations to the Soviet Union.
However, in 1961, another contest was held and architect brothers Timo and Tuomo Suomalainen (whose surname literally means ‘Finnish’) won. They were worried that using the rocks for walls would be too extreme at the time but thought the rocks would make excellent natural acoustics.
The architects consulted with Orchestra Conductor Paavo Berglund, who, along with an acoustical engineer, assisted in determining the best acoustics using the rock wall surfaces.
The brothers also designed the building to use natural light from a skylight with a copper-lined dome and included ducts in the floor to carry away water from melting snow.
In February 1968, construction finally began, and the Church of the Rock was completed and dedicated in September 1969.
The interior walls that are made entirely of rock amazes the thousands of visitors each year. And, despite being located beneath the ground, the interior is bright, and during the day, the light spreads from the row of windows surrounding the roof all the way to the altar wall. Due to its excellent acoustics, the church is a popular venue for concerts as well as weddings.
Today, Temppeliaukio Church serves the community as both a tourist attraction and a working church. It has also become a popular spot where visitors are welcome year-round to visit the church, take a tour and attend the many concerts held each year.
For more information, visit https://temppeliaukionkirkko.fi/.