The Uspenski Cathedral, or Uspenskin Katedraali in Finnish, is an Orthodox cathedral dedicated to the Virgin Mary. It’s located on the Katajanokka peninsula in Helsinki overlooking the city. It’s one of the most famous sights of the Finnish capital with its golden onion domes and façade of red brick which is clearly inspired by Russian architecture. It’s claimed to be the largest Orthodox Church in Western Europe.
Like the Temppeliaukio "Rock Church", the Uspenski Cathedral is not just a sacred place of worship but also a busy tourist attraction. The Katedraali welcomes more than 500,000 tourists every year who come to pray and admire the many gilded murals and rare icons on display.
The cathedral was the last building to be designed by Russian architect Aleksey Gornostayev, having been completed after his death. It was built in the years between 1862 and 1868 using bricks from the 19th century Bomarsund Fortress on Åland, after it was destroyed during the Crimean War.
What to see at the UspenskiThe architecture of Uspenskin is much admired - so plan a visit to admire its towering red brick walls and 13 copper domes representing Christ and his twelve apostles. The cathedral is known for its rare murals and icons - the icon of Theotokos of Kozeltshan is especially beautiful. The Icon was stolen in 2010 and hidden in a forest, but the thief later felt guilty for the theft and informed the police of where they could find it. The man was imprisoned and lucky for us, the icon is since then back at the Uspenski for us to admire.
The cathedral can be easily reached from the Radisson Blu Seaside Hotel in Helsinki, as it is less than 30 minutes' walk away and an even shorter tram ride. The Uspenskin Cathedral is open every day, except on Mondays during the winter months. The entrance is free, although donations to the church or good causes are much welcomed.