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Helsinki Cathedral

The cities of Finland are truly an architectural joy to explore.

The fact that probably many people may not know is that the cities of Finland are truly an architectural joy to explore. The architecture of Finland has a history spanning over 800 years. One can find there, buildings designed by international geniuses, for example, Carl Ludwig Engel, Alvar Aalto, Eliel, and Eero Saarinen. Also, six UNESCO World Heritage sites are located in Finland, each one with its own history and unique charm.

Helsinki Cathedral is a Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Cathedral, that is apart of the Diocese of Helsinki. It is located in a neighborhood of Kruununhaka, in the center of Helsinki, Finland. It has become a major landmark of the city. Helsinki Cathedral was originally built from 1830-1852. It was built as a tribute to the Grand Duke of Finland, Tsar Nicholas I of Russia. Until the independence of Finland, 1917, Helsinki Cathedral was also known as St. Nicholas Church.

The Helsinki Cathedral is a neoclassical style building and it is easy to recognize because of its tall green dome that is surrounded by other smaller domes. It was designed by Carl Ludwig Engel as the climax of his senate square layout, it is surrounded by other smaller buildings designed by him too. The ground plan of the Cathedral is a Greek cross with each arm’s facade featuring a colonnade and pediment. Engel originally decided to place a further row or columns on the western end to mark the main entrance, opposite the eastern altar, but that was never built.

The Cathedral was built on the site of the smaller Ulrika Eleonora church, which was dedicated to its patroness, Ulrika Eleonora, Queen of Sweden. This church was made entirely from snow and it was constructed on Senate Square in the early 2000s. Helsinki Old Church was built between 1824 and 1826 in nearby Kamppi to serve the parish while the Ulrika Eleonora Church was being demolished and until the consecration of the new Cathedral.

The Cathedral was altered by Engel’s successor Ernst Lohrmann, whose four small domes emphasize the architectural connection to the Cathedral’s models, Saint Isaac’s Cathedral and Kazan Cathedral in St. Petersburg. Lohrmann also erected two free-standing bell towers, as well as larger than life-sized zinc statues of the twelve apostles at the apexes and corners of the roofline. The altarpiece was painted by Carl Timoleon Von Neff and donated to the church by Emperor Nicholas I. The crypt was renovated in the 1980s by architects Vilhelm Helander and Juha Leiviskä for the use of exhibitions and church functions. Helander was also responsible for conversation repairs on the Cathedral in the late 1990s.

Helsinki Cathedral has become the symbol of the whole Helsinki. It is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Helsinki. More than 3500,000 people visit there every year, some to attend religious events but most of the visitors are tourists. The Church is in regular use for services of worship special events such as weddings

Short bio of the volunteer:

Anni Ruskela, a volunteer from Kajaani, Finland.


Erasmus+ is a programme of the European Commission embracing the fields of education, training, youth and sports during the period 2014-2020. One of the major aspects is the cooperation between the different fields where the programme acts, hence contributing for a diverse and rich Europe.

Amongst the several goals of the programme, the following are prioritised: the objectives of the Europe 2020 Strategy, including the headline education target; the aims of the strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training (ET 2020), including the corresponding benchmarks; the sustainable development of Partner Countries in the field of higher education; the overall goals of the renewed framework for European cooperation in the youth field (2010-2018); the objective of developing the European dimension in sport, in particular grassroots sport, in line with the EU work plan for sport and the promotion of European values in accordance with Article 2 of the Treaty on the European Union.

In order to achieve these goals, the Erasmus+ has several action policies. The Key Action 1 (KA1) is directed towards the mobility of people; Key Action 2 (KA2) for the cooperation for innovation and the interchange of good experiences; and Key Action 3 (KA3) which is for the support of reformation policies.

European Voluntary Service

Since 1991 the University of Madeira Students’ Union has developed a wide incentive policy for voluntary work. In 2013 the Students’ Union started the process to receive, send and coordinate Erasmus+ projects of the European Voluntary Service, in order to have a larger influence in the volunteering field. The Union received its first volunteer withing the ambit of a KA1 project in 2014. Many efforts have been done to allow young people from Madeira to take part in several initiatives in Europe, as well as propose several projects allowing young people from several countries to work in the projects of the Students’ Union of the University of Madeira. The main goal of the voluntary work is the contribution of the volunteers to the communities and places they will be staying, being their work not rewarded with payment.

We believe that the European Voluntary Service is a mechanism full of experiences, allowing the approved candidates to have the privilege of taking part in these projects and benefit the places and communities where these volunteers will be staying.

Since 2013, the University of Madeira Students’ Union has received volunteers that have collaborated in several activities and initiatives. Besides being able to enjoy a wonderful experience which will contribute to their personal and professional growth, they are able to contribute in a unique way to the community in which they are inserted and to join dozens of volunteers from the University of Madeira.