This church was originally built from 1830-1852 as a tribute to the Grand Duke of Finland, Tsar Nicholas I of Russia. It was also known as St Nicholas’ Church until the independence of Finland in 1917. The church’s architectural plan is a Greek cross (a square centre and four equilateral arms), symmetrical in each of the four cardinal directions, with each arm’s façade featuring a colonnade and pediment. Engel originally intended to place a further row of columns on the western end to mark the main entrance opposite the eastern altar, but this was never built. The building was later altered by Engel’s successor Ernst Lohrmann, whose four small domes emphasise the architectural connection to the cathedral’s model, Saint Isaac’s 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.
It is important to mention that much of the architecture in old churches (including this one) have (1) an altar to the east, (2) are build with an eight beamed sun shaped form when looking from above, and (3) the entrance to the church includes stairs. These three features are contrary to Biblical teachings.
16 And he brought me into the inner court of the Lord’s house, and, behold, at the door of the temple of the Lord, between the porch and the altar, were about five and twenty men, with their backs toward the temple of the Lord, and their faces toward the east; and they worshipped the sun toward the east.
17 Then he said unto me, Hast thou seen this, O son of man? Is it a light thing to the house of Judah that they commit the abominations which they commit here? for they have filled the land with violence, and have returned to provoke me to anger: and, lo, they put the branch to their nose.
18 Therefore will I also deal in fury: mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity: and though they cry in mine ears with a loud voice, yet will I not hear them.
25 And if thou wilt make me an altar of stone, thou shalt not build it of hewn stone: for if thou lift up thy tool upon it, thou hast polluted it.
26 Neither shalt thou go up by steps unto mine altar, that thy nakedness be not discovered thereon.