• Jugend architecture in Helsinki. Photo:Helsinki Tourism Material Bank/Esko Jämsä

Tram route 4: Architectural Tour

Tram route number 4 runs from the Katajanokka to the district of Munkkiniemi. It can be recommended to anyone interested in architecture but especially for the fans of Alvar Aalto as several buildings designed by him can be found along the route. The starting point of the route, Katajanokka, is composed of several art nouveau buildings.

Some suggested sights:
Uspenski Cathedral
Senate Square & Tori Quarters
Helsinki Cathedral
Finlandia Hall
National Museum
National Opera House
Olympic Stadium
Seurasaari Open-Air Museum
Aalto House
Aalto Studio

Next to the southern end stop of tram 4 is the Merikasarmi building, designed by the city’s head architect Carl Ludvig Engel. Today Merikasarmi is occupied by Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland. Behind the area one have a look at Icebreakers, which spend their summers at Katajanokka after a long winter full of work. Before heading further one should also make a small tour around Kauppiaankatu Street, which is abundant with art nouveau buildings.

Next up is the Uspenski Cathedral on top of the rock. The cathedral with golden onion-shaped domes was built in the mid 19th century and is the biggest Russian Orthodox Church in Western Europe. Opposite the cathedral on the other side of the street is the head office of Stora Enso, a Finnish-Swedish paper company. The marble-covered building from the 1960s was designed by the world famous Finnish architect Alvar Aalto.

As the tram turns to Aleksanterinkatu you arrive shortly at the Senate Square, which is surrounded by beautiful neoclassical buildings designed by C.L. Engel. On the eastern side is the Government Palace, on the western side the Helsinki University. On the southern side lie Tori Quarters (Torikorttelit), an area full of interesting shops, cafés and restaurants. Behind the Senate Square is the National Library, also designed by C.L. Engel. On top of the stairs is the symbol of the city, the white Helsinki Cathedral. Heading further along Aleksanterinkatu Street, one can go and have a look at the western side of the Nordea Bank located on Fabianinkatu Street. It is designed by Alvar Aalto, as well as the Rautatalo building and the Academic Bookstore, located on Keskuskatu street.

Next the tram turns to Mannerheimintie Street, which hosts several interesting buildings. Lasipalatsi and Postitalo, built in the 1930s, represent functionalism. Contemporary art museum Kiasma and the new Helsinki Music Centre are examples of current architecture. The marble covered Finlandia Hall designed by Alvar Aalto is also part of the new cultural area. On the opposite side of the street, on top of Arkadianmäki hill is the Parliament House, which represents the classicism of the 1920s. Close to it one can see the Finnish National Museum. It is a great example of national romantic style.

Heading further along Mannerheimintie Street one can see the National Opera House built in the 1990s. From the Ooppera stop, there is only a short walk to the functionalist styled Olympic Stadium, which hosted the 1952 Olympic games. A little further on Nordenskiöldinkatu Street, close to Kansaneläkelaitos stop, is the head office of National Pensions Fund designed by Alvar Aalto.

From the Paciuksenkaari stop one can head towards Seurasaari Open-Air Museum. Along the way on Johannesbergintie street and Tamminiementie street there are beautiful wooden villas and the art nouveau styled Tamminiemi, which hosts the Urho Kekkonen Museum that used to be the official residence of former president Kekkonen.

On the southwest end of route 4 are located the Aalto House (Riihitie 20 and Aalto Studio (Tiilimäki 20). Both can be visited and are within a short walking distance from Tiilimäki stop. On Riihitie street number 12-14 there are also apartment blocks designed by Aalto. The route ends at Hotel Kalastajatorppa, which is a short walk away from the Tiilimäki stop. Close by one can also find Café Torpanranta, offering a magnificent view out to the sea.

Read more:

Travel around the city by tram

Tram route 6: Design and culinary tour