Walking towards Helsinki’s exceptional Temppeliaukio Cathedral, built underground hewn from solid granite, is a striking monument to Finland’s finest composer, Jean Sibelius. Built from more than 600 steel pipes in the form of organ pipes, reactions vary from praise to disappointment at the modern surrealist memorial.
Personally, I loved the monument, glittering in the warming rays of the Helsinki sun, the trees of the surrounding park reflected off the various lengths of silvery pipe. The organ pipes gave a sense of his prodigious musical achievements with a striking and memorable sculpture. Artistic travellers stooped, laid down and leaned to get their perfect angle to photograph this unusual monument.
Next to the organ pipes is the silvery moon-shaped head of Sibelius set on stone with two artistic blobs of quicksilver. While glistening in the sunshine and despite Sibelius’ striking visage, I found the head somewhat tasteless.
Also worth a brief stroll is the neighbouring cemetery. Packed with presidents, prime ministers, military, artists, actors, sportsmen, authors and other significant Finns, the graves nestle peacefully in a tranquil tree-filled peninsula. Armies of tiny squirrels disrespectfully dance across the graves chasing morsels of food fallen from the overhanging trees. Somewhat surprisingly, Jean Sibelius doesn’t feature among the numerous tombs.
While the Finnish suburb of Töölö would be unlikely to attract many visitors without the remarkable travel wonder of its modern cathedral, it warrants a brief stroll to enjoy the restful parklands of the area and to enjoy the sparkling silvery monument to Finland’s most famous composer. Do you like either or both of the sculptures?