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A regular themed photo blog selected from images either in or on their into my website archive at www.timbirdphotography.com

I just paid a flying visit to Tampere, a city on the confluence of two big lakes in central Finland, and dropped in to what is one of my favourite buildings in the whole country, the city’s cathedral. It was designed by Lars Sonck, a prime exponent of the Finnish National Romantic architectural style at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, a kind of cultural expression of national identity when Finland was still governed as a Grand Duchy of the Russian Empire.

Much of the best and most distinctive architecture and art in Finland dates to this period; the National Museum and National Theatre in Helsinki are other examples, as is Hvitträsk, a wonderful lakeside Tolkienesque fantasy in wood and granite close to the capital, the former home and collective studio-cum-drinking den of three architects, Gesellius, Lindgren and Saarinen, and now a museum. The cathedral’s materials of wood and granite, as well as evocative symbolic frescoes, paintings and stained glass, are typical of what I think is a very appealing style.

Tampere Cathedral contradicts the idea that all Lutheran churches are restrained and sombre. In fact when it opened in 1907 the cathedral was controversial with worshippers who wondered, for example, why a symbol of the devil, a snake fresco, was featured in its interior.

Here, then, are six picks from my visit.


Tampere Cathedral – straight out of Tolkien. Greatness in granite.


The ceiling of the Cathedral bears the image of a snake by Hugo Simberg.


View towards the altar, showing the vaulted ceilings, a kind of romantic Gothic, with the altarpiece and stained glass window designed by Magnus Enckell.


The Burning Bush is one of six stained glass windows by Hugo Simberg.


Twelve boys hold the Garland of Life, a fresco running around the gallery, painted by Simberg.


The main door of the Cathedral. You can see many heavy wooden doors and whimsical granite arches like this in the Jugendstil districts of Helsinki, such as Katajanokka and Eira.



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Read an essay by Elisa Valtonen about the Cathedral here:


For info about Hvitträsk: