Classics of Finnish architecture

from art nouveau to alvar aalto – explore architectural history in finland


Archtours has long experience in organising trips focusing on the history of architecture. Classic sites can be included in all of our tour programmes, in addition to new buildings. In Finland, the classic sites of modernism, such as buildings designed by Alvar Aalto, are absolutely worth visiting.

The historical centre of Helsinki consists of the neoclassical Senate Square, designed by Carl Ludvig Engel, and its surroundings. Classic sites also include the Suomenlinna sea fortress, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The sea fortress was built in the eighteenth century. At the turn of the twentieth century, Helsinki experienced a short but rich period of Art Nouveau architecture. Forms and shapes inspired by nature and romantic naturalism can be admired in the Katajanokka and Eira districts. Architect Eliel Saarinen also designed many other buildings in Helsinki, and his son, Eero Saarinen, started his career in Helsinki.

The working-class districts of Puu-Käpylä and Puu-Vallila, with their wooden houses, date back to the early twentieth century. These districts were originally implemented as social housing projects, and their architecture was influenced by Nordic classicism and Art Nouveau.

In the 1930s, most Finnish architects, including Alvar Aalto, took to modernism. The Aalto sites located in Helsinki include his home, Aalto House (1936), and atelier (1955), the Academic Bookstore (1969) and Finlandia House (1971, 1975). Other well-known modernists include Erik Bryggman and Aarne Ervi, for example. Outside the Helsinki region, significant Alvar Aalto sites include Villa Mairea (1939) in Pori and the Paimio Sanatorium (1933), as well as the towns of Jyväskylä and Seinäjoki, both of which have a wide selection of Aalto sites.

Interesting modernist sites also include the Otaniemi campus of Aalto University, formerly known as Helsinki University of Technology, in Espoo. The most significant buildings on the campus, such as the main building (1965, 1975) and the library (1969), were designed by Alvar Aalto in the 1960s. Other classic modernist sites on the campus include the Otaniemi Chapel (1957), designed by Kaija and Heikki Sirén, and the Dipoli student house (1966), designed by Raili and Reima Pietilä.

Temppeliaukio Church (1969), also known as the Rock Church, designed by Timo and Tuomo Suomalainen, is also a significant modernist site in Helsinki.


Through Archtours, you can experience classic architectural sites in Finland with a local architect guide. Contact us, and we will plan a tour tailored for your group.


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John Doe, architect

Classics of finnish architecture

Exlpore architectural classics in Helsinki with Archtours.

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