Ilmakuva Temppeliaukion kirkosta

Aside from elegant streets and airy perspectives such as the ones of Museokatu and Mechelininkatu I especially enjoy the thought that was given to most buildings and every small street in Etu-Töölö. It’s a well-built and humanist neighbourhood in the very best meanings of the words. Apart from perhaps the Parliament building's robust quality, beauty and  sensitivity is what exudes from the architecture of this neighbourhood. The range of cafés and restaurants is certainly not as extensive as in other Helsinki neighbourhoods but it is warm and internationally Finnish. For instance, there are places run by Japanese and Chinese families as well as a celebrated 1930s restaurant , Elite, on Runebergingkatu. I like the sense of modernity and  energy of Etu-Töölö, with its obvious architectural winks to the Greek and Italian past of our cultural history.

Ian Bourgeot
Bookseller and artist, Arkadia International Bookshop
Ian Bourgeot

Etu-Töölö is a district in central Helsinki. Built in the beginning of the 20th century, the area is uniform in architecture and home to around 15,000 Helsinkians. The neighbourhood is known for big apartment blocks with closed-off yards, local shops, and a calm atmosphere. 

The main development period of the area was in the 1920s when the district became a residential hub of well-off middle class families. The construction followed a unified city plan and the designs of individual buildings had to follow regulations regarding such things as the heights of buildings and the shapes of the roofs. The buildings’ architecture show a mixture of influences including late art nouveau, classicism, functionalism and modernism. 

Etu-Töölö has many public buildings, including the Parliament House, the Finlandia Hall concert venue, and a church built inside a rock, Temppeliaukio Church. The Kunsthalle Helsinki is said to be the most beautiful art space in the city. Nearby, the National Museum resembles a stone castle built in the national romantic style. The artists' home Lallukka has invited visual artists, theatre makers, and composers to Etu-Töölö since the 1930s.

The Hesperian park connects to Hesperian esplanadi, a green promenade lined with horse chestnuts which finally leads to the Hietaranta Beach, the biggest sandy beach in downtown Helsinki and a popular summer destination for swimming, sunbathing, and outdoor sports.

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Built in the beginning of the 20th century, Etu-Töölö is uniform in architecture. The neighbourhood is known for big apartment blocks with closed-off yards, local shops, and a calm atmosphere.