Eira Villa District
Today, it is almost impossible to tell that Suomenlinna Church was originally the Orthodox church of the Russian garrison in Suomenlinna, or Viapori. When Finland gained its independence in 1917, the church, originally designed by the German-born Russian architect Konstantin Ton, was converted into a Lutheran church and later in the 1920s, its architecture was modified to ‘better suit Finnish culture’. In the 1920s, it felt strange that the capital city’s skyline, as seen from the sea, was dominated by two Orthodox churches, or ‘Eastern visitors’.
A Competition was arranged in 1922 to completely modernize the church. First place was awarded to Einar Sjöström’s simple classicist entry that was quite typical of the era. However, a lack of funds meant that the modernization was not carried out until the late 1920s when Sjöström had already died. The work was completed under architect Jarl Eklund, who also added the finishing touches to Sjöström’s designs.
The tower has a lighthouse that still serves both air and sea traffic. The signal blink is four consecutive flashes, which is Morse code for the letter H, as in Helsinki.