I have a love for historical buildings. When I was a child and living in Kuala Lumpur, I used to marvel at the grand colonial buildings around the country and wonder what kinds of secrets the buildings had seen in the years. What you should know about Helsinki is that, we too, have gorgeous historical buildings which are open for anyone to walk into.
One of these is the National Library of Finland next to the Helsinki Cathedral – facing the Senate Square. This building is on the tourist trail and thus, not at all difficult to pop into.
The Empire style building was designed by Carl Ludvig Engel and built during 1840-1845.
The library is Finland’s largest and oldest research library.
The building underwent extensive renovations for two years and was just reopened in March of 2016.
Electricity was installed in 1893. Before that, the opening hours were limited, as researchers needed sunlight to be able to read.
The Cupola Hall has great acoustics and concerts are sometimes held here.
Marvel at the gorgeous details on these pillars.
The reading room.
I just love the old wooden floorboards that creak with each step you take.
Anyone can come where to read or even blog (as there’s free wifi too). These windows are facing the Helsinki cathedral – I wouldn’t get any work done as I’d constantly be gazing at the gorgeous view.
Food or drinks are not allowed in the library but you can visit the café in the basement if you feel a need to snack.
In the collections, you can find three million books and periodicals. And in addition audio recordings, maps, sheet music, manuscripts and so on. The oldest writings about Finland found in the library are from 1488.
The Rotunda – a library extension – was designed to store books. It was completed in 1906 and the architect was Gustaf Nyström.
Take the stairs and go to the very top.
The library does important work in preserving Finland’s published heritage for future generations by conservation, digitising and microfilming materials.
What visitors need to know is that when entering the building, you must go left and downstairs. You then leave your bags and coats in the free lockers provided. After that you are free to explore. Sometimes there might be a private event in the Cupola Hall but you can pop in another day. Cultural events are open to the public. The library is closed on public holidays.
Have you been to the National Library of Finland? Do you have a similar library near where you live which you like to visit?