Visible to thousands of Helsinki inhabitants and commuters to the capital city passing Kamppi every day, yet very few locals know the answer when you ask them where the Synagogue is.
(Photo: Peter Marten – I would love to go out and take own pictures of the area, but the weather is so unbelievably rubbish that I had to borrow this picture)
Yes It is located right off Kamppi, and it is the building with the golden dome roof, reflecting morning light. As I was told by Andre, my guide at the Jewish Community Centre (JCC), when the nearby Radisson Hotel was being designed, the architects made sure that the Synagogue’s roof remains visible from Kamppi. I’m not sure where this condition comes from, but it surely werved the JCC and the whole Kamppi area well.
I, too, stumbled upon the Synagogue quite randomly – there were not too many clues at the outside of the Synagogue, with exception to stars of David on the outside fence. And a pretty tall wall. And an automated gate. And a security guide.
Security measures are still quite high – prepare to be ID:ed and assigned a guide and leave any larger bags at home, but visitors are always welcome: it is possible to visit the Synagogue and the adjacent Jewish centre every week (Monday to Thursday at 10am and 2pm), the best way to secure the tour is to get in touch with the Jewish Community Centre in advance.
And what is behind the walls?
Well, first of all, a group of kids playing in the inside yard (there is a Jewish Kindergarten and School at the centre which I did not know). Social areas and offices of the JCC. And the Synagogue, which due to the security measures and alike looks quite modest from the street.
The interior, however, is pretty stunning. The Synagogue, designer by Viipuri-born Johan Jacob Ahrenberg, was finished in 1906 and is very likeable and very art-nouveau and definitely worth a visit.
The opinions and suggestions in this blog are mine and mine only (unless of course stated otherwise) and I’m not planning to serve as marketing agency, but I have to mention that Andre Zweig, my (own) guide, was really friendly and knowledgable, showing me around the JCC and telling me about the history of Jewish community in Finland. If you would like to know more about this topic, or would fancy a tour of your own, do drop him a line.