Helsinki Senate Square
The Helsinki Cathedral
The Senate Square (in Finnish Senaatintori, in Swedish Senatstorget) presents Carl Ludvig Engel's architecture as a unique allegory of political, religious, scientific and commercial powers in the centre of Helsinki, Finland.
The Palace of the Council of State was completed on the eastern side of the Senate Square in 1822. It served as the seat of the Senate of Finland until it was replaced by the Council of State in 1918, and now houses the offices of the Prime minister of Finland and the cabinet. The main University building, on the opposite side of the Senate Square, was constructed in 1832.
The Helsinki Cathedral on the northern edge of the Senate Square was Engel's lengthiest architectural project. He was working on it from 1818 until his death in 1840. The Helsinki Cathedral — then called the Church of St. Nicholas — dominates the Senate Square, and was finalized twelve years afters Engel's death, in 1852.
A statue of Emperor Alexander II is located in the center of the square. The statue, erected in 1894, was built to commemorate his re-establishment the Diet of Finland in 1863, as well as his initiation of several reforms that increased Finland's autonomy from Russia. The statue comprises Alexander on a pedestal surrounded by figures representing the law, culture and the peasants.
During the Russification of Finland from 1899 onwards, the statue became a symbol of quiet resistance, with people of Helsinki protesting to the decrees of Nicholas II leaving flowers at the foot of the statue of his grandfather, then known in Finland as "the good czar".
After Finland's independence in 1917, demands were made regarding the removal of the statue, and later, a suggestion was made that it should be replaced with the equestrian statue of Mannerheim (currently located along Mannerheimintie, near Eduskuntatalo). Nothing came of either of these suggestions, and today the statue is one of the major tourist landmarks on the city, standing as a monument to Finland's relationship with Imperial Russia.
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