Helsinki City Hall, also called Kaupungintalo, didn’t always have an administrative purpose. In fact, it was originally designed as a cultural entertainment hotel by the famous German architect Carl Ludvig Engel back in 1833. The beautiful white and blue façade in the imperial style has remained, but today, most of the classical interiors have been replaced by more modern glass structures. In 1913, the former grand hotel was turned into Helsinki City Hall and although it has served as a hospital during the First World War, the building has since then hosted the offices of the mayor of Helsinki. There are also several other rooms for City Board and City Council meetings, which take place every other Wednesday in the council chamber.
If you love architecture, you can simply bring your camera and wander, but visitors are also able to attend various events and exhibitions inside the building. Vikra Gallery organizes photography exhibitions, movie screenings and concerts in the lobby and banquet hall. In the lobby you can also find quite a few paintings and sculptures, for example “the Chain,” a sculpture by Kimmo Trench showing the unity of the people of Europe, or Oscar Klineh’s famous painting of Helsinki.
The Helsinki City Hall opens Monday to Friday from 8:15am to 4pm. You can find the iconic building in the Kruununhaka district right next to the Kauppatori market square and to get there, take trams 1A or 2 to the Kauppatori station.