Michael's Church

Puistokatu 16

20 min walk or bus number 4 from the Market Square

Phone +358 2 261 7110
Fax +358 2 261 7112

Open in summer 2013 Mon-Fri 10am - 6pm (Jun 3rd - Aug 30th), Sat 10am - 1 pm (May 11th - Aug 31st), Sun 11am - 1pm (Jun 2nd - Aug 25th)

Usually a guide in summer time.

In winter open only in connection with services.

Service in Finnish on Sundays at 10 am.

The western skyline of the city of Turku is dominated by Michael's Church which was consecrated in 1905. It was designed by Professor Lars Sonck. When he won the competition for the church in 1894, Sonck was only a 23-year old architectural student.

Michael's church is a distinguished example of the neogothic style in architecture. It is a long church with three aisles, galleries and a multifaceted choir. In addition to the main entrance there are also doors at each corner of the church. The sacristy is situated behind the choir. The main spire rises to a height of 77 meters from the foundations.

The main building material of the walls of the church is red brick. The roof is made of grey green slate from Norway. But the majority of the material used in the construction of the church are native materials from Finland. For the foundations, the stone steps, and the walls, natural stone was quarried not far from Turku.

Even before the construction work started, Sonck wanted to make considerable changes to his winning design. But the church council did not agree to the proposed changes. In fact only minor detail changes were made to the facade. As for the interior, however, Sonck got a much freer hand to make changes from his original drawings. This is clearly seen in the deviations from the style of the times: Jugend follows Gothic and National Romanticism.

Max Frelander the architect, who worked as an assistant to Sonck, has contributed to the interior design. A rich Jugend ornamentation decorates both the interior, the staircases and the windows. The altar, the pulpit, the altar rail, and the window frame are all made of Finnish soapstone. The central motif of the altar is a cross, on whose base there is a symmetrical carving of two serpents. Also on the corner level of the altar rail there are rings of twisting serpents. The top of the cross is ornamented with a dove, the symbol of the Holy Spirit. The Jugend windows of the choir, which depict Finnish pine, were destroyed in a bombing raid during the Finnish Winter War (1939-1940). The national romantic movement is particularly dominant in the design of the choir. Motifs from Finnish nature are associated with traditional Christian symbolism.

The original window paintings, which were destroyed during the Winter War, were by the artist Willy Baer. The new ones were obtained in 1953. These were designed and done by the artists Hilkka Toivola and Otso Karpakka. The principal subjects of these works of art that were made in the Paris glass painting studio of Jean and Pierre Gaudin, are "the Good Shepherd" and "Faith, Hope, and Charity". Along with the new windows the stylistic unity of the interior of the church disappeared. Consequently, in the 1950's other changes were made in the interior design of the church to match the Gothic exterior. First the decorative paintings of the choir and the arch of triumph were painted over, and later the wall paintings in the body of the church and the staircases. However, the original decorative pictures were restored in connection with the general repair work on the church that was carried out in 1964-65.

Michael's Church underwent a thorough renovation in the 1980's. First, an exterior repair work was carried out in 1984-85. The decayed exterior brick work and the roof were completely rebuilt. Reconditioning of the interior was done in 1985-87. First the sacristy of the church was retumed to its original condition. After this came the main body of the church and the staircase. The ceiling and the interior wall surfaces were carefully cleaned of grime of decades. The decorative designs were repaired and returned to their original paint finish or painted afresh. Floors were resurfaced with a new limestone finish. The acoustics of the church, which had proved a problem, was improved. In connection with this renovation work, a basic restoration of the 48 pipe mechanical organ made in Kangasala in 1965 was also done. The work was carried out by the organ builders Veikko Virtanen Ltd.

The church bells have rung out from the main spire since 1931, and they were a gift from Edla and Hjalmar Aarnio. Reino Lehto made a gift to the church of the model ship hanging from the gallery. Kaarina Lehmussaari, lecturer in textiles, donated a new decorated altar cloth.

Michael's Church is older than Michael's parish. The parish only dates back to 1921. The name Lars Sonck gave to his winning design, "SOLI DEO GLORIA AETERNA" -To the eternal glory of God - succintly expresses both the purpose and the function of the church.