The Finlandia Hall, Helsinki's leading concert and congress centre, is located in the center of Helsinki, not far from the Parliament, on the bank of Toolonlahtie Bay. The hall is meant for concerts, conferences and exhibitions and is suitable for symphony concerts and light entertainment as well as international congresses and small meetings.
The Finlandia Hall was built to the project of famous Finnish architect Alvar Aalto. Aalto's works combine national traditions and principles of functionalism and organic architecture. The hall perfectly combined with surrounding cityscape is one of Aalto's masterpieces.The main building of the hall was constructed in 1971, the congresses wing - in 1975. The tower-like main part of the building features an inclined roof and provides a resonance space overhead for better acoustics. The audience cannot see this space because of the suspended ceiling, but it creates the kind of acoustic effect that is characteristic of churches with high ceilings.
Finlandia Hall was the place for various world congresses and UN conferences. Numerous heads of state visited it, including US Presidents Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan and George Bush, Soviet Presidents Leonid Brezhnev and Mikhail Gorbachev, German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and French President Valery Giscard d'Estaing. Among other famous guests there were Prince Philip of England, Queen Beatrice of the Netherlands, the Dalai Lama, and numerous orchestras and musicians including prominent singers Jose Carreras and Luciano Pavarotti.
In 1975 the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe was held in the Finlandia Hall. The so-called Helsinki agreement (European cooperation and safety agreement) was signed here at that time.
In front of the Finlandia Hall there is the monument to Urho Kekkonen, President of Finland (1956-1981).