Senate Square is the central square of Helsinki, a real heart of the city. The architectural ensemble of Senate Square was created by Carl Ludvig Engel, a talented Russian architect of German descent. Senate Square with its surroundings forms one of the best European ensembles in neoclassical style. Mainly due to it Helsinki was called "White Capital of North" in the XIX-th century.
In the XVII-th century a city square with magistrate, church and burghers' houses was in the place of Senate Square. In 1812 when Helsinki became Finland's capital decision this place was chosen as a future administrative center of the city. The development's project was designed by Juhan Albrecht Erenstrom, a native of Helsinki. The chief architect of the development became Carl Ludvig Engel.
The Lutheran cathedral with wide granite steps dominates over all Senate Square. This impressive building in Empire style was built under Engel's project and finished already after the architect's death.
The building of the Senate (nowadays - the State Council) was constructed in 1822. It is located at the eastern side of the square. The Senate was built in traditional classic style. Its facade is decorated with the oldest in Finland public clock.
The Throne Hall (now - Presidential Hall) decorated in the Empire style is placed above the main entrance. Even nowadays the Government of Finland works here. There is no public access to the State Council's building.
The main structure of the Helsinki University is situated in front of the State Council, at the western side of Senate Square.
The building in the Empire style was constructed in 1832 to Engel's project. Its facade is decorated with ionic columns.
The University Library adjacent to the University was built in 1844. Its building is considered to be one of most beautiful Engel's masterpieces. The bronze bust of Russian Emperor Alexander I is placed in a square in front of the library.
Another monument of Emperor Alexander II occupies Senate Square's center. The monument created by famous Finnish sculptor Walter Runeberg was opened in 1894. The Emperor's statue is surrounded with four allegoric sculptures - Law, Peace, Light and Labour.
Burghers' houses built in the XVIII-th century are also located at Senate Square. After reconstruction the houses were given to various public offices except of the first floor traditionally occupied by shops, cafe and restaurants.