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Whole Helsinki

Helsinki Cathedral tower opens to the public – in virtual reality

13.07.2018, 13:01
The view from the top of Helsinki Cathedral is spectacular. Many tourists to Helsinki as well as people living in the vicinity would be thrilled to see it, but the steps up to the top of the cupola are too narrow and difficult to allow for tours. This summer, for the first time ever, it is possible to take a virtual reality tour to the top of the Cathedral.

Visitors to Helsinki Cathedral can now rent, for a small fee, a virtual reality (VR) headset, either at the Cathedral Information desk or at the Cathedral Shop in the Bell Tower (Tapuli). Using the VR headset appears to transport you to the top of the cupola where you can marvel at the view in all directions. The VR experience also offers information about the Cathedral and the statues of the 12 Apostles that adorn the Cathedral roof. In this pilot phase of the VR experience, visitors can learn more about Helsinki Cathedral and the surrounding area in either Finnish or English.

‘We are often asked if visitors can go up the main tower of the Cathedral,’ says deputy vicar Suvi-Päivi Koski at the Helsinki Cathedral Parish. ‘Through this pilot app we can use new technologies to better serve both the people of Helsinki and its tourists. The VR experience gives visitors the opportunity to see the Church, the Apostles and the surrounding scenery from a viewpoint that is more than 80 metres above sea level.’

The Helsinki Cathedral VR experience was created by the Helsinki based virtual reality studio, Zoan. For several years now, they have worked on VR of the Finnish capital, producing reality-based VR experiences for, among others, the National Museum of Finland and the cruise line Tallink-Silja.

The use of virtual reality services is growing in the tourist industry,’ says Miikka Rosendahl, CEO of Zoan. ‘Virtual and augmented reality allows people access to hard-to-reach places, to take a peek into ancient history or the future, and can also enrich their experience with stories and visual elements.’

Helsinki Cathedral’s virtual reality experience was created using 360 videos and is accessed using Oculus Go VR headsets. The experience is suitable for adults and for children big enough to wear a VR headset.