After a quick tour at Uspenski Cathedral, our next stop was the Senate Square (Finnish: Senaatintori) in the centre of Helsinki. The square is dominated by 4 buildings designed by Carl Ludvig Engel between 1822 and 1852: Helsinki Cathedral, the Government Palace, the main building of the University of Helsinki and the National Library of Finland. It is now 159 years old (in 2011).
Just a bit of Finnish history for your information, Finland was historically a part of Sweden, and from 1809–1917 was an autonomous Grand Duchy within the Russian Empire. From 1899 onwards, the statue of Emperor Alexander II became a symbol of quiet resistance, with people of Helsinki protesting to the decrees of Nicholas II leaving flowers at the foot of the statue of his grandfather, then known in Finland as “the good czar”. After Finland became independent in 1917, there were demands to remove the statue, or even replaced with another statue. However nothing came out of these suggestions, and hence the statue still remain in the centre of the square today, as a monument to Finland’s relationship with Imperial Russia.