TURKU

Guide of TURKU

Turku is on the southwest coast of Finland at the mouth of the Aura River. It is Finland’s sixth biggest, but oldest city. At one time it was the most important city in Finland, a status it retained for hundreds of years. After Finland became part of the Russian Empire in 1809, the capital was moved to Helsinki in 1812.

A brief history of Turku 

The city was founded at the end of the 13th century, making it the oldest city in Finland and the cathedral has origins dating back to 1300.  In the middle ages, the town was the unofficial capital with many members of royalty with residences here. In 1640, the first university in Finland, the Royal Academy of Turku, was founded in Turku. In 1809, Turku became briefly the official capital but soon lost the status to Helsinki, as Emperor Alexander I felt that Turku was too far from Russia and too aligned with Sweden to serve as the capital of the Grand Duchy.  In 1827 there was the Great Fire of Turku, which destroyed lots of the city, but afterwards, a new and safer city plan was drawn up by German architect Carl Ludvig Engel, who had also designed the new capital, Helsinki. In 1918, a new university, the Åbo Akademi – the only Swedish language university in Finland – was founded in Turku.

In the 20th century, Turku was called "Finland's gateway to the West" and had good connections with other Western European countries and cities. In the 1960s, Turku became the first Western city to sign a twinning agreement with Leningrad in the Soviet Union, leading to greater inter-cultural exchange and providing a new meaning to the city's 'gateway' function. After the fall of Communism in Russia, many prominent Soviets came to Turku to study Western business practices, among them Vladimir Putin! Today Turku is a notable commercial and passenger seaport with over three million passengers travelling through the Port of Turku each year to Stockholm and Mariehamn. The city is also a hotbed of experimental art and vibrant music festivals, designer boutiques and innovative restaurants thanks to the many  University students that populate the cafes and clubs.

Things to do in Turku

Turku Castle is one of the oldest buildings still in use and it is also the largest surviving medieval building in Finland. It was founded in the late 13th century and stands on the banks of the Aura River. Turku Cathedral is another great historic building and was previously the catholic cathedral of Finland; today it is known as the Mother Church of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland. It was originally built of wood I the 1300s but has been reconstructed many times over the years. The cathedral is situated in the heart of Turku next to the Old centre. Aboa Vetus and Ars Nova are a museum and art gallery. Ars Nova is a museum of contemporary art, housed in a building known as the Rettig palace, it was originally built in 1928.  Aboa Vetus is a museum that displays portions of the city dating back to medieval times. Turku Art Museum is an imposing, 20th-century museum housing notable Nordic, surrealist & pop art collections. If you want to be outside, then check out the Luostarinmäki Handicrafts Museum, it is an open-air museum that shows you how the town was a couple of hundred years ago. For a fun day trip with the kids, why not visit Moomin World in Naantali Island, close to Turku. It is a theme park based on the Moomins books by Tove Jansson. It features rides and activities with costumed characters, regular live shows and activities but it is only open in summer.

Beaches around Turku

Saaronniemi Beach is a lovely place, which features a park, a nice Café and free grill sites for cooking. The beach is sandy and the waters are shallow. Ekvalla Beach is also a sandy beach with easy bus connections from Turku, there are services and showers available in the summer. Ispoinen Beach is a great beach, equipped with lifeguards on duty during the summer holidays. Sauna and ice cream shop, it is easily accessible from Turku, by bus or cycling, there are also bikes to rent.

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