photo © Discovering Finland
Tourism Turku & Turku Guide
Finland’s oldest city, and it’s gateway to the West, Turku is a thriving city whose rich cultural heritage is complemented by its forward-looking people. Of the many great sights here, Turku Castle (the largest surviving medieval castle in all of Scandinavia) and Turku Cathedral are perhaps the most popular. Turku has almost 20 museums, including the Kylämäki Village of Living History and The Sibelius museum, which is the only museum totally devoted to music in Finland. It’s packed events calendar includes the oldest rock festival in Europe, Ruisrock, a city festival (Down By The Laituri), and the Turku Music Festival which attracts internationally acclaimed classical musicians every year.
Turku covers an area of 245 sq km, spread over both sides of the river. On the eastern side, known locally as ‘this side of the river’, is the beautiful Cathedral of Turku which was consecrated in 1300. This building, along with the Dominican monastery and Turku Castle led to the city playing the central role in Finnish medieval life. Thanks to its rich heritage, Turku is one of the most visited cities in Finland, with close to 4 million passengers coming through the port every year.
Visitors to Turku have a wealth of historical and cultural sites to discover and explore, chief of which is Turku Castle. This imposing edifice was built in the late 13th century, and today remains the largest surviving medieval castle in all of Scandinavia. The Luostarinmäki Handicrafts Museum is located in the ‘old town’, which is the only section of Turku that survived the devastating fire that destroyed the town in 1827, and preserves many old houses exactly as they were built. Also very popular with tourists is the Wäinö Aaltonen Museum of Art, where exhibitions ranging from classical to contemporary may be seen. Just outside the city, you can gain an insight into the religious and social structures and practices of the Bronze Age at the Sammallahdenmäki Burial Site, where over 30 granite burial cairns can be explored.
Turku also gives access to the incredible Finnish archipelago, a network of thousands of islands stretching all along the southern Finnish coast, many of which are interlinked via an uncomplicated network of bridges and roads. The last passenger steamship in the Finnish sea area, the SS Ukkopekka, offers a wide selection of services, including daily cruises to Naantali, evening dinner and entertainment cruises, and an excellent archipelagian kitchen.
Ever since the Middle Ages, Christmas in Finland doesn’t officially begin until the Declaration of Peace takes place in Turku on December 25th, which begins with the recital of Martin Luther’s hymn ‘A Mighty Fortress is our God’. The declaration is read from a parchment roll just before noon from the Cathedral, and is broadcast live on television and radio.