photo © Uusikaupunki
Tourism Uusikaupunki & Uusikaupunki Guide
A charming coastal town, Uusikaupunki has a proud maritime tradition and during the 19th century the sailing fleet based here was the second largest in Finland. This tradition can be explored in the numerous maritime themed museums, and by visiting the harbours of the old town. Today it boasts an excellent guest harbour, Pakkahuone, voted the best in Finland on three occasions. Vistors can also take cruises in the archipelago to Isokari Lighthouse and Katanpää Fort Island, or enjoy a trip on the 100 year old Gaff Schooner Joanna Saturna or the 23-metre Brigantine Mary Ann, or explore the towns history via the 4km Promenade of Cultural History. Other highlights should include a visit to the Myllymäki Windmill Park and St. Olaf’s Church. Crusell Week, or Uusikaupunki Woodwind Festival, is held annually and attracts visitors from all of Finland and abroad.
Despite its name, which means ‘new town’ in Finnish, Uusikaupunki is a town rich in history and almost 400 years old having gained its charter in 1617. Its age can be measured by the churches here, the newest was built in 1863 and the oldest dates back to the 1400s. The town was also where the peace treaty of the Great Northern War was signed in 1721. Today it is the automotive centre of Finland, over a million cars have been manufactured here since the 1960s, and the port is an important gateway to the west for cars and other goods, providing quick shipping routes to Sweden and Germany.
Uusikaupunki’s fine tradition of seafaring can be seen in the museums here. It had the second largest fleet in Finland in the 19th century, evidence of which is on display in the numerous maritime themed museums in the town, in particular the Seaman’s Home Museum and the Naval Pilot Museum. The Museum of Cultural History is also worth a visit, and war historians will find plenty to pique their interest in the Dugout Museum where they can see how Finnish soldiers lived during the Winter and Continuation wars, as well as lots of other military paraphernalia.
Uusikaupunki has also managed to preserve its old town centre, and visitors should take the opportunity to stroll around this extensive wooden house district dating from the 19th century. To really get to know the town’s past take a walk along the Promenade of Cultural History, a 4km meander which takes the visitor past many of the historically important sites in the town. A brochure can be picked up from the local tourist office which provides a map and a small description of 28 attractions along the route. Another point of interest is the Myllymäki Windmill Park, a hill where you can explore four historic windmills, relax in the gardens and arboretum, and let the children loose in the playground. There is also an old observation tower, 50m above sea level, which you can visit by borrowing the key from the Tourist Information Office.
There are six churches in and around Uusikaupunki that are worth visiting, the oldest of which is St. Olaf’s grey stone church in Kalanti village, dating from the 1400s. The Old Church of Uusikaupunki, completed in 1629, is one of the more interesting buildings in the town, having a barrel vaulted ceiling decorated in stars. The Hidden Church of Putsaari is a small wooden chapel, probably built in the early 17th century, as was the Sacrifice Church of Pyhämaa, which is also wooden and decorated with numerous murals on the interior walls and ceiling. The Church of Lokalahti from 1763 is also wooden, with a very interesting steeple and belfry, and the newest church is suitably named The New Church of Pyhämaa, a granite building from 1804 with an altarpiece by Arvid Liljelund.
The Uusikaupunki Woodwind Festival, or Crusell Week, is an annual internationally recognised festival dedicated to woodwind instruments where musicians from Finland and beyond gather at the end of July and beginning of August for a series of concerts performed in a number of different venues. Finally, no visitor to Uusikaupunki should miss out on a visit to the Bonk Center, the only permanent exhibition for non-functioning apparatus which styles itself as a world leader in Third Millennium technologies such as ‘fully Defunctioned Machinery, Cosmic Therapy, Repacking, Advanced Disinformation Systems and Localised Black Holes’!!