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About city Gallery Where to stay

Turku, a port city in the southwestern part of Finland, was built in the 13th century and is considered to be the oldest city in the country. When the Swedish occupied Finland, Turku became its capital, and the city remained the most important Finnish settlement until the beginning of the 19th century (Helsinki became Finland’s capital as late as 1812).

Turku was declared the 2011 European Capital of Culture for a reason – the city has always been the country’s cultural centre, custodian of many historical monuments and one of the chief contributors to Finland’s prosperity. In 1542, the first book in Finnish was published here; 1640 saw the building of the first university and the release of the first typography; while 1722 was marked by the publication of the first newspaper. The city also has its own airport.

Sunset in the vicinity of Turku
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  Sunset in the vicinity of Turku

Tourists who come to Turku always visit the Aboa Vetus Museum, which mostly consists of a medieval district; the biology museum-diorama, which exhibits 30 species of mammals and over 130 species of birds living in their natural environment; and the Forum Marinum Maritime Centre, chock-full of different ship models and all the information on seamanship in the Baltic Sea you could possibly want.

Another interesting place to visit in Turku is the Folk Museum with its rustic house-workshops and the home of a merchant named Kvansel, reminiscent of the ancient atmosphere of Turku. Everyone should also visit Finland’s main church – the Cathedral of Turku – which serves as the final resting place of the Queen Karin Månsdotter, counts of military leaders, famous Swedes and Lutheran priests.

View on a harbour with yachts
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  View on a harbour with yachts

The locals of Turku call the nearby sea the Archipelago Sea due to the thousands of differently-sized islands that surround it. The Archipelago of Turku is considered to be the largest one in the world – some of the islands are fairly large and inhabited, while others are basically just rocks protruding from the water.

Every summer in July one of the islands of the archipelago, Ruissala, hosts one of the oldest European rock music festivals, called Ruisrock. The festival, which attracts thousands of people every year, is spread out over several stages where bands play simultaneously. The music is usually so loud that it can be heard on the neighbouring islands.

Since, keeping with ancient tradition, Finnish Christmas is announced in Turku, it’s considered to be the most ‘Christmasy’ settlement in the country. Every year at noon on the 24th of December, a special herald begins to talk about ‘Christmas peace’ and invites people to get along with each other, avoid arguments and even refrain from ‘using bad words’, even though the situation doesn’t really call for it.

Christmas is also announced by the cathedral’s bell (tradition calls for the hourly bell toll to be broadcast on the radio station Jule Radio 1), the main Christmas tree is erected and various festivities commence.

Turku Cathedral, Finland
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  Turku Cathedral, Finland

Christmas fairs of the main city square begin far in advance of Christmas. Here you can not only buy souvenirs and other presents for your loved ones, but also experience the kind of atmosphere that was prevalent in this square a good hundred years ago. Kids meet the Finnish Santa Claus, Joulupukki, and get their wishes entered into the special Book of Wishes by the dwarf named Jukka.

The environs of Turku are very well suited for family holidays – here you’ll find the best-known Finnish entertainment and water parks. Every year thousands of tourists come here with their kids to visit the Moomin Valley, located just 16 km from Turku.

Enthusiasts of active recreation will appreciate the Flowpark with is different height (3- to 14-metre-) rope tracks, nets and barrels. Teenagers especially like the Vaski Adventure Island with its pirate fortress, sunken ships and the Eagle Nest, which they are encourage to climb into.

Where to stay

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