24 Hours in Finland’s Former Capital, Turku
Posted on January 24, 2013 by sguese
On the western coast of Finland, the oldest city in Finland modestly rests. Turku was once the most important city in the country, known for being not only an ecclesiastical center but also a point of trade. The king of Sweden would even make Turku the seat of government. However once the Russians conquered Finland in 1808, the capital was relocated to be closer to Russia. The capital reject so to speak, Turku would face more rejection when a fire in 1827 took many of the old wood buildings. However Turku would rebuild, becoming a major port, industrial city and university town all in one. Who needs the title of capital? Turku doesn’t.
Turku is known for its more modern elements, but there are still those traces of the past despite moving capitals and fires. Turun Linn is proof of that fact, the town’s castle dating back to 1280. The castle once ruled the entire nation and still remains the largest medieval castle in the whole country. It was built on a small island at the mouth of the River Aura. Some of the most importance sections of the castle include the Porter’s Lodge, home to Finland’s first secular murals from 1530. The castle also holds the Historical Museum of Turku, visited mostly for its stunning castle in a mini-model version.
If you want to get a taste of Turku’s seafaring history, head to Forum Marinum. The fleet of museum ships moored on the River Aurajoki presents an extremely interactive museum for visitors. You can climb aboard the ships including the Sigyn, launched from Gothenburg in 1887, the Suomen Joutsen, the 1902 sailing ship and the Karjala, a ship used to battle Russia Bear in the 1940s.
Tuomiokirkko is the mother of all Lutheran churches in Finland. The Gothic Cathedral hails from the 1200s. It remains the greatest medieval monument in the entire country. Its brick structure was dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Many of the country’s bishops and warlords are buried in its vaults.
Close up the day in Turku by visiting the second most important art museum in Finland, Taidemuseo. The museum is home to 4,000 pieces of art, mainly hailing from the 19th and 20th centuries. It also holds around thirty works from Akseli Gallen Kallela, Finland’s national painter.
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