I spent this past weekend in Turku, Finland. This city, located on the southwest coast of Finland, was founded at the end of the thirteenth century. When Sweden ceded Finland to Imperial Russia at the end of the Finnish War in 1809, Turku remained the capital for only three years. Helsinki became the new capital of the Grand Duchy of Finland in 1812. Emperor Alexander I moved the capital to Helsinki because of its closer proximity to Russia. Moreover, Turku had an uncomfortably close relationship with Sweden.
While Turku is the oldest city in Finland, nearly all of the city was destroyed in the Great Fire of Turku in 1827. Much of the city was rebuilt after this event but there are still traces of its Medieval roots in the Turku Cathedral, consecrated in 1300, as well as the Castle. The German Architect C. L. Engel, who also designed Senate Square in Helsinki and worked in Tallinn, helped restore the city. The new city plan was made on a grid like many American cities.
Turku and Tallinn, the capital city of Estonia, were nominated the Culture Capital of Europe for 2011. A recent article in the New York Times highlights some of this beautiful city’s offerings.
Shadows on a building across from the library
University of Turku
An average street
Apartments along the Aura River
The Aura River
The gate outside the library
Public Art outside the Ars Nova
The Ars Nova Cafe