Aura River (aurajoki ) is a 70km long river that departs from Oripaa and flows into the archipelago through Turku. It actually splits Turku in two, even the old original town of Turku was founded on the east side of the river which still houses the cathedral and the university along with the Old Great Square while on the west side you can see the modern city centre with market square which is the central square. But on the west side near the harbor you can see the Turku Castle that dates back from 13th century too like the old cathedral.
The natural tree-lined promenade worth to be walked, from the cathedral down to the harbor is a scenic 3km long stroll where you can see several attractions, the city library, the pharmacy museum, the Waino Aaltonen Museum and near the harbor the old ships and marinum forum. But we walked only a small part of the riverfront because it was a rainy day and couldn’t really enjoy it. Along the river we noticed several tour boats, ferry café/restaurants etc.
Centraly located, on the banks of river Aura this is probably one of the most famous museums in Turku, actually with one ticket you have access to two different museums.
Aboa Vetus is the museum of history of Turku focusing on some underground ancient remains of the area and takes you through the history of Turku which was the first capital in Finland. I liked the fact that I was actually waling through the underground ruins which can be found underneath the main building (they discovered the ruins when they tried to expand the art gallery!) illuminating the life of ordinary citizens in Turku. There are a lot of activities focusing on small kids but it was interesting for us too. Dim lightning adds to the atmosphere as you visit the remains of medieval Turku (mainly cellars and basements of medieval buildings), much more interesting than to see single artifacts lying on a shelf. Helpful signs in English were also good and detailed so we didn’t wait for the guided tour.
Pic 3 shows a cat skeleton from 17th century.
Ars Nova is a museum of modern/contemporary art. I wasn’t impressed by the painting collection but the Ars Nova wasn’t my priority here so didn’t bother much and spent most of my 70 minutes visit in Aboa Vetus.
Pic 5 is a 1964 work of Katarina Reuter. It’s series of paintings, 16 pairs, on top paintings in ink represent direct observation and the oil paintings below represent a more private perception of a place.
It’s open daily 11.00-19.00
The entrance fee is 8euros (free with Turku card)
By the way I noticed much more people at museum’s restaurant than the gallery rooms, on Saturdays they have jazz brunch for about 17euros.
The cathedral (Tuomikokirkko) is the seat of Lutheran archbishop of Finland and country’s national shrine. Although it fails to impressive from outside although its towers rise up over the Aura river, the setting is nice with several benches around where you can rest for a while.
The original parish church was erected in late 13th century with wood when Turku was an important trading center. The area was called Sheep’s Knoll back then, a pagan worship ground.
The church was expanded in 14th and 15th centuries with stones but damaged during the Great fire of Turku in 1827 when most of the city’s buildings burnt. So what we see today is the cathedral that was rebuilt in 19th century, including the 101 meters high spire of the tower.
But when we got inside we loved it due to some nice beautiful details (of course there’s no comparison with cathedrals in Italy etc). Some side chapels but also the alter piece (depicting the Transfiguration of Jesus) worth to be seen along with some interesting romantic frescos. Many former kings have been buried here. Pic 5 shows the Chapel of Corpus Christi or the Tavast chapel.
Its open daily 9.00-20.00 (19.00 in winter)
There’s no entrance fee for the cathedral unless you want to visit the small museum (tuomiokirkkomuseo) upstairs featuring religious items.
After visiting Turku cathedral I headed to the Sibelius museum which is a few meters away, housed on a low modern concrete building. The museum was founded in 1926 by Otto Andersson.
Obviously the museum is dedicated to Jean Sibelius(1865-1957) the famous Finnish composer of late romantic period, I guess most of you know his composition Finlandia. The small exhibition goes through his life and work and gives some information about him as a national symbol of Finland. The main exhibition of the museum focusing on several different music instruments (about 1400!) from all over the world, some of them very old, I liked the early pianos and viols.
In june 2013 there was a special exhibition downstairs called Musica Cubana with lots of instruments, objects and photographs from Cuba.
The museum hosts chamber music concerts on its main hall on winter Wednesday evenings, that would be nice to see and add much more to the atmosphere, now I just walked around looking at dead instruments.
It’s open Tuesday to Sunday 11.00-16.00 (Wednesday also 18-20.00)
The entrance fee is 3euros (2013 price) (free with Turku card)
The best way to visit Turku Castle is to walk along Aura riverside from the city center down to the harbor, it’s a scenic 3km long route but that day was rainy so we just took the bus directly there.
Turku Castle (Turun linna ) dates back from 1280 (the larges surviving medieval building in Finland), originally a military fortress of swedish conquerors. It was expanded the next centuries with living quarters but the major expansion took place in 16th century. Modern renovation was completed in 1987 and now it’s the most popular attraction in Turku, no surprise it was the only place we saw many other visitors inside but again not so many to feel uncomfortable.
We toured on our own through its numerous renovated rooms , there are some beautiful banquet halls, churches, dungeons and numerous rooms that house furniture, jewelry, costumes, paintings ceramics etc Many will love the knights room where you can dress up. Although everything is well displayed the castle is large (much larger than you may expect by looking at the castle from outside) so you better focus on specific rooms or take a coffee/lunch break at museum’s restaurant and then keep on touring, many rooms contain nothing so just pass through.
There’s also a room with many miniature models of the castle that goes through the construction history of the castle. I love miniature models anyway so I enjoyed this room a lot.
It’s open Tuesday to sunday 10.00-18.00
The entrance fee is 8euros (free with Turku card), there is optional guided tour for 2euros but in almost every room there was someone explaining in depth about the hall’s history so I see no reason to take a guided tour
There’s a souvenir store and restaurant/café.
After visiting the Turku Castle we walked to Maritime Forum, we were interested about the ships outside much more but we had free entrance with the TurkuCard so we gave it a try. The museum tells the history of seafaring in SW Finland and of the Finnish Navy.
It was a bit boring for us but I guess people that are into different vessel types (as they say from Galley to Hovercraft) and archipelago culture will enjoy it a bit more or even get excited when they see a few hundred outboard engines. But we didn’t really care about Turku shipping companies, peasant or merchant shipping and I had the feeling of seeing a poor collection considering the fact Finland must have a long maritime history but I have to admit the videos, photos and radio recordings help a lot to get more from your visit although most explanations are only in finnish.
The museum also works as a maritime center and is housed in the Kruununmakasiini building, which was built in 1894 as a state granary. The gift store has some nice items.
It’s open daily 11.00-19.00 (October to april 11,00-18.00, closed on Mondays)
The entrance fee for the museum is 8euro, there’s also a combo ticket including entrance to the ships on the river(16e), free with Turku Card (21e, free access to every museum in Turku)
This was the main reason we visited Forum Marinum, a beautiful steel-hulled full rigged ship that is moored next to the museum on the river Aura.
The Suomen Joutsen (Swan of Finland) is considered as the national ship of Finland. We walked a bit on its decks and then got inside where we noticed many info boards (pic 3) that give tons of information about its history that goes way back before it became a museum ship in 1991. What I liked most were small info tips for exable about food on board, mostly dried, salted, smoked or alive (live pigs and chickens that could move freely on deck when the weather was fine).
It was constructed in 1902 known as Laennec for its French owners and was named after Rene Laennec a French doctor that invented the stethoscope! It was almost sunk during its maiden voyage after a collision with an englush steam ship but then managed to complete several long international voyages across the atlantic ocean but also down to Australia!
In 1922 was sold to Germans who renamed it as Oldenburg and became a school ship for the german merchant navy and then (1930) to Finnish Government. They named it Suomen Joutsen (after Finska Svan, a Swedish 16th century warship) and used it as a school ship for the Finnish Navy (1931-39) and then during WWII as a supply ship for Finnish submarines.
The Museum Ships are open daily 11.00-19.00 (june to September)
The entrance fee is 6euros, there’s also a combo ticket (16e) including entrance to all ships and the maritime museum, much better option to use TurkuCard that gives free entrance to every museum in Turku.
FNS Karjala was the second museum ship we visited. Much less attractive than Suomen Jotsen we just walked through but we felt a bit claustrophobic inside. It’s a Turunmaa class fast gunboat that was used by the Finnish Navy. It was launched in 1968 and decommissioned in 2002 when it turned into a museum ship. Nothing impressive inside, we checked the areas where the crew, worked, slept (pic 4) etc Of course outside you will be impressed by the anti aircraft cannons and other guns if you like this kind of things…
The Museum Ships are open daily 11.00-19.00 (june to September)
The Bore is also open during the winter season daily 11 a.m.–6 p.m.
This was a large park on the south banks of Aura river, we went there to visit Waino Aaltonen Museum of Art that was closed so we just took some photos of the sculptures outside and then walked uphill into the park.
Walking up the hill we’ve heard some US country music so we kept following the tunes to see what’s going on! We got closer and saw some stands selling beer and a windmill (!) where they told us a concert was taking place. We couldn’t get inside but we took some pictures around.
Market square (Turun kauppatori) is the main square in Turku and the starting point for all the local bus lines but also some regional buses. The square was busy during all day with people passing by, waiting for their bus but it’s interesting to be visited during the morning (mon-fri 7.00-18.00, sat till 15.00) when it houses an open air market with numerous stands, it was raining in the morning so we preferred to skip this and visited the square later in the evening. Back in 19th century the square was called Uusitori(New Square) opposied to the Old Great Square.
There are numerous stores around, small or big department stores, Hansa (pic 3) is the most famous but also lots of café and restaurants, on the north side of the square we found a rock/metal pub. Probably the only building that worth a picture is the Turku Orthodox church on the north side(pic 5). It was built between 1839-1945 by C.L.Engel and was dedicated to Alexandra (spouse of Diocletian) a Christian martyr from 303AD.
Ruisrock is the oldest rock-festival in Finland, and second oldest every year held rockfestival in whole Europe!
It´s held by the sea, and at good weather it is very lovely place. You can even go to swim there if you like. Because it´s close to sea, it can also e cold at night, so you may want to have long sleaves jacket or something with you.
In Finnish festivals it´s not allowed to bring alcohol, and in in Ruisrock they were very strickt about that. Police dog smelled your things also, just in case you have drugs.
But there are lots of places to buy alcohol if you like. And foodstands of course.
We have been here once, and liked it a lot. The one thing was cleanes. If you go to K-18 area (meaning agelimit is 18years) the toilets are cleaner even. But of course a heavy rain can spoil all the cleanes, and area became a mud park. We were lucky to have a sunny day :)
This is popular music happenig in Turku. Not like big festivals, but quite famous and it´s more a "city festival", not outside the city centre. There are concerst around the centre and the mainconcerts are mentioned at the link. The link is mostly in Finnish.
Most of bands and singers are Finnish, but there are some foreign ones too.
At the end of June to the first days of July, there is this Medieval happening in Turku. There´s medieval market, where you can buy handmade things from old times, and even eat medieval goods. You can see lots of happening around the city and many places you will meet people in medieval clothes.
If you go to Turku at this week, you may find it hard to find a hotel room. But there is also b&b:s and cheap hotels. If you know you´re going, try to book early!
I love medieval castles, and I have visited the castle several times. It´s one of the best kept castles in Finland. I think it´s great, that they haven´t renovated it too much, so it´s possible to see how well it has been kept over the years.
It has been served in different needs, been a prison, used as celebration of royal guests and so on. Today you can also rent some rooms from it if you want.
When the Turku keskiaikapäivät- (medieval days)happening is on, there is medieval dinner served here, and a party made medieval style.
Turku city museum is also inside the castle.
It´s not as common to find anything archeological in Finland, so when I heard about this first time, we made a trip to Turku right away!
I found it very interesting to walk underground at the streets of old Turku. It´s not so old as in Southern Europe, but anyway. It´s a part of our history. The ruins are not very high, but I found them interesting. There is also some things saved from old days. This place was found, when they started to make modern art museum. It is now at the same building.
I didn´t have camera with me in here.