Welcome to Turku
Finland’s oldest city
The City of Turku has historically been Finland’s center of culture and civilization. In fact, it was the capital of Finland until 1812, when the Russian Czar Alexander I moved the capital to Helsinki (Finland had been ceded to the Russian Empire by Sweden after its defeat in a war). It was established in 1229, making it the oldest city in the country. Similarly, it also served as the home to Finland’s first university, the Academia Aboensis, founded in 1640.
It is also Finland’s spiritual center, home to the Turku Cathedral, built in the year 1300, and served as the residence of the Bishop of Finland since the Middle Ages, later elevated to Archbishop in the 1800’s.
Today, the city is home to three fine institutions of higher learning, which are The University of Turku, Abo Akademi and Turku University of Applied Sciences, where over 35,000 students are currently studying in various disciplines.
The University of Turku is a very highly-respected research institution, ranked at 201st place overall in the world rankings, while Abo Akademi is considered Finland’s most international university.
The Turku Science Park campus houses a quarter million cubic meters of office space, and provides approximately 14,000 jobs.
There are approximately 300,000 residents in the Turku region, with a population of over 177,000. It is a bilingual city, with Swedish as the second language after Finnish, as 5% of residents speak the Swedish language. Because of this, there are many institutions using Swedish, including Finland’s oldest theater, newspaper and university.
The percentage of residents who speak neither Finnish nor Swedish is 7%.
There are many cultural events organized in the city. For example, Europe’s second oldest music festival, “Ruisrock” takes place in Turku. There are also other music festivals and the city is home to the Turku Philharmonic Orchestra.
It is also known for literature, as many Finnish writers, poets and cartoonists come from Turku. In addition, the city is home to a new award-winning library.
For those who are interested in theatre, there are two large theaters, one of which is the city theatre, and the other is Abo Svenska Teater, the oldest theater in Finland.
For sports fans, the city is known for ice hockey and football, and sports in general. It is the home of Paavo Nurmi, a famous Finnish sportsman.
In 2011, the city was named one of Europe’s cultural capitals for the year, along with Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, having prepared for the nomination for 10 years. During the year, it hosted thousands of events, and it was meant to have a lasting effect on the city.
The transportation infrastructure in Turku is vast, and buses and trains are available to every major city in Finland. In addition, the harbor of Turku enables access to travel by cruiseship to various cities in Sweden and Tallinn in Estonia, for example, so it is also a great option for sightseeing, while surprisingly economical, costing normally under 40 Euros for a 4-person private cabin for one night! In fact, it is much cheaper to go to Estonia by cruise ship than plane, and many Finns do this, for example on weekends, in order to take advantage of lower prices for alcohol and other related goods and services in Estonia’s capital of Tallinn.
In fact, it has become so popular for Finns to bring back alcohol from these trips that the government has recently placed a limit on the amount of alcoholic beverages that can be brought into the country in this fahion, declaring all amounts above this limit as illegal smuggling and subject to large fines or even confiscation.
The nightlife in Turku is quite varied. The city is known for its interesting bars, which are sometimes remodeled from old buildings, such as “Uusi Apteekki”, meaning “New Apothecary”, or “New Pharmacy”, where the furniture and décor is just as one would have seen centuries ago in old-fashioned pharmacist’s shop. There are similar bars that were once schools or one that was even a bank, also named in the same way. Also, one of the most famous nightclubs is called “Apollo”, but there are many others as well.
Temperatures can vary greatly, between -36 C in the winter and 36 C in the summer. The warmest month is July, with an average temperature of 17 C.