Turku is a city in the South-West of Finland, located by the sea and close to the Turku archipelago. In the city center you find a beautiful river which is a perfect place to chill out on a sunny day. You can walk along the riverbank, all the way to Turku castle. On the way you’ll see some ships and the big maritime museum.
Not to be missed is the handicraft museum. It sounds pretty dull, but is honestly one of the coolest historical museums I’ve seen. The Finnish know how to present history without singing you to sleep like my high school teachers did. It’s an open air museum with original houses that survived the big fire that went through Turku. Each house was decorated to portray a certain craft. There was the bakery, the post office, the rope maker, the clock maker and a whole lot of other things.
The beauty is that there are still people who know about these crafts and make the things the way they used to do some 200 years ago. A girl was working on a horn. With a knife she scraped off little bits, as if scraping a carrot. She was smoothing the surface so it could be used as a mug or a baby bottle. Not only was it interesting to see how people did things way back, the houses were also particularly beautiful. Although it might not be something you would think of visiting, it’s a great place to go.
A visit to Turku castle is good activity to fill the morning. In the courtyard was a big wooden door that led into the castle. The reception was in a big hall and with my limited Finnish I bought a ticket. Than the lady asks me something with a lot of words I don’t know. I think I was staring at her, but at least that made her repeat it in English. She gives me some information about the castle that I can borrow during my self guided walk. It has descriptions of all the rooms.
Turku Castle is old, built around 1300, and the passages can be quite low. It started out small, but has been expanded over the years. It wasn’t until 1600 that the castle reached its current size. It has been occupied by the Swedes and the Russians and kept being adapted to their wishes. There are little passageways everywhere. I felt like I was in one of the dreams I had as a kid, where my bedroom was connected to all these secret places.
Some rooms still had old paintings on the walls, some had weapons on display or beautifully restored ceilings. The castle even had its own church. The last few rooms had a display with clothes, toys and dining sets. I definitely hadn’t expected it to be so big.
I loved my weekend in Turku. To make it absolutely perfect, you can hire a bicycle and ride into nature. I did a loop around the Island Ruissalo, which used to be the hunting grounds of Turku castle. It’s absolutely beautiful, but more about that in another post. The HI hostel in town is a nice place to stay, altough it doesn’t look like much from the outside.