Turku, in Swedish Åbo (IPA , ) is a city and the original capital of Finland on the southwest coast of Finland at the mouth of the Aura river(). Turku is part of the Finland Proper region in the Province of Western Finland. It is believed that the city was settled in the late 13th century, making it the oldest city in Finland. Until the 1840s it was also the largest city in Finland.
Turku is the main city in its region as well as the cultural and economic centre of Western Finland. Turku is the capital of both the Finland Proper region and the Province of Western Finland. Of the central governmental bodies that used to operate in Turku at the time when Finland was under the rule of Sweden, only the seat of the Archbishop of Finland remains in the city today. Turku has been designated by the European Capital of Culture for the year 2011, together with Tallinn, Estonia.
As of 31 August 2008 Turku’s population was 175 279, which makes it the fifth largest city in Finland by population. There were 303 492 inhabitants living in the Turku sub-region, which makes it the third largest urban area in Finland after the Greater Helsinki area and Tampere sub-region. The city is officially bilingual as 5.2 percent of its population identify as speaking Swedish as a mother-tongue. Due to its location, Turku is a notable commercial and passenger seaport city with around 3.7 million passengers travelling through its seaport each year.
Although archaeological findings in the area date back to the Stone Age, Turku in its current location was founded no earlier than the late 13th century. Its name originated from an Old East Slavic word, tǔrgǔ, meaning "market place". The Cathedral of Turku was consecrated in 1300, and together with Turku Castle and the Dominican monastery (founded in 1249), established the city as the most important location in medieval Finland.
During the Middle Ages, Turku was the seat of the Bishop of Turku (a title later upgraded to Archbishop of Turku), covering the then eastern Sweden (most of the present-day Finland) until the 17th century. It was the only city in Finland to trade with the Hanseatic League. Even if Turku had no official capital status, both the Dukes and Governors-General of Finland usually had their Finnish residences there. In 1640, the first university in Finland, The Royal Academy of Turku, was founded in Turku. Turku was also the meeting place for the States of Finland in 1676.
After the Finnish War, which ended when Sweden ceded Finland to Imperial Russia at the Treaty of Fredrikshamn in 1809, Turku became briefly the official capital, but soon lost the status to Helsinki, as Emperor Alexander I felt that Turku was too far from Russia and too aligned with Sweden to serve as the capital of the Grand Duchy of Finland. The change officially took place in 1812. The government offices that remained in Turku were finally moved to the new capital after the Great Fire of Turku, which almost completely destroyed the city in 1827. After the fire, a new and safer city plan was drawn up by German architect Carl Ludvig Engel, who had also designed the new capital, Helsinki. Turku remained the largest city in Finland for another twenty years.
In 1918, a new university, the Åbo Akademi – the only Swedish language university in Finland – was founded in Turku. Two years later, the Finnish language University of Turku was founded alongside it. These two universities are the second and third to be founded in Finland.
In the 20th century Turku was called "Finland's gateway to the West" by historians such as Jarmo Virmavirta. The city enjoyed good connections with other Western European countries and cities, especially since the 1940s with Stockholm across the Gulf of Bothnia. In the 1960s, Turku became the first Western city to sign a twinning agreement with Leningrad in the Soviet Union, leading to greater inter-cultural exchange and providing a new meaning to the city's 'gateway' function. After the fall of Communism in Russia, many prominent Soviets came to Turku to study Western business practices , among them Vladimir Putin, then Leningrad's deputy mayor.
In the 1960s and 1970s, Turku displayed unprecedented rates of growth , resulting in the construction of many new densely-inhabited suburbs such as Varissuo and Runosmäki, and the annexation of many neighbouring municipalities (e.g., Maaria and Paattinen). Many old quarters were completely destroyed in the process, replacing them with more efficient and faster-built concrete buildings. The city's growth has led to problems with unemployment in the new populous suburbs on the one hand, and with the provision of public services (such as education) in more remote parts on the other.
Located at the mouth of the Aura river in the southwestern corner of Finland, Turku covers an area of 245 km² (94 sq mi) of land, spread over both sides of the river. The eastern side, where the Cathedral of Turku is located, is popularly referred to as täl pual jokke ("this side of the river"), while the western side is referred to as tois pual jokke ("the other side of the river"). The city centre is located close to the river mouth, on both sides of the river, though development has recently been expanding westward.
There are nine bridges over the Aura river in Turku. The first bridge in the city area, known as Pennisilta, was built in 1414, and has since been demolished. The oldest of the current bridges is Auransilta, which was constructed in 1904. The newest bridge is Teatterisilta ('theatre bridge'), a pedestrian-only bridge built in 1997. One of the best-known landmarks of Turku is the Föri, a small ferry that transports pedestrians and bicycles across the river without payment.
With a population of approximately 300,000 , the Turku Region (LAU 1) is the third largest urban region in Finland, after Greater Helsinki and the area around Tampere. The region includes, in addition to the city itself the following municipalities: Askainen, Kaarina, Lemu, Lieto, Masku, Merimasku, Mynämäki, Naantali, Nousiainen, Paimio, Piikkiö, Raisio, Rusko, Rymättylä, Sauvo, Vahto, and Velkua.
A more exclusive definition for the urban area is the city region of Turku with a population around 235,000 consisting of four major municipalities Kaarina, Raisio, Naantali and Turku.
As many of the small neighbouring municipalities from the north and south of the city were annexed during the mid-20th century, Turku is today shaped like an elongated pear. The city centre and most of the suburban areas lie in the middle, separated from the less densely populated northern rural areas by the Turku bypass, that forms part of European route E18. Islands such as Ruissalo, Hirvensalo and Kakskerta, forming the southern part of the city, are also sparsely populated and mostly contain summer residences, with the exception of some districts in Hirvensalo which are currently growing into upper-middle-class suburbs.
Precipitation in Turku averages 633 mm (25 inches) a year. The rainiest month of the year is August, when the city receives on average 85 mm (3.4 inches) of rainfall. In March, the driest month of the year, the figure is only 29 mm (1.1 inches). The average air pressure at sea level is 1012 millibars, with little variance throughout the year.
Climate in Turku in 2007:
The city council and city board have long been dominated by the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and the National Coalition Party (Kokoomus), with approximately equal representation. Currently, the council has 67 members, with 19 from Kokoomus and 18 from SDP. The other major parties in the council are the Left Alliance (10 seats) and the Green League (9). The current chair of the city board is Pekka Ruola from Kokoomus.
Olavi Mäenpää, chairman of the far-right organisation Suomen Kansan Sinivalkoiset (SKS) and a prominent figure in Turku's municipal politics, has provoked some controversy in the local media. In the last municipal elections in 2004, he received more votes than any other candidate in Turku.
For a city of its size, Turku has a moderate public transportation network of bus routes. The bus network is managed and supervised by the City of Turku Public Transport Office, and is operated mainly by private companies. All the major districts are served by buses every ten to fifteen minutes during the day, some even more frequently. Regional buses are operated by private companies, most importantly TLO, with very frequent services especially to the neighbouring cities of Naantali, Raisio, and Kaarina.
Rail traffic to and from Turku is handled by the Finnish national carrier, VR. As with most other Finnish cities, railways were an important method of transportation in the first half of the 20th century, but have since seen a sharp fall in popularity. As a result, the number of services has fallen and only the railways towards Tampere and Helsinki are now in use. The railway stations currently used for passenger traffic are the Turku Central railway station in Pohjola, and two smaller stations in Kupittaa and the Port of Turku.
There is no local rail traffic at the moment, as the city's popular tram services were discontinued in 1972, and the various local railway lines to neighbouring towns and municipalities were all abolished during the late 20th century. However, there are plans for a light rail system in the Turku region in the near future. This system would more ably serve major suburbs of the city such as Varissuo and Runosmäki, as well as the neighbouring cities.
Bus network used today has become highly uneconomical and the ticket prices has been raised repeatedly. Growing expenses and worsening traffic problems are main issues that have put trams back under consideration as well as bus lanes. State of Finland has announced to support Espoo with 30 % of full expenses on new metro rail, Regional Council of Southwest Finland is going to use this as an example in case new light rail network will be built in Turku. :
The Turku Bus Station and the Turku Central Railway Station are currently located in different places. City of Turku is planning to combine those two in new greater station complex in near future. This new travel center will consist a hotel and several shopping estates. This center will connect all public transports from commuter train to long distance buses.
There are also daily ferry services from the Port of Turku to Sweden and Åland, operated by Silja Line, Viking Line and SeaWind Line. These are something of a Finnish cultural tradition (see ruotsinlaiva), and people often travel long distances across Finland to Turku just to take a cruise across the Gulf of Bothnia.
89.4 % of Turku's population speak Finnish as their native language, while 5.2 % speak Swedish. The next most widely spoken languages are Russian (1.3 %), Arabic (0.6 %), Albanian (0.5 %), and Kurdish (0.4 %). 95.8 % of the population are Finnish citizens, and the most sizeable minorities are from Russia, Estonia, Iraq, and Iran. Like all other Finnish cities, Turku does not collect information about the ethnic and religious makeup of its population.
Famous people from the city of Turku include Paavo Nurmi, Mauno Koivisto, Saku Koivu and the 18th century botanist, Herman Spöring. The Turku region has also brought forth many prominent personalities, including the marshal, Carl Gustaf Mannerheim.
Turku is the birthplace to a number of prominent National Hockey League players including Saku Koivu, Mikko Koivu, Miikka Kiprusoff, Sami Salo, Aki-Petteri Berg, Petteri Nummelin and Antero Niittymäki.
Business district in The city's economy is centred around the Port of Turku and other service-oriented industries. 86% of the city's workforce are employed in the services sector. The city is also a renowned high-tech centre – the Turku Science Park area in Kupittaa hosts over 300 companies from the fields of biotechnology and information technology, as well as several institutions of higher learning that work in closely with the business sector. One of the examples of high information technology in Turku area is OpenSpark Finlands largest WiFi community which Turku also uses. This cooperative element is seen as a particularly important factor with regards to the city's expected future economic development, as outlined in the Turku Strategy that is published annually by the city council. Turku, with its good transportation network and close proximity to the Archipelago Sea, is also an important centre for tourism, frequently hosting various conventions and exhibitions.
As of 2007, the city's unemployment rate is 8.8 %, one of the lowest amongst the ten biggest cities in Finland. The problem of unemployment is particularly troublesome in the districts of Pansio, Lauste, and Varissuo, where it hovers at around 16 %.
The city collects an 18 per cent income tax (council tax) from its inhabitants, in addition to the progressively graduated taxation practised by the Finnish state. The total amount received through council tax in 2004 was projected at €400 million, a reduction of 1.0 per cent from the previous year. Taxes collected from corporations amounted to €39 million in 2004.
Turku has a longer educational history than any other Finnish city – the first school in the city, the Cathedral School, was founded along with the Cathedral of Turku in the late 13th century. The first university in Finland, the "The Royal Academy of Turku" (now University of Helsinki), was established in the city in 1640. In 1820, the first school in Finland conforming to the Bell-Lancaster method was founded in Turku with the aim of making primary education more inclusive to the lower classes.
Nowadays, the University of Turku is the second largest university in Finland (18,000 students), as measured by student enrolment, and one of the oldest as well, having been founded in 1920. Turku is also home to several other establishments of higher education, namely Åbo Akademi, Finland's only Swedish-language university, Turun kauppakorkeakoulu (Turku School of Economics), and Turun ammattikorkeakoulu (Turku University of Applied Sciences) which is second largest polytechnic in Finland after Metropolia University of Applied Sciences.
The central hospital of Turku, Turku University Hospital, is affiliated with the University and it is used as a teaching hospital.
Turku is one of only two cities in Finland to have an established international school (the other city being Helsinki). Turku International School, functioning in the eastern district of Varissuo, has been operational since 2003.
The newspaper, Turun Sanomat, also operates a regional television station, called Turku TV. The Finnish national broadcaster, Yleisradio, screens local news, daily from Monday to Friday, for the Southwest Finland (including the regions of Finland Proper and Satakunta) residents. All Finnish national TV channels are viewable in the Turku area. In addition, a number of local radio stations, eg Auran Aallot and Radio Sata are operational.
Cultural venues in Turku include several theatres, cinemas, and art galleries, and a city philharmonic orchestra. The city's cultural centre organises a number of regular events, most notably the Medieval Market in July each year. Turku is also the official Christmas city of Finland, and 'Christmas Peace' in Finland is declared on every 24 December at the Cathedral of Turku. The Turku Music Festival and the rock festival Ruisrock (held on the island of Ruissalo) are among the oldest of its kind in Scandinavia. The city also hosts another rock festival, Down by the Laituri, and one of the largest electronic music festivals in Northern Europe, UMF (Uuden Musiikin Festivaali, "New Music Festival"), in addition to a vibrant nightlife, all centred around HumPub in Humalistonkatu.
There are also numerous museums, such as the Turku Art Museum and the Wäinö Aaltonen Museum of Art. The Åbo Akademi University maintains the Sibelius museum, which is the only museum in Finland specialising in the field of music. Apart from these, there are also several historical museums that display the city's medieval period, such as the Turku Castle, which has been a functional historical museum since 1881, and the Aboa Vetus museum, built in the late 1990s over the 14th century archaeological site. The Luostarinmäki handicrafts museum, converted from residential buildings that survived the Great Fire of Turku in 1827, was the first Scandinavian venue to receive the "Golden Apple" tourism award.
Turku is a candidate city for European Capital of Culture in 2011, and the city council has approved numerous projects to boost the city's image in preparation for that status.
The Declaration of Christmas Peace has been a tradition in Finland from the Middle Ages every year, except in 1939 due to the Winter War. The declaration takes place on the Old Great Square of Turku, Finland's official 'Christmas City', at noon on Christmas eve. It is broadcast in Finnish radio (since 1935) and television, and nowadays also in some foreign countries.
The declaration ceremony begins with the hymn Jumala ompi linnamme (Martin Luther's Ein' feste Burg ist unser Gott) and continues with the Declaration of Christmas Peace read from a parchment roll in Finnish and Swedish:
"Tomorrow, God willing, is the graceful celebration of the birth of our Lord and Saviour; and thus is declared a peaceful Christmas time to all, by advising devotion and to behave otherwise quietly and peacefully, because he who breaks this peace and violates the peace of Christmas by any illegal or improper behaviour shall under aggravating circumstances be guilty and punished according to what the law and statutes prescribe for each and every offence separately. Finally, a joyous Christmas feast is wished to all inhabitants of the city."
Ice hockey is very popular sport in Turku. The local club TPS (which is part of the same organisation as the football team) plays in the sport's top level in Finland, the SM-liiga. It is based at Turkuhalli to the southwest of the city centre. TPS has won the Finnish ice hockey championship ten times. The city's other major ice hockey team is TuTo, which play at the country's second level. A new ice hockey arena was constructed for Tuto in the Kupittaa park in 2006.
Football is the most popular sport in Turku. The city has two teams in the Veikkausliiga: FC Inter and TPS. Both teams play their home matches at the modern Veritas Stadion in the district of Kupittaa.
BALTIC ... ; The Finnish city of Turku is the European Capital of Culture for 2011. And now's the perfect time to visit this artistic and rather enlightened wonderland, says Jo Caird
Jan 08, 2011; BALTIC BEACON Turku's 13th-century cathedral is an impressive sight, standing dark and tall against the gleam of the...