I mentioned the lovely French bakery I stopped at while in Turku, Finland in a previous post. I wanted to share some quick photos with you of the treats I enjoyed, but also share with you some of the sights of Turku.
Along with the fruits and nuts that we picked up (and that delicious nougat), we also picked up to little pasteries at the French Bakery (finally, a place where our Canadian French came in handy!)
The first treat is just a simple apple strudel, but slightly less flaky than the German ones I’m used to back home. Still delicious (and sticky!) though!
Also we split this heart-shaped treat, stuffed with chocolaty goodness. Such a healthy dinner. 😉
We visited the open-air continental market, after visiting Turku’s Cathedral (dedicated in 1300) and on our way to the Turku Tourist Information Centre. While at the centre, we purchased a “Turku Card” – a one-day (you can get them in more than one-day incriments as well) for tourists which allows free entrance into a number of tourist sites, as well as a bus tour of Turku’s central area. We used the free entrance to visit Turku Castle early in the day.
Turku Castle (or Turun Linnna in Finnish or Åbo Slott in Swedish) is one of the oldest buildings in Finland that is still in use (along with the Turku Cathedral). The castle is also the largest surviving medieval building in Finland. Construction started around 1280, by the Swedish who intended to use it as a military fortress. The location at the very edge of the city along the Aura riverbank would have made it a good location to defend the area. After the Vyborg castle (which is in land now owned by Russia) and Olavinlinna castle in Savonlinna which I also visited, Turku Castle has the most warlike history of all Finnish castles.
The view above is from the “back” of the castle – the opposite side from where we entered.
The castle consists of a Medieval Keep (the square fort with two gateway towers) and the Renaissance Bailey. The Keep’s walls are about 5 meters thick at the base, and in the Middle Ages the castle was surrounded by a moat which connected to the Aura River, effectively making the castle sit on it’s own island. The Bailey is not as heavily fortified, but includes many towers.
The photo above is of the entrance to the castle. We walked through a very long hallway to get into the inner courtyard, where the towers loomed above.
Many of the rooms have been restored to their renaissance condition, but are empty except for a few pieces of furniture or artwork. There is also a large museum upstairs, and when we were there they were just nearly finished a new museum exhibit showing medieval life. It’s too bad we weren’t able to see the new exhibit – perhaps it’s something to look forward to on my next trip to Finland!
There are rooms like the Ladies Drawing Room, King’s Hall, a prison, a chapel, and guest quarters. Many dining halls are rented out for special events as well. The chapel is used for a local congregation, and there are also restaurants on site.
The castle is owned and maintained by the Finnish government and is entrusted to the use of the city of Turku – it is one of the most popular museums in Finland.
The photo above is from the large courtyard after entering the castle – where the towers loom above. There are a lot of stairs to climb to explore the castle!
There were several models within the castle – this first showing how the castle currently looks, but there were several showing the general progress of the castle from it’s original construction around 1280, to modern day. The most recent additions were made during the 16th century, and no other part of the castle has been added or extended since then, only repaired.
After visiting the Castle, we hopped on city transit (there’s a stop right outside the castle gates) and got off at the Turku Tourist Information Centre, right on time to catch our tour bus. (Ok, being Canadian we were actually about 20 minutes early…) The tour took us around central Turku, back to the Cathedral, past the Turku University, past the Science park, and a number of other places. It even included a short ferry ride across the Aura river! Finally the last stop.. was back at Turku Castle! Unfortunately because it was the day before Midsummer Eve, the castle was closing any minute, so we admired the view, and headed back to the information centre, where we walked a few blocks to another museum where we could take advantage of our Turku Card!
Stay tuned.. I have more to share with you from Turku and Finland – maybe you’ll want to go and visit too … and try some of the delicious food!