In my previous post I mentioned that after visiting Turku Castle and then going on a city tour, my companion and I headed to another Turku museum to take advantage of the admission pre-paid with our Turku card. (A tourist card which offers discounts and free admission, available from the Turku Tourist information office.)
The museum we visited was the Aboa Vetus & Ars Nova – a two-for-the-price-of-one museum that houses both historical ruins and contemporary art.
Aboa Vetus is an unearthed display of ruins – the genuine construction on the site they were originally built before being abandoned and covered over. The ruins tell the history of settlements in Turku. After wandering through the ruins, and reading the stories the museum has to tell, you can also visit the exhibition halls of Ars Nova, housed in the Rettig Palace which was completed in 1928. Ars Nova features contemporary art including paintings, photographs, and when we were there, many multi-media art pieces.
Of course.. Happy Sushi Belly isn’t all about my Finnish trip – so here’s the happy belly connection – in the central area between the two old-and-new areas of Aboa Vetus & Ars Nova is a small café: the Aula Cafe – where we tried some absolutely delicious sour-berry cheesecake! (They also offer a buffet lunch, but we were a bit too late after our bus tour.)
Sour berries seem to be very popular in Finland, we had them several times at our breakfast buffets! (Enjoyed over cereal or blended into yoghurt.) This cheesecake was a wonderful blend of tart and sweet, with loads of texture from the berries, and creaminess from the cheesecake. Yum! Interestingly enough, it had a little sponge cake layer between the creamy cheesecake and the fruit, which helped soak up some of the delicious, tangy berry juice. Perfect for a hot day, wandering along the Aura river…
One really nice thing if you’re visiting Turku and want to stop for a bite to eat – the ruins at the top of this post are actually from where the café is! You don’t even have to pay admission to the museum (although if you have the time, you definitely should!) to see a little sample of the unearthed ruins that were discovered right on this very site.
You might also be tempted to get a cup of coffee at the café to go along with your sweet treat… but I warn you, Finnish coffee is different than American/Canadian coffee… they like it… STRONG. The few times I tried a cup, I needed to add lots of milk… so I usually stuck with (what else?) tea instead.
The building that the Aboa Vetus & Ars Nova museum(s) is housed in is unique enough by itself (approach from the back to get a sense of the beauty of the Rettig Palace) but there’s also a really cool sculpture to greet you at the entrance. This is “Elephant Square” and it’s actually carved into the rock (rather than having the rock cut away to bring out the elephant). It’s a really neat piece of art, worth checking out if you’re walking along the Aura River.