Monday, August 4, 2014

Early morning stroll in Turku, my howntown




River Aura runs through my hometown Turku, an old trading town since early 13th century and until 1827, the capital of Finland. The handsome Turku Cathedral, seen in the background, was consecrated in year 1300. The huge ducks in the river are a permanent art installation.

We are just back from a couple of weeks in Sweden and Finland, happy to be back home in Singapore but already missing our loved ones. Some years, I'm not sure if I want to go to Scandinavia as I know how hard it will be to leave, even if I really love our life in Singapore - a somewhat schizophrenic feeling that seems to grow each year that goes (we are now into our 7th year away from Saltsjöbaden...).

While in Turku (or Åbo, as it is called in Swedish), my Finnish hometown that I left for almost 23 years ago, I realized all too late that I've never really photographed it like I should. Of course, this epiphany came on my last morning there so not much was to be done, but I nevertheless lugged my camera along on our morning walk along Aura river that runs through the city. We were a bit too late, the sun was already too high up at 8 am making the photos look a bit harsh, but I wanted to include this ramble amongst my posts anyway.

As it was an early morning in late July, most people were on holidays, and the sleepy little city was just waking up to yet another unusually hot summer day. After wandering along the river, we had a freshly brewed morning coffee at one of the many cafes under the old linden trees. Absolutely lovely, both the walk and the coffee.

The archbishop's residence behind the Cathedral - with the Aura river running just behind, not a bad place to live... Edited: I've obviously been away long enough to forget some details... This building is not the archbishop's residence (which is situated in the next block), but a building belonging to Åbo Akademi, the only exclusively Swedish language university in Finland.


Probably my favorite church - the Turku Cathedral. During my school years, I sang in a choir. We spent countless hours here practicing, giving concerts and recording songs for competitions and records, often during the night time to avoid traffic noise. It was quite scary to climb up to the dusty balconies and lecterns of the old church, not much was needed to get my teenage brain to perceive ghosts behind the corners...

The Brinkkala Building, scene for an important tradition in Turku and in the whole Finland: the Declaration of Christmas Peace, which started in the 1320s (and in this actual place since 1888). The tradition is said to been interrupted only during the Russian invasion and occupation of Finland in 1712–1721, in 1917 when the militia was on strike, and in 1939 because of a fear of air raids. The Declaration of Christmas Peace launches the Christmas celebrations and in a way marks the official start of Christmas in Finland. 
 
At noon on Christmas Eve, the declaration is read out loud (and broadcasted on radio, TV and today even on YouTube) to remind people that Christmas peace has begun, to advise people to spend the festive period in harmony, to threaten offenders with harsh punishments, and to wish all a merry Christmas. Standing here in the cold Christmas weather, listening to the ancient message with family and friends, and afterwards, having a hot glögg (kind of gluhwein) is one (in my humble opinion) of the best ways to start the Christmas celebrations.

Pinella, an old restaurant across the park from the Brinkkala Building - sleeping through the early summer morning.

Behind the city library, towards Vähätori with many restaurants and cafes...

The Turku city library was built in 1903 with the Stockholm House of Nobles (Riddarhuset) as a model (what a crazy idea, really).
 
Another café, in another old house... Artek, one of my favorite shops in Finland, used to be here earlier.
 
 A short backstreet leading to yet another café - not open at 8 am, a pity...

 Entrance to Café Quensel, behind the Quensel house built in year 1700. It had a pharmacy by the riverside, which is now a charming museum (the red color looks much more vivid here than in real life).

Inside the courtyard of Quensel house; courtyards like this are typical for the old wooden houses in Turku.

The old Turku Conservatorium, where I spent hours at piano lessons and exams, music theory and history lessons and other fantastic things that I didn't much appreciate at that time...
 
 Under one of the many bridges in Turku - when I grew up, the riversides were filled with small boats ready to take off to the archipelago; now, sadly only very few keep their boats there because of all vandalism (instead, there are many boat and yacht clubs a bit further from the city).

 Walking further towards the river mouth and the sea...

Föri, the famous ferry of Turku (well, famous at least in Turku...). Authorities have tried to close it several times, but never succeeded as it has something of a cult following in the town.

 Mid-July rush-hour traffic in Turku.

 A further view towards the mouth of river Aura - at least the guest harbor is busy and full of boat people on holidays.

One last glimpse from the river mouth towards the Turku Cathedral, before turning back for one of the cafés under the linden trees close to the library. 
 
 For more posts from Turku and areas nearby, do click "Finland" in the Label-section.
 

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Arkkipiispan taloksi esittämäsi rakennus on tosiasiassa Donner-instituutin rakennus. Piispan koti on kyllä samalla puolen katua. :)

Anonymous said...

The building you're claiming to be the Archbishop's Palace isn't, the house pictured is Humanisticum, the former Dahlström's Palace, now owned by Åbo Akademi University. The Archbishop's Palace is a bit further down the same street. I should know as I've studied in Humanisticum during the 90's.

Liisa said...

Hi!
Nice photos. One mistake though: the house in Piispankatu is not the residence of the archbishop but the building of Åbo Akademi, Humanisticum.
Regards Liisa

The Intercontinental Gardener said...

Hei, no sattuipa erehdys - ilmeisesti olen ollut hieman liian kauan poissa, mielestäni tuo oli se arkkipiispan asunto, mutta korjaanpa sen oikein. Täytyy ensi kerralla tarkistaa, eikä vain luottaa muistiin...

Jason Finch said...

Thanks very much from a fellow Turku resident about to come back to the city in two days' time after 14 months back in my native England! One question: what is the address of the old Turun Konservatorio building? I ask because my daughter is studying piano in the new one, the old rope works down the river near the castle. Best wishes, Jason Finch of Åbo Akademi

Jason Finch said...

About the previous comment: I realise that of course I know where that is, it is Lasarettsgatan / Sairashuonenkatu. The kindergarten that both my daughters attended throughout their kindergarten years is the building with the tower! Best wishes, Jason

The Intercontinental Gardener said...

Thanks, Jason, for your comments! You are quite right, when I was young, Turun Konservatorio was on Linnankatu. It still is a handsome but somewhat dark building, and I don't know what it is used for today.