Top Historic Sights in Oulu, Finland

Explore the historic highlights of Oulu

Oulu City Hall

The Oulu City Hall was completed in 1886 as a restaurant (“Seurahuone”). The neo-Renaissance building was designed by J. E. Stenberg. The city council moved to the house in 1921.
Founded: 1886 | Location: Oulu, Finland

Oulu Castle

Oulu castle ("Uleåborg") was built in 1590 for a stronghold to Swedish soldiers on their way to fight against Russian Karelia. The castle was mostly made of wood and earth walls. There probably was an earlier medieval castle on the same location. The Russian Sophia Chronicle has recorded that men from Novgorod tried to conquer a new castle in the Oulu River delta in 1377 but were unsuccessful. King of Sweden, Charle ...
Founded: 1590 | Location: Oulu, Finland

Oulu Cathedral

The Oulu Cathedral is an Evangelical Lutheran cathedral and the seat of the Diocese of Oulu. The church was built in 1777 as a tribute to the King of Sweden Gustav III of Sweden and named after his wife as Sofia Magdalena's church.The wooden structures burned in the large fire of the city of Oulu in 1822. The church was built again on top of the old stonewalls with famous architect Carl Ludvig Engel as the designer. T ...
Founded: 1777 (restored 1832) | Location: Oulu, Finland

Museum of Northern Ostrobothnia

The museum of Northern Ostrobothnia was established in 1896. The basic exhibition will tell you the history of the city of Oulu and its surroundings. Between the years 1911-1929 the museum operated in an old wooden villa Villa Ainola, which was destroyed in a fire on July 9th, 1929. Some of the collections of the museum were also destroyed. Soon after the fire the current museum building was started to be built on the sit ...
Founded: 1896 | Location: Oulu, Finland

Turkansaari

The Turkansaari Open-Air Museum consists over 40 museum buildings. The buildings include for example a church built in 1694 and the old country manor house of Ylikärppä, completed in 1894. In Turkansaari, you can see the old trades that the region’s economy used to revolve around, including tar-making, salmon fishing, lumbering and log floating.Turkansaari church was built as the chapel in 1694. At that ti ...
Founded: 1922 | Location: Oulu, Finland

Ylikiiminki Church

Ylikiiminki Church was probably completed in 1786. The cruciform church was designed by Jacob Rijf, the famous church builder from Pietarsaari. The altarpiece was painted by Gustav Holmqvist in 1839.
Founded: 1786 | Location: Oulu, Finland

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Saint Sophia Cathedral

The St Sophia's Cathedral was built between 1045-1050 inside the Novgorod Kremlin (fortress). It is one of the earliest stone structures of northern Russia. Its height is 38 m. Originally it was taller, for during the past nine centuries the lower part of the building became concealed by the two-metre thick cultural layer. The cathedral was built by Prince Vladimir, the son of Yaroslav the Wise, and until the 1130s this principal church of the city also served as the sepulchre of Novgorodian princes. For the Novgorodians, St Sophia became synonymous with their town, the symbol of civic power and independence.

The five-domed church looks simpler but no less impressive than its prototype, the thirteen-domed St Sophia of Kiev. The cathedral exterior is striking in its majesty and epic splendour evoking the memories of Novgorod's glorious past and invincible might. In the 11th century it looked more imposing than now. Its facade represented a gigantic mosaic of huge, coarsely trimmed irregular slabs of flagstone and shell rock. In some places (particularly on the apses), the wall was covered with mortar, smoothly polished, drawn up to imitate courses of brick or of whitestone slabs, and slightly coloured. As a result, the facade was not white, as it is today, but multicoloured. The play of stone, decorative painting and the building materials of various texture enhanced the impression of austere simplicity and introduced a picturesque effect.

The two-storied galleries extend along the building's southern, western and northern sides, with a stair-tower constructed at the north-eastern corner. The cathedral has three entrances - the southern, western and northern, of which the western was the main one intended for ceremonial processions. A gate standing at the entrance is known as the Sigtuna Gate (mid-12th century); according to legend, it was brought from the Swedish town of Sigtuna in 1187. The second name of the gate derives from the town of Magdeburg, where it was made. The two leaves are decorated with biblical and evangelical scenes in cast bronze relief. In the lower left corner there are portraits of the craftsmen who created this superb specimen of medieval Western European bronze-work. An inscription in Latin gives their names, Riquin and Weissmut. The small central figure - judging from an inscription in Slavonic - is a representation of the Russian master craftsman Avraam, who assembled the gate.

There is yet another bronze gate in the cathedral, called the Korsun Gate. Made in the 11th century in Chersonesos, Byzantium, it leads from the southern gallery into the Nativity Side-Chapel. Legend has it that the gate was handed over to Novgorod as a gift of Prince Yaroslav the Wise (c. 978 - 1054).

The interior of the cathedral is as majestic as its exterior. It is divided by huge piers into five aisles, three of which end in altar apses. In the south-western corner, inside the tower, there is a wide spiral in relatively small, modest buildings of the 12th - 16th centuries.