Historic city squares, old towns and villages in Finland

Senate Square

Senate Square (Senaatintori) presents Carl Ludvig Engel's architecture as a unique allegory of political, religious, scientific and commercial powers in the centre of Helsinki. It has been the centrum of Helsinki since the city was established in 1640. Russians destroyed Helsinki entirely during the Great Northern War (1713-1721).When the Finland became an autonomous part of Russia in 1812, the capital was moved from Turk ...
Founded: 1816-1852 | Location: Helsinki, Finland

Porvoo Old Town

Porvoo was first mentioned in documents in the early 14th century, and Porvoo was given city rights around 1380, even though according to some sources the city was founded in 1346. Porvoo is famed for its old town (Gamla Stan in Swedish), a dense medieval street pattern with predominantly wooden houses. The town was mainly destroyed by fire in 1760 and current buildings were built after that. Today Porvoo old town is a p ...
Founded: 18th century | Location: Porvoo, Finland

Old Rauma

Old Rauma is the largest unified historical wooden town in the Nordic countries. Fire has destroyed it several times since 1500s, last major one occured in 1682. There are 600 buildings in old town, mostly privately owned. Oldest still existing houses are from the 18th century.Locations of special interest include the Kirsti house, which is a seaman's house from the 18th and 19th centuries, and the Marela house, which is ...
Founded: 18th century | Location: Rauma, Finland

Loviisa Old Town

The city of Loviisa was founded in 1745, as a border fortress against Russia. It is named after Lovisa Ulrika, the Swedish Queen consort of Adolf Frederick of Sweden. The old town survived from the great fire in 1855 and is today one of the most vell-preserved wooden towns in Finland.Narrow sandstone and cobblestone streets and small wooden cottages provide fashionable sights for visitors.The sea stretches all the way to ...
Founded: 18th-19th centuries | Location: Loviisa, Finland

Tammisaari Old Town

The old town of Tammisaari is located to the small peninsula called "Barckens Udde". There has been originally a medieval fishing village. Most of wooden buildings are from the 18th and 19th centuries representing different architecture styles and old tradition of handicraft professions. The old town is fascinating and pictoresque area for walking.
Founded: 18th-19th centuries | Location: Raasepori, Finland

Pispala City District

Pispala is a city district located on the northern slope of Pispalanharju, the highest esker in Finland. Together with Pyynikki, Pispala is widely considered the most beautiful district of Tampere and tourists are often guided there for the view and the unique urban design features of the area.Pispala is named after the House of Pispa, which had the obligation to house the bishops during their travel. Pispala was all farm ...
Founded: 1900s | Location: Tampere, Finland

Kristiinankaupunki Old Town

Kristiinankaupunki (Kristinestad in Swedish) was founded by Count Peter Brahe on the island of Koppö in 1649. Kristiinankaupunki has centuries old traditions as a marketing and trading town and a distinguished shipping history with its ship- and boatbuilding traditions. The beautiful town hall was built in 1856. Today the centre of the little town of 7660 inhabitants has changed its face somewhat, but in the narrow a ...
Founded: 1649 | Location: Kristiinankaupunki, Finland

Old Raahe

The city of Raahe was established in 1649 by Pietari (Per) Brahe, the General-Governor of Finland. Due the harbour Raahe began to grow and prosper in the 18th century. In 1791 the city was finally got the right to freedom of sailing abroad. The main export goods were tar, pitch and lumber.in 1810 the great fire destroyed a third of all buildings in the town. In the post-fire reconstruction Raahe got the present marketplac ...
Founded: 19th century | Location: Raahe, Finland

Nötö Village & Chapel

Because of its central location, the island has been important to the communications and commerce in the region. The settlement of Nötö has been dated to the early 11th century, and the assumption is that vikings stopped by during their travels and possibly even settled on the island.A culturally and historically valuable village consisting of old farms ('hemman') still exists on the island. In the centr ...
Founded: 1757 (the chapel) | Location: Länsi-Turunmaa, Finland

Neristan (Kokkola Old Town)

Neristan (downtown) is the name of the old town of Kokkola. Neristan is one of the most extensive wooden towns in Finland. The town plan of 12 blocks is derived from the 1660's. Most of the buildings were built between 1810 and 1880, although the oldest buildings are up to the 1600s.Until the beginning of 1900s city of Kokkola was divided to Oppistan (upper town) and Neristan (downtown). Oppistan, the current city center, ...
Founded: 1810-1880 | Location: Kokkola, Finland

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Limburg Cathedral

The Cathedral of Limburg is one of the best preserved late Romanesque style buildings. It is unknown When the first church was built above the Lahn river. Archaeological discoveries have revealed traces of a 9th-century church building in the area of the current chapel. It was probably built in Merovingian times as a castle and the chapel added in the early 9th century.

In 910 AD, Count Konrad Kurzbold (cousin of the future King Konrad I) founded a collegiate chapter of 18 canons, who lived according to the rule of Bishop Chrodegang of Metz, on the hilltop site. The original castle chapel was torn down and a three-aisled basilica was built in its place. The foundations of this basilica have been found beneath the present floor.

The construction of current cathedral is dated to 1180-90. The consecration was performed in 1235 by the archbishop of Trier. It seems certain that the cathedral was built in four stages. The first stage encompassed the west facade, the south side aisle, the choir and the transept up to the matroneum. This section forms the Conradine church. The second stage consisted of the addition of the inner pillars of the south nave. In this stage the bound system was first introduced. In the third phase, the matroneum in the southern nave was built. The fourth stage included the north side of the transept and the choir matroneum. By this stage Gothic influence is very clear.

The interior was destroyed by Swedish soldiers during the Thirty Years War (1618-48) and reconstructed in a late Baroque style in 1749. The Baroque renovation was heavy-handed: the surviving medieval stained glass windows were replaced; all the murals were covered up; the ribs of the vaults and columns of the arcades were painted blue and red; the capstones were gilded; the original high altar was replaced. The colorfully painted exterior was coated in plain white and the central tower was extended by 6.5 meters.

The collegiate chapter of Limburg was dissolved in 1803 during the Napoleonic period, but then raised to the rank of cathedral in 1827 when the bishopric of Limburg was founded. Some renovations in contemporary style followed: the walls were coated white, the windows were redone in blue and orange (the heraldic colors of the Duke of Nassau) and towers were added to the south transept (1865).

Further changes came after Limburg was incorporated into the Kingdom of Prussia in 1866. It was now the Romantic period and the cathedral was accordingly restored to an idealized vision of its original Romanesque appearance. The exterior stonework was stripped of all its plaster and paint, to better conform with the Romantic ideal of a medieval church growing out of the rock. The Baroque interior was stripped away and the wall paintings were uncovered and repainted.

Further renovations came in 1934-35, enlightened by better knowledge of the original art and architecture. Art Nouveau stained glass windows were also added. A major restoration in 1965-90 included replastering and painting the exterior, both to restore it to its original appearance and to protect the stonework, which was rapidly deteriorating while exposed to the elements.

The interior is covered in medieval frescoes dating from 1220 to 1235. They are magnificent and important survivals, but time has not been terribly kind to them - they were whitewashed over in the Baroque period (1749) and uncovered and repainted with a heavy hand in the Romantic period (1870s) before finally being restored more sensitively in the 1980s.