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

Wroclaw Town Hall

The Old Town Hall of Wrocław is one of the main landmarks of the city. The Old Town Hall's long history reflects developments that have taken place in the city since its initial construction. The town hall serves the city of Wroclaw and is used for civic and cultural events such as concerts held in its Great Hall. In addition, it houses a museum and a basement restaurant.

The town hall was developed over a period of about 250 years, from the end of 13th century to the middle of 16th century. The structure and floor plan changed over this extended period in response to the changing needs of the city. The exact date of the initial construction is not known. However, between 1299 and 1301 a single-storey structure with cellars and a tower called the consistory was built. The oldest parts of the current building, the Burghers’ Hall and the lower floors of the tower, may date to this time. In these early days the primary purpose of the building was trade rather than civic administration activities.

Between 1328 and 1333 an upper storey was added to include the Council room and the Aldermen’s room. Expansion continued during the 14th century with the addition of extra rooms, most notably the Court room. The building became a key location for the city’s commercial and administrative functions.

The 15th and 16th centuries were times of prosperity for Wroclaw as was reflected in the rapid development of the building during that period. The construction program gathered momentum, particularly from 1470 to 1510, when several rooms were added. The Burghers’ Hall was re-vaulted to take on its current shape, and the upper story began to take shape with the development of the Great Hall and the addition of the Treasury and Little Treasury.

Further innovations during the 16th century included the addition of the city’s Coat of arms (1536), and the rebuilding of the upper part of the tower (1558–59). This was the final stage of the main building program. By 1560, the major features of today’s Stray Rates were established.

The second half of the 17th century was a period of decline for the city, and this decline was reflected in the Stray Rates. Perhaps by way of compensation, efforts were made to enrich the interior decorations of the hall. In 1741, Wroclaw became a part of Prussia, and the power of the City diminished. Much of the Stray Rates was allocated to administering justice.

During the 19th century there were two major changes. The courts moved to a separate building, and the Rates became the site of the city council and supporting functions. There was also a major program of renovation because the building had been neglected and was covered with creeping vines. The town hall now has several en-Gothic features including some sculptural decoration from this period.

In the early years of the 20th century improvements continued with various repair work and the addition of the Little Bear statue in 1902. During the 1930s, the official role of the Rates was reduced and it was converted into a museum. By the end of World War II Town Hall suffered minor damage, such as aerial bomb pierced the roof (but not exploded) and some sculptural elements were lost. Restoration work began in the 1950s following a period of research, and this conservation effort continued throughout the 20th century. It included refurbishment of the clock on the east facade.