Historic city squares, old towns and villages in 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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bergenhus Fortress

Bergenhus fortress is one of the oldest and best preserved castles in Norway. It contains buildings dating as far back as the 1240s, as well as later constructions built as recently as World War II. The extent of the enclosed area of today dates from the early 19th century. In medieval times, the area of the present-day Bergenhus Fortress was known as Holmen (The islet), and contained the royal residence in Bergen, as well as a cathedral and several churches, the bishop's residence, and a Dominican monastery. Excavations have revealed foundations of buildings believed to date back to before 1100, which might have been erected by King Olav Kyrre. In the 13th century, until 1299, Bergen was the capital of Norway and Holmen was thus the main seat of Norway's rulers. It was first enclosed by stone walls in the 1240s.

Of the medieval buildings, a medieval hall and a defensive tower remain. The royal hall, today known as Haakon's Hall, built around 1260, is the largest medieval secular building in Norway. The defensive tower, known in the Middle Ages as the keep by the sea, was built around 1270 by King Magnus VI Lagabøte, and contained a royal apartment on the top floor. In the 1560s it was incorporated by the commander of the castle, Erik Rosenkrantz, into a larger structure, which is today known as the Rosenkrantz Tower.

In the Middle Ages, several churches, including the Christ Church, Bergen's cathedral, were situated on the premises. These however were torn down in the period 1526 to 1531, as the area of Holmen was converted into a purely military fortification under Danish rule. From around this time, the name Bergenhus came into use. Building work on the Christ Church probably started around 1100. It contained the shrine of saint Sunniva, the patron saint of Bergen and western Norway. In the 12th and 13th centuries it was the site of several royal coronations and weddings. It was also the burial site of at least six kings, as well as other members of the royal family. The site of its altar is today marked by a memorial stone.

In the 19th century, the fortress lost its function as a defensive fortification, but it was retained by the military as an administrative base. After restoration in the 1890s, and again after destruction sustained during World War II, Bergenhus is today again used as a feast hall for public events. During World War II, the German navy used several of its buildings for their headquarters, and they also constructed a large concrete bunker within the fortress walls. The buildings, including the Haakon's Hall, were severely damaged when a Dutch ship in the service of the German navy, carrying approximately 120 tons of dynamite, exploded on 20 April 1944 in the harbour just outside the fortress walls, but the buildings were later restored.

Bergenhus is currently under the command of the Royal Norwegian Navy, which has about 150 military personnel stationed there. The fortifications Sverresborg fortress and Fredriksberg fortress also lie in the centre of Bergen. Haakon's Hall and the Rosenkrantz Tower are open for visits by the public. Koengen, the central part of Bergenhus Fortress is also known as a concert venue.