Porvoo Old Town

Porvoo, Finland

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 pictoresque tourist attraction. Many of the boutiques and services are located on Jokikatu and Välikatu Streets and around the church, but it's also worth looking a bit further. In the sidestreets and lanes it's easy to take a step back in time and forget the modern world. The small idyllic parks and sleepy cobbled streets among the houses entice the visitors to linger and reflect on the past.

The Old Town came close to being demolished in the 19th century by a new urban plan for the city. The plan was cancelled due to a popular resistance headed by Count Louis Sparre.

The red-coloured wooden storage buildings on the riverside are a proposed UNESCO world heritage site. Already by the early 19th century the authorities understood the value of the old town, and so with the need for growth a plan was made for a 'new town' built adjacent to the old town, following a grid plan but with houses also built in wood.



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Jokikatu, Porvoo, Finland
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Founded: 18th century
Category: Historic city squares, old towns and villages in Finland
Historical period: The Age of Enlightenment (Finland)


4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

C Ford (49 days ago)
Pretty little town, with a lovely cathedral and beautiful views of the red-painted wooden huts in the town when seen from a walk around the nearby Castle Hill. It's a very worthwhile bus journey from Helsinki, taking about 45 minutes. So it makes a great half-day trip.
E Lukina (3 months ago)
Such a lovely old town with cozy narrow streets full of souvenir shops and cafés. Architecture is authentic but kept in a good condition. It can be windy on the river promenade.
shruti goyal (4 months ago)
Such a charming beautiful place right out of Hallmark series,to stroll around for few hours and conveniently located by bus from Helsinki - we took Omni bus and it was a smooth ride to and fro. Definitely a must if you are in Helsinki and have few hours to spare
TH3 TR/\V1R (7 months ago)
Porvoo old town is worth a visit for exploring traditional Finnish architecture. It's a small area with cafés, shops, restaurants, a church and close to the river. All the way in the back you'll find a nice park area to wall around in. All walkable distance, also from the main bus station and shopping mall.
Kajal (8 months ago)
Lovely little place to visit for a day trip from Helsinki! It’s got all the medieval feels - cobblestone streets, tiny boutique shops, colourful houses and artisanal outlets. We found a really good chocolate shop that had amazing variety. Beautiful to walk around and get a pint / hot chocolate with a meal.
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Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

The Church of the Holy Cross

The church of the former Franciscan monastery was built probably between 1515 and 1520. It is located in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Old Rauma. The church stands by the small stream of Raumanjoki (Rauma river).

The exact age of the Church of the Holy Cross is unknown, but it was built to serve as the monastery church of the Rauma Franciscan Friary. The monastery had been established in the early 15th century and a wooden church was built on this location around the year 1420.

The Church of the Holy Cross served the monastery until 1538, when it was abandoned for a hundred years as the Franciscan friary was disbanded in the Swedish Reformation. The church was re-established as a Lutheran church in 1640, when the nearby Church of the Holy Trinity was destroyed by fire.

The choir of the two-aisle grey granite church features medieval murals and frescoes. The white steeple of the church was built in 1816 and has served as a landmark for seafarers.