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Turku (Finland)



So, now my two-day journey to the Finnish city of Turku has come to an end. Turku (Finish) or Abo (Swedish, pronounced as ['o:bu] in modern Swedish) is a city and port in the south west of Finland, administrative center of Varsinais-Suomen province. The city is located at the influx of the Aura River into the Archipelago Sea.

Turku’s population as of September 30 of 2010 was 177,342; it is the fifth largest city in Finland. In 2007, the Turku sub-region was the third largest urban area in the country (303,492 people) after the Greater Helsinki and Tampere sub-region. The city is officially bilingual: Finnish is used as the first language by 87.7 percent; Swedish is a mother-tongue for 5.3 percent of its population (2009). Turku is commonly called the Gateway to the West. There is a big port in the city and a ferry-boat to the Åland islands and to Stockholm. Turku Airport is the fifth busiest and second in terms of cargo tones in Finland.

Turku is well known as a cultural center. Along with Tallinn the city was designated the European Capital of Culture in 2011.

Traditionally, Turku is perceived as the Christmas City: every year many cultural events and activities are held in the city during the Holy Season.

The Swedish name Åbo consists of two words: å (meaning river) and bo (meaning dwelling) and it translates as those who dwell by the river.

The Finnish name Turku etymologically originates from an Old Russian word tŭrgŭ (meaning market place). Of the same origin is the Swedish word torg, which gave life to the Finnish tori. All these words stand for a place of trading, a market place.

The starting point of Turku’s history is often connected to the name of Pope Gregory IX, who mentioned it in his letter dated as January 23 of 1229. The latter contains his consent to move the residency of Finnish bishop to a more appropriate place. Apparently, it meant to be moved from Nousiainen to Koroinen. The Aura River valley was rather wealthy and quite densely populated as early as in the Iron Age; so, no wonder that the center of the highest authority was moved here. The cathedral’s construction was started circa 1250 on the site of its present location. The present city was formed at the end of the XIII century little below Koroinen downstream. Apparently, the foundation of the city was related to the Swedish king and to the bishop of Dominican Order. The exact date of its foundation is not known; there is no record to that effect, but according to Russian sources, back in 1191, Novgorod citizens together with the Karelians made a naval sortie to Finland against the Swedish, during which they captured Abo. The Cathedral, which was built on the curve of the river, was consecrated in 1300. The bishop’s residency was moved in 1286, after the death of bishop Kalytus. The first documented mention of the city dates to 1270, when the bishop makes mention of the name Aboensis. Apparently, the city had existed already. In 1280, the construction of Abo’s Castle began. In 1318, Novgorod people burned the city, but when the peace treaty was agreed the city was rebuilt again. It received the legal city rights in the 1290s; but only after 1309 there is a document, in which Abo was called a city: universitas ciuitatis Aboensis, that is, the city’s community witnessed the election of the bishop in the new cathedral. Since that time, the city’s seal and coat of arms are known.

The city’s bourgeoisie was fighting for their right to live, manufacture goods and do trade in the city. City council that granted these rights and ruled the city was mentioned for the first time in 1324. The city developed spontaneously, starting from the cathedral, where German settlers dwelt, and after a while reached Matajarvi. Then the city grew more orderly between Kroopi and Watch Mountain. The city’s center is a long square from the river to the city council. Only at the end of the Middle Ages, the west bank of the Aura was inhabited. The first bridge is mentioned in 1414. The city occupied an area of over 20 hectares. The bishop’s residence and the Dominican monastery made Turku of the Middle Ages a religious and educational center. Medieval Turku was also a busy commercial and seafaring hub. It was the largest city in Finland and one of the largest ones in the Swedish kingdom.

The construction of the castle in Turku was started no later than 1280 for the appointed prefect of Finland Carl (Finnish – Kaarle Kustaanpoika). Despite the castle’s protection, the city was raided and sacked many times. The biggest raid was made in 1318 by Novgorod people, and in 1509 and 1522 — by the Danes.

In 1323, the peace treaty of Orekhovo was made, which established the borders between the Novgorod land and the Swedish kingdom. The clashes with the Novgorod Republic ceased, and since this time the city began to flourish. During this time, the city became a member of the Hanseatic League.

In 1409, Turku began to strike its own money, which differed in its value from the money used in Sweden.

In 1628, the king of Sweden Gustaf-Adolf established a public school, which since 1640, through the efforts of Count Per Brahe was transformed into a university – the Royal Academy of Abo.

In 1713, during the Great Northern War Peter the Great started military campaigns in Finland, and on August 28, the Russian army under the command of Peter the Great and General Admiral Count Apraksin captured Turku – the capital of Finland. This period is marked in history as the Greater Wrath for the civil population. Troops remained in the city up until the war ended in 1721.

During the Russian-Swedish war of 1741—1743, Russian troops under Count Bruce on September 8 of 1742 captured Turku. After the peace treaty of Abo was signed to end the war, the Russian army occupied the city.

In February of 1808, Russia and Sweden started the war again. As early as on March 10 (March 22, new style) of 1808, the army of General Dmitry Shepelev took over Turku. According to the Treaty of Frederikshamn signed in 1809, Finland was ceded to Russia.

Turku maintained the significance of the country’s capital until 1817, when the Senate of Finland was transferred to Helsinki (Helsingfors). After this, Turku (in Russian the Swedish name Abo was still used) became the governor’s city of the Abo-Bjorneborg Province. It was the terminal point of the Toijala-Turku line of the Finland railroad; it also remained the seat of the governor, Lutheran archbishop, foreign consuls and Court Chamber (Hofratt, since 1623).

In 1827, there was a great fire in Turku that almost completely destroyed the city. After the fire, it was rebuilt according to a new plan, with straight, broad streets; low profile houses almost exclusively made out of stone. The suburbs spread to Lill-Heikkil, Kuppis (healing spring of St. Heinrich, in the waters of which, according to tradition, the first Finns who converted to Christianity were baptized), Karin and Stor-Heikkil. Also, after the fire the university was transferred to Helsinki.

In 1851, the steam frigate Rurik was launched in Turku, built for the naval equipage of the Grand Duchy of Finland.

According to the numbers of 1880, the city’s population consisted of Finns — 53.6 percent and Swedes — 41.9 percent.

In the civil war, which soon followed after the gaining of independence by Finland, like all other major cities, Turku was in the hands of the “reds.” The war, though, was very short-termed and by the spring of 1918, the reds retreated from the city.

In 1918, the Swedish language university Abo Academi and the Finnish language University of Turku were restored.

In 1932, at the shipbuilding yard Crichton-Vulcan in Turku the armoured coastal-defense ship Väinämöinen was launched.

In the years of the Winter War and Soviet-Finnish War of 1941-1944, the city suffered from USSR air raids. The Castle of Turku also suffered, and its surroundings and the district of Martti were almost completely leveled to the ground.

During the Winter War, the Soviet Union dropped close to 4,000 bombs on Turku, which caused damage to over 600 buildings. Fifty two people died because of the bombings and one hundred and fifty one were wounded. Turku was the second city after Vyborg, which was bombed the most.

After the war, the president and Chief Commander of Finland, Gustaf Mannerheim had the intention to transfer the capital from Helsinki to Turku, since after the signing of the armistice in Moscow in 1944 Finland had to lease to USSR instead of the Hanko Cape the Porkkala peninsula with its vicinities, which was only 17 kilometers away from Helsinki.

Materials taken from the web-resource: www.

Один комментарий

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