Planning one-day trips to the cities of Tampere and Turku? Here are some recommendations*. To view all the photographs (with the captions in full) of each city, click on any image and navigate using the left and right keys.
1. Tampere in Southern Finland was a historical centre of Finnish industry and commerce, though many factories and buildings have since been refurbished to house museums. Finland’s third-largest city is powered by dams and power stations. The pictured dam between Finlayson and Tampella is located on the channel of rapids, Tammerkoski.
2. Start the day with a visit to the keskustori (Central Market / City Square), right in the centre of Tampere’s shopping district, dotted by many contemporary malls and restaurants.
3. Alexander Church was the main church of the Christians in Tampere. The church, with a design influenced by different styles, was named after Russian Emperor Alexander II.
4. The Moominvalley Museum at the Tampere Art Museum is worth a quick visit, especially if you are a fan of the books and comic strips of the Moomins by writer-illustrator Tove Jansson. There are original illustrations – which are delightfully intricate and delicate – and thousands of exhibitions on display, but they may be a little monotonous for the uninitiated.
5. Walk along the main street, and have lunch at the Tampere Kauppahalli (Market Hall). Fresh bread and produce are sold around the complex, and cooked meals are readily available. Salmon, smoked salmon, and salads are extremely popular choices, but I had a medium- and giant-sized meatball served with a tangy – and very delicious – pepper sauce.
6. If you are feeling peckish, try the pastries, tarts, and cakes on offer (pictured: a tiramisu).
7. James Finlayson was a Scottish industrialist who manufactured machinery and textiles in Tampere using hydropower from the Tammerkoski channel of rapids. Today Finlayson is a luxury brand name, known globally for the manufacture of high-quality sheets and textiles. In Tampere however Finlayson’s old factories have been turned into entertainment venues, but you can still visit the Steam Engine Museum (historically used to power the factory operations), the Textile Industry Museum, and Werstas (the Finnish Labour Museum).
8. If you are into espionage and clandestine intelligence-information collection techniques, then the Vakoilumuseo (the Spy Museum) is a must-see. The first spy museum of the world might not have an extensive collection of artefacts, but the fascinating write-ups and interactive, hands-on activities make for an educational and engaging experience.
9. (Top, bottom left, and bottom right) the Tampere Hall, Concert, and Congress Centre; the Finlayson Church (at its peak Finlayson had over 3,000 employees, and the company had its own town with a church, police post, and fire station); as well as the Tampere Cathedral.
10. End the day with sautéed reindeer and mashed potato (along with a glass of beer).
1. Alight one train stop earlier, even though the arrival timing is off, other commuters are not getting off, and the station name is completely different. And remember to be too proud to board the carriage again, moments after you have come to terms with your folly.
2. It was a slippery 40-minute trek and navigation from that train station to Turku, but I was rewarded with some beautiful suburban scenes along the way. Located at the mouth of the Aura River Turku was the former administrative capital of Finland when the country was part of the Russian Empire, but even before that Turku had already established itself as an important regional city by maintaining connections with Finland’s European counterparts.
3. Aboa Vetus and Ars Nova (Museum of History and Contemporary Art) is a popular destination to learn more about Turku. Aboa Vetus is particularly impressive. The exhibition is designed around actual archaeological excavations, which means that you could walk through medieval structures of the city while looking and reading about the artefacts.
4. The Turku Cathedral is Finland’s national sanctuary or shrine, and the Cathedral Museum takes you through the history of the religion and the building in the country.
5. A quick lunch or tea of carrot cakes and blueberry and lemon curd tarts at CaféArt should warm you up for hours of sight-seeing in the rainy – and somewhat foul – weather.
6. On the other side of the central railway station is the Paavo Nurmi Stadium, named after the Turku-born “Flying Finn” for dominating cross country events at the Olympic Games. The stadium might be closed in the winter, but the locals still do their exercises around the park, and the frozen lake nearby is a perfect location for ice-skating.
7. The Vartiovuori Hill, a landscape park.
8. Stop briefly to check out the Fibonacci Chimney on the Turun Energia Power Plant. I took a photograph of the attraction completely by chance (the Fibonacci sequence was striking), and it was designed as a project by Italian artist Mario Merz to decorate the building.
9. It was a long walk to the Forum Marinum (Maritime Museum), where there are exhibitions in two main buildings and on board the museum ship, the Sigyn. Given Turku’s proximity the city was – and still is – an important commercial and passenger seaport in Finland, and the museum documents the companies, vessels, and individuals involved in these endeavours.
10. The Turku Castle was constructed in the Middle Ages as a defensive fortress. There have been rounds of refurbishments after wars and fires, though the structure of the buildings has remained unchanged. Walking through the main castle and the bailey (an extension with additional fortifications) was therefore pretty surreal, and very spooky. The sun had already set when I arrived, and the rooms in the stone castle were dimly lit to give the “medieval feel”. I sauntered speedily through empty hallways, curious collections of dolls, and unnerving prison cells, but all the collections made for a good conclusion to the Turku trip.
* Not an advertisement, and also not sponsored (unfortunately).
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