Turku (Åbo in Swedish) is a city in Finland and the center of the
province of Southwest Finland, located at the mouth of the Aura
River on the coast of the Archipelago Sea. The city has a population
of 194,016 in August 2020 and 330,482 in the Turku region. This
makes Turku the sixth largest municipality in Finland and the third
largest urban area.
Turku is estimated to have been born in the 13th century and is thus the oldest city in Finland. The year 1229 is often mentioned as the year the city was founded. Turku was for a long time the most important settlement center in Finland, the country's unofficial capital in 1809–1812 and until the 1840s the largest city in Finland. Turku is still the local administrative, economic and cultural center of its region. The city is the head office of the Southwest Finland Regional State Administrative Agency and the regional center of Southwest Finland. Several state agencies were moved from Turku in the early 1810s in connection with the formation of the official capital to Helsinki, but the Archbishopric of Finland remained in Turku where it is still located. The university was moved to Helsinki after the Turku fire in 1827.
Turku is especially known as a city of culture. Due to its long history, it has been the scene of several historical events, which has had a wide impact on the entire history of Finland. Due to its history and political and geographical position, Turku has had a significant impact in almost all areas of culture. In 2011, Turku was the European Capital of Culture together with Tallinn, the capital of Estonia.
Turku was often considered Finland's gateway to the west. The city is a major commercial port city, and there is frequent passenger ferry traffic from the Port of Turku to Mariehamn and Stockholm. In addition, Turku Airport is the fourth busiest airport in Finland and the second largest in terms of cargo volumes. Southwest Finland is one of Finland's most important manufacturing centers and the core area of the maritime industry. Production is growing strongly and the growth outlook extends beyond the mid-2020s. The pharmaceutical industry is another important industrial area in Turku. The strong growth prospects of both the marine and pharmaceutical industries have also created a boom in other industries, especially construction.
The city is officially bilingual. At the end of 2018, 5.4 per cent of its residents spoke Swedish as their mother tongue, or about 10,300 people.
Turku's neighboring municipalities are Aura, Kaarina, Lieto, Masku, Mynämäki, Naantali, Nousiainen, Pargas, Pöytyä, Raisio and Rusko. Of these, with Naantali and Parainen, Turku has only a sea border and with Pöytyä, Mynämäki, Masku and Nousiainen it borders only at one point on the Kuhankuono border rock. In the 20th century, the municipalities of Maaria, Paattinen and Kakskerra and areas from Kaarina and Raisio, among others, were connected to Turku.
The Finnish name for the city is believed
to be inherited from the ancient Russian word tǔrgǔ. The perception
at the moment is that the word in question was brought to
Fennoscandia by Novgorod merchants.
Turku is still used in certain dialects in the sense of market, which was once inherited from the same word, although Turku is now more often understood as the name of a city than as a word for market. This significance is also reflected in the phrases “markets and markets” and “Turku in Finland”, which also refers to the position as a city in the historical province of Finland, ie Southwest Finland. In Estonian, the name of the city is Turu, which is a form of ownership of the word “turg”.
Turku's Swedish name Åbo, originally Aboa, possibly comes from the river å and the rest, ie bo (a).
The history of Turku often begins with a letter dated by Pope Gregory IX on January 23, 1229. The letter gave permission to move the Finnish episcopal seat to a more suitable place. Apparently this meant a transfer from Ascendant to Koros. The Aura River Valley had been a prosperous and relatively densely populated area as early as the Iron Age, so it is not surprising that the diocesan center was moved there.
At the end of the 13th century, the actual city of Turku was formed slightly lower than Koroistenniemi along the Aura River near the Unikankare mound. Archaeologist Markus Hiekkanen has speculated that the city was founded on the joint initiative of the king, the bishop and the Dominican Convention founded in 1249. However, the town was not established on uninhabited land, but there were fields and probably also a peasant village. The exact year the city was founded is unknown, as no related documents have been preserved. The cathedral, built on Unikankare, was consecrated in 1300.
As the seat of the Episcopal See and the Dominican Monastery, Turku was the ecclesiastical and doctrinal center of medieval Finland. Medieval Turku was also a lively center of trade and shipping. It was the largest and at the same time the largest and most important medieval city in the entire Swedish kingdom. Turku Castle, located near the city, was one of the most important bases of secular power in Finland. Despite the protection afforded by the castle, the city became a scene of war several times in the Middle Ages. The city was plundered by the Novgorodians in 1318 and by the Danes in 1509 and 1522.
Turku from the 16th century to the end of Swedish rule
Even after the Middle Ages, Turku maintained its position as the largest city in Finland. While Duke Juhana was holding his court in Turku Castle in 1556–1563, the people of Turku were able to see glimpses of Central European splendor. Turku Castle was besieged a total of six times in the 16th century in connection with the Swedish power struggles, but in the 17th century the city's conditions were much calmer. Turku's position as the center of a large area was emphasized during the 17th century, when numerous school and administrative institutions were established there. For example, the county government was founded in Turku in 1617 and Finland's first court of appeal, the Turku Court of Appeal in 1623. Queen Kristiina ordered the establishment of Finland's first university, the Turku Academy, in 1640. In the 17th century Turku had about 3,000 inhabitants and servants, now also civil servants, students, and university staff. Count Peter Brahe served as Governor-General of Finland in 1637–1640 and 1648–1654 with the task of administering the region. For this task, Turku Castle had the Office of the Governor General.
The favorable growth of the 17th century ceased in the Great Northern War of 1700–1721 and the ensuing Great Hatred, the Russian occupation. During the Great Wrath, Turku was the center of the Russian occupation regime. Between 1742 and 1743, during the War of the Hats, the city was again occupied by petty hatred. The petty anger ended in the peace agreement known as the Turku Peace Treaty. The second half of the 18th century was calmer, and was marked by the growth of industry in Turku. In the 18th century, two of the largest tobacco factories in the country operated in Turku. Shipbuilding began at the Åbo Gamla Skeppswarf shipyard in Turku in 1732, and over time the shipbuilding industry developed into the city's most significant industry. The city's population rose to about 11,000 by the turn of the century. At the end of the 18th century, culture and science flourished in the city. Examples of this were the establishment of the first botanical garden and laboratories and the publication of Tidningar Utgifne Af et Sällskap i Åbo, Finland's oldest newspaper, in 1771.
The time of Russian rule
There was no resistance in Turku when the Russians marched on the
city in October 1809 in connection with the Finnish War. Life in
Turku continued to be peaceful despite the occupation. The Turku
Court of Appeal continued its session when the Russians arrived, and
later in the spring the Bishop of Turku Jacob Tengström and the
teaching staff of the Turku Academy took an oath of allegiance to
In 1809, Turku became the seat of the central government of the Grand Duchy of Finland, the capital of autonomous Finland. Due to its historical position, Turku already had important agencies. The Turku Cathedral and Bishop were the country's leading ecclesiastical authorities. The university was located in Turku, and the city was the center of Finnish trade and shipping. However, the capital was moved to Helsinki in 1812 because, in the opinion of Emperor Alexander I, Turku was pro-Swedish and too close to the former motherland. Later, Carl Erik Mannerheim, considered the first Prime Minister of Finland, commented in his memoirs that the transfer of the capital from Turku to Helsinki was, in his opinion, a mistake influenced by Finnish “lucky lucky people and project landlords”.
With the exception of the Archbishop's seat, the last bodies of the central government and the Turku Academy were moved to the new capital after the great fire of Turku in 1827. After the most devastating city fire in the history of the Nordic countries, Carl Ludvig Engel drew up a new town plan for Turku. After reconstruction, the city was one of the most cohesive architectures in Europe. Turku remained the largest city in Finland until the 1840s. In addition to the new rise of the city, the 19th century was marked by a national revival, fennomania. The basis for the movement was in the so-called Turku romance.
After Finland's independence
In the Finnish Civil War, which began immediately after Finland's independence, Turku, like other large cities, was under the rule of the Reds. However, the war was short, and during the spring of 1918 the Reds in Turku withdrew. During the Winter and Continuation Wars, Turku suffered from the bombing of the Soviet Union. Among other things, Turku Castle was destroyed, and the surrounding area and the Martin district were almost completely bombed to the ground. During the Winter War, the Soviet Union dropped 4,000 bombs on the city, destroying or damaging more than 600 buildings. The bombings killed 52 and injured 151 people. After Vyborg, Turku was the most bombed city in the Winter War. After the war, the President, Marshal Mannerheim, was of the opinion that the capital should be moved from Helsinki to Turku, because during the Moscow truce in 1944, Finland had to cede Porkkala to the Soviet Union as a base right next to Helsinki.
After the war, the population of Turku grew strongly with the birth of large age groups and emigration. Turku has completely connected three neighboring municipalities and parts of the two neighboring municipalities in the period from the 1930s to the 1970s. In about 40 years, Turku increased its area tenfold. Back in the 1930s, Turku belonged almost exclusively to the grid area of the city center. The areas north or west of the Aura River that surrounded it belonged to Marie, and the areas south or east to Kaarina. In 1939, part of Kaarina and in 1944 part of Maaria municipality were connected to Turku. In these connections, the church villages of both municipalities were also connected to Turku, as well as the densely populated communities of Nummenmäki, Vähä-Heikkilä and Raunistula, of which Raunistula belonged to Maaria, the others to Kaarina. In 1967, the rest of the municipality of Maaria was annexed to Turku, a year later the Kakskerra archipelago and in 1973 the municipality of Paattinen. The districts of Mälikkälä, Pahaniemi, Artukaisten, Pansio and Perno are connected from Raisio to Turku. The most recent of these was the merger with the Wärtsilä shipyard to be built in the Perno area. Since then, the city's expansion in land areas has stopped due to the reluctance of neighboring municipalities, especially Raisio and Kaarina, to conduct municipal structure surveys with Turku and to hand over new land areas to Turku. In 2006, however, the Government ordered the municipalities in the vicinity of Turku to carry out a joint study on the reform of the municipal structure. The issue resurfaced in the 2010s, and in 2015 Turku's neighboring municipalities Raisio, Kaarina, Rusko and Lieto decided to reject the amalgamation of municipalities into Greater Turku. At the end of the 20th century and the beginning of the 2000s, Turku has developed into a bustling trade and tourism city.
In 2017, a terrorist attack took place in Turku, killing two people and injuring ten.