Turku's Architectural Jewels, Turku

Turku's Architectural Jewels (Self Guided), Turku

The oldest city in Finland, Turku, has several attractive old buildings that catch the eye and showcase the city's rich history and culture.

Prime among such jewels are the Turku Orthodox Church, characterized by its distinctive onion-shaped domes, the historic neoclassical Swedish-language Abo Svenska Theater, and the beautiful late 19th-century Turku Old Market Hall (Turun Kauppahalli).

For those interested in Turku's beer-making, Panimoravintola Koulu Brewery offers a unique blend of history and modernity housed in a former school turned brewing facility. Other sights of distinction include the Turku City Office and City Hall, blending modern Scandinavian design with functional elegance.

The Verdand House, an 1898 New Renaissance building, currently serves as a center for Finnish Swedes in Turku, housing the Swedish Club and Finland's oldest newspaper, while its ground floor hosts the popular Café Fontana, offering freshly baked goods. Meanwhile, the Cathedral School of Abo (Katedralskolan i Abo), an educational institution established in the late 13th century, reflects Turku's scholarly traditions.

The Brinkkala and Hjelt mansions are exquisite examples of 19th-century neoclassical architecture with impressive Ionic columns reminiscent of ancient Roman and Greek landmarks, offering glimpses into Turku's affluent past.

Each of these prominent landmarks tells its own story, contributing to the tapestry of Turku's urban landscape. To truly appreciate the architectural splendor of Turku, we encourage you to embark on this self-guided walking tour and discover the city's construction marvels for yourself!
How it works: Download the app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from Apple App Store or Google Play Store to your mobile phone or tablet. The app turns your mobile device into a personal tour guide and its built-in GPS navigation functions guide you from one tour stop to next. The app works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

Download The GPSmyCity App

Turku's Architectural Jewels Map

Guide Name: Turku's Architectural Jewels
Guide Location: Finland » Turku (See other walking tours in Turku)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 10
Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.7 Km or 1.1 Miles
Author: sabrina
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Turku Orthodox Church
  • Åbo Svenska Teater
  • Turun Kauppahalli (Turku Old Market Hall)
  • Panimoravintola Koulu Brewery
  • Turku City Office
  • Turku City Hall
  • Verdand House and Cafe Fontana
  • Katedralskolan i Åbo (Cathedral School of Åbo)
  • Brinkkala Mansion
  • Hjelt Mansion
Turku Orthodox Church

1) Turku Orthodox Church

Turku Orthodox Church, or the Church of the Holy Martyr Empress Alexandra, is the main church of the Turku Orthodox parish located on the northeast corner of Turku Market Square in Turku, Finland.

The church was built under the order of Nicholas I of Russia in 1838 and designed by architect Carl Ludvig Engel. Construction of the Neoclassical church began in 1839 and was completed in 1845. The church was consecrated on September 2, 1846.

Turku Orthodox Church was dedicated to Alexandra, the spouse of Diocletian, Roman Emperor. She had publicly become Christianised and suffered a martyr's death. It is thought, she was chosen as the patron saint since Nicholas I's wife was named Aleksandra.

The church was built in the late Empire architectural style, in the shape of an equal-armed cross. The exterior consists of Doric porticoes with four columns. The dome is crowned with a cross lantern. The total height of the church is 102 feet.

The interior of the church features 16 composite columns made of artificial marble. The walls are white, while the space under the dome is blue and studded with golden stars. The church has a two-story iconostasis. The bottom row consists of nine icons, and the top - of the four. Most of the icons came from Valaam Monastery located in the Russia's Karelia region.

The religious services are held in Finnish and once a month in the Church Slavonic language. The Turku Orthodox Church building is protected as an architectural monument of state importance.
Åbo Svenska Teater

2) Åbo Svenska Teater

Åbo Svenska Teater is a Finland-Swedish theatre and the oldest theatre in the country, founded in 1839. The building itself is also the oldest still functioning theatre house in Finland. The name means "The Swedish theatre of Åbo"; Åbo is the Swedish name of the city of Turku.

The theatre has been located in its present building since 1839, when it was opened with the play Gubben i Bergsbygden the 21 January 1839. During the 19th century, the theatre did not have a permanent staff, as Finland did not have any native actors at this point; the actors consisted of travelling Swedish troupes, which toured both Sweden and Finland, of which one of the most notable was the troupe of Pierre Deland, which performed regularly on this theatre in the 1840s and 1850s. The first native actors performed in the theatre in 1872, though it was not to be until 1894, that the first complete troupe entirely of native actors performed here.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Turun Kauppahalli (Turku Old Market Hall)

3) Turun Kauppahalli (Turku Old Market Hall) (must see)

The Turku Old Market Hall is a shopping hall that opened in 1896 in Turku. It holds approximately 40 merchants.

The shopping hall was designed by Gustaf Nystrom, an architect who specialized in shopping malls. It is the second-oldest market hall in the country. It was built to bring market trading indoors, which the city thought would help merchants and their customers avoid physical fights and horse traffic.

The hall had space for 151 shops when it was newly constructed. The first cafe opened there in 1902. Some 70 years later, the Old Market Hall underwent a massive remodel to update cooling and heating systems. Another renovation in 2013 transformed the interior into up-to-date shops and a food court.

Consumers may purchase bread, dairy, meat, fish, handicrafts, flowers, toys, clothes, or jewelry. Cheeses, teas, and spices are popular items with tourists who want to save a sample of Finnish cuisine.
Panimoravintola Koulu Brewery

4) Panimoravintola Koulu Brewery

Panimoravintola Koulu is a Finnish brewery restaurant in the city of Turku. Koulu (School) is the largest brewery restaurant in Finland and it is situated in a former Neo-Renaissance-style school building from 1889 by architects L. I. Lindqvist and Bruno Granholm. The school to first occupy the building was "Svenska Fruntimmerskola", which was later renamed as the "Svenska flickskolan i Åbo" in 1916, again in 1955 when it became "Åbo svenska flicklyseum", until finally in 1966 the name was changed to "Cygnaeus skola". On 4 of February 1940 the school was hit by a incendiary bomb, which set fire to the roof and destroyed the assembly hall (now known as the Bellman assembly hall). One of the high points in the history of Koulu was the visit of Commander-in-Chief, Baron Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim on 14 February in 1941.

The brewery has four regularly produced beers and one cider. On top of which, the brewery also produces several (at least 12) special or seasonal brews throughout the year. All the beers are made under the regulations of the German purity law, the Reinheitsgebot from 1516. It allows only the use of water, malted barley, hops and yeast.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Turku City Office

5) Turku City Office

Settled in the heart of the city next to City Hall, Turku City Office is another must-see attractive building thanks to its eye-catching architectural features. Turku City Office structure is a fine example of Art Nouveau architectural style - an international movement and style of art and architecture that became popular at the end of the 20th century.
Turku City Hall

6) Turku City Hall

Turku City Hall is a Neo-Renaissance building located on the bank of the Aura River in Turku.

It was originally designed by Charles Bassi from 1810-1811 as the restaurant Seurahuone. The building survived the Great Fire of Turku in 1827. It was redone 1879-1883 as the city hall under plans by F. A. Sjöström.

The first floor used to have the register office of Turku up until 1975 and Turku district court until 1997. After the district court of Turku moved to the new Turku courthouse, the first floor was replaced by work, meeting and legislative spaces in 1999. The second floor of the building is decorated with gold and massive crystal crowning. The wing of the building, located on Aurakatu 4, is for city council groups' rooms and travel agency services.

The public can enter the building during specific events such as Turku Day. The public is also permitted to witness the city council assembly.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Verdand House and Cafe Fontana

7) Verdand House and Cafe Fontana

The Verdand House (Verdandihuset) is a New Renaissance building designed by Turku architect Frithiof Strandell.

The building, which was completed in 1898, was originally intended to function primarily as a residential building for wealthier bourgeois families, is today somewhat of a center for the Finnish Swedes in the city. The Swedish Club in Turku conducts its business in the attic of the building and Finland's oldest still published newspaper Turku Underrättelser has its office on the third floor of the building.

Conveniently located in the city centre's historical surroundings, Café Fontana is hugely popular among both locals and tourists. This lovely café, located on the building ground floor, offers its visitors delicious, in-house baked goods such as cinnamon rolls, cakes, pies, muffins and croissants, which are served with freshly ground coffee sauce. The menu also includes fresh salads, tasty pastas and other yummy dishes. Café Fontana is a great place in which to have lunch on the terrace and experience the busy city life.
Katedralskolan i Åbo (Cathedral School of Åbo)

8) Katedralskolan i Åbo (Cathedral School of Åbo)

Katedralskolan i Åbo (The Cathedral School of Åbo) is the Swedish-language senior high school.

The school was presumably founded in 1276 for education of boys to become servants of the Church.

The current schoolhouse was built after the conflagration of Turku in 1827. In the 1970s Svenska klassiska lyceum and Åbo svenska flicklyceum, The Swedish Girls' Secondary School of Turku, were united and the old school name Katedralskolan i Åbo, the Cathedral School of Turku, was revived.

In 1977, the introduction of the comprehensive school system in Turku also caused the transferral of the Katedralskolan to the City of Turku.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Brinkkala Mansion

9) Brinkkala Mansion

The Brinkala Mansion is a beautiful building best known for the tradition of public declaration of Christmas peace; it started here in 1886 from the balcony of the mansion that is known as the Christmas peace balcony. The origins of the mansions date back to the 16th century when it was a town house and a hotel. Today the mansion’s courtyard is home to various events such as the Medieval Market.
Hjelt Mansion

10) Hjelt Mansion

Former Police Station, Cultural Center and City Library, Hjelt Mansion is a lovely two-storey stone complex built in 1830, a few years after the Great Fire of Turku. Impressive Ionic columns and the Greek temple style of ornamental details remind us of ancient Roman and Greek landmark buildings.

Walking Tours in Turku, Finland

Create Your Own Walk in Turku

Create Your Own Walk in Turku

Creating your own self-guided walk in Turku is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Turku Introduction Walking Tour

Turku Introduction Walking Tour

Turku is the oldest city in Finland. The city served as the capital of Finland from September 1809 through April 1812. It is a popular tourist destination because of its long history and impact on Finnish culture.

The name "Turku" derives from the Slavic word for marketplace. Not surprisingly, Turku has popular markets like those held at the Turku Old Market Hall and Market Square.

...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.9 Km or 1.2 Miles