Living in Finland

Cities

Tietoa Turusta

Information about Turku

Basic Information

Turku is the oldest city of Finland and the former capital of the country. Turku is also one of Finland's biggest cities and its population is approximately 180 000. Turku is located in the region of Southwest Finland and it is the capital of the Province of Western Finland.

Turku is officially a bilingual city and roughly 5% of its inhabitants speak Swedish as their mother tongue.

Turku is also a very multicultural city and some 14,000 of its inhabitants speak something other than Finnish or Swedish as their mother tongue. There are 130 different nationalities living in Turku. The biggest ethnic groups in Turku are Russian, Estonian, Iraqi, Iranian, Somali and Swedish communities.

linkkiCity of Turku:
Turku.infoFinnish | Swedish | English

History of Turku

The city of Turku was born already in the 13th century in the place where the river Aura runs to the sea. Many consider that the history of the city begins with a letter, in which Pope Gregory IX gave the permission to move the bishopric to what we nowadays know as Turku. Turku was the biggest city of Finland and it was also one of the largest and most important medieval cities of the whole Swedish kingdom.

The word turku comes from tǔrgǔ, a word in Ancient Russian which means ”market place” i.e. tori in Finnish.

Thanks to the good transport connections many people and specially merchants moved to Turku. Little by little the city grew bigger and became wealthier. In those days the city centre was located around the Turku Cathedral. Most houses and buildings were built from wood and therefore there were also many fires.

The Turku Castle, which was located near the city, was one of the most important strongholds of secular power on Finnish soil. Despite the cover given by the castle, the city ended up being the main stage for many wars in the Middle Ages.

The importance of Turku as a stronghold of the Swedish empire in the east was highlighted in the 17th century by the founding of several schools and administrative institutions. For example, the provincial governement was established in Turku in 1617, and Finland's first court of appeal, the Turun hovioikeus, was founded in 1623. In 1640, the Queen of Sweden ordered the first university in Finland, the Royal Academy of Turku, to be established in Turku.

In the years 1808-1809, Sweden and Russia fought a war as a result of which Finland was ceded to Russia. Thus the Russian Emperor became the ruler of Finland and Finns became Russian citizens.

In 1809, Turku became the capital of an autonomous Finland and the central government of the Grand Duchy was placed in the city. Because of its historical status, there were already important offices in Turku. However, the capital was soon moved to Helsinki in 1812, because Emperor Alexander I felt that Turku was too aligned with Sweden and too close to the former mother country.

Except for the seat of the Archbishop, all the other institutions of central government and the Royal Academy of Turku were moved to the new capital after the Great Fire of Turku in 1827. After the Great Fire, which was the most disastrous in the history of Nordic countries, the new city plan was designed by the architect Carl Ludwig Engel.

Yet, one part of the city survived the Great Fire of Turku completely unharmed: the Luostarinmäki Hill (literally: the Cloister Hill) was located so high on a hill that the flames did not reach it. Nowadays, Luostarinmäki is a museum where you can see how people lived in the 19th century.

In the 1820's, there were approximately one million people living in Finland and 12 000 in Turku. Turku was the biggest city in Finland until the 1840's.

Transport

Turku has an efficient network of public transport and the city is well connected to other parts of Finland.

Using the Turku region public transport service, Föli, you can search for information on travel routes in Turku and in the Turku Region. The service helps you to find your way from one place to another by using public buses.

When travelling on public buses, you can pay by cash or by a travel card, which you can buy at a service counter.

You can load your travel card at a service counter or on the bus. For more information on sales offices and loading your travel card visit the Föli website.

Contact information for the public transport service office:

Aurakatu 5, 20100 Turku
Tel. (02) 262 4811, fax (02) 262 4887
Open Mon-Fri 8.00-18.00, Sat 9.00-14.00

Turku is well connected by road and public transport, and it is easy to travel from Turku to different parts of Finland and specially to the capital region and Helsinki. Turku also has an airport that operates domestic and international flights.

In Finland, traffic drives on the right. During the dark seasons, remember to use a reflector, which will help you to be seen in traffic. Motorists can distinguish someone using a reflector from three times further away than someone without one. When riding a bicycle, you should use a helmet. You can find information about Finnish traffic safety and behaviour at the traffic safety website of Liikenneturva

For more information: Traffic in Finland

linkkiTurku regiontrafik:
FöliFinnish | Swedish | English

linkkiFinavia:
Turku AirportFinnish | English

linkkiVr.fi:
TimetablesFinnish | Swedish | English | Russian

linkkiMatkahuolto:
Travel ServicesFinnish | Swedish | English

linkkiLiikenneturva:
LiikenneturvaFinnish | Swedish | English

linkkiLiikenneturva:
Liikenneturva plain language pagesFinnish

Religion

There are many different active religious communities and temples as well as several activity centres of different religions in Turku. For information on religious communities in different regions visit the website of The Religions in Finland Project.

For more information: Cultures and religions in Finland

linkkiReligions in Finland:
CommunitiesFinnish | English

Decision-making and public engagement

The highest decision-making authority in terms of the city's operations is the City Council, which has a total of 67 Council members representing different political groups. The Council is elected in municipal elections that take place every four years. For more information on the City Council and its decisions made in the town hall at Aurakatu 2 go to the website of the City of Turku.

The protocols made on the meetings are held on public display at the City Administration's Turku-piste service point usually on the Thursday following the week when the meeting was held.

Contact information:

Puolalankatu 5
20100 Turku
Open from Mon to Fri from 9.00 to 15.00

On the Nuortenideat.fi website, you can express your opinions on issues that concern you and are related to your own home municipality. Nuortenideat.fi is an Internet website where young people can make various suggestions for improvements and comment on ideas presented by others.

For more information: Participate and influence

linkkiTurun kaupunki:
Turku-piste -service pointFinnish

linkkiCity of Turku:
Nuorten ideat.fi (youth ideas.fi) Finnish | Swedish