On our penultimate day in Naantali we took a trip to nearby Turku, an easy twenty minute drive and a lucky find – a free of charge parking spot on a street very close to the cathedral.
This is Finland’s oldest town and was the old capital of the country until 1812. It is a seaside gem with an imposing cathedral, a stack of riverboat bars and a wonderful castle full of history to explore. After a disastrous fire in 1828 where nearly all of the old wooden buildings in the town were destroyed, it had to be rebuilt and gradually became the thriving riverside city it is today.
We had a quick look inside the cathedral, located at one end of the river it is the cradle of Finnish evangelical Lutheranism and was bright, airy, light and very impressive inside. Son though was keen to get going so we didn’t linger too long.
We headed away from the cathedral towards the river and loved the variety of boats and things to look at. There was a great choice of dining and drinking options on several moored riverboats – we took note of that for later. Further down towards the castle were two museum ships – Suomen Joutsen, a retired sailing ship and a three masted barque called Sigyn. We admired these from the outside and made our way towards the castle.
It is a couple of miles but a very pleasant stroll along the river to get from the cathedral to the castle. This pale stone, 13th century fortress has been many things in its time including a prison, storehouse and a barracks.
The entrance fee was very reasonable and we paid an extra couple of Euro to take an English language tour. Tours in different languages run frequently throughout the day. Our tour took us through the Medieval part of the castle. Only eight people on the tour, we thoroughly enjoyed hearing the history of this place and it was an interesting and informative way to spend an hour.
There was a “Little Knights Tour” as well for children which takes place daily during summer. We saw some children doing this and it seemed like they were having a great time. It finished with a ceremony where each child got the title “Little Knight of Turku Castle.” Son was just a bit too young at that time but a year or so later and this would definitely have been his thing.
We wandered around the castle afterwards exploring the halls and chambers and had a look at some of the exhibitions.
Afterwards we made our way back along the river bank, stopping for a drink in one of the floating bars, soaked up the atmosphere and watched the boats going up and down the river. A perfect afternoon in Turku.