Culture Walk 1

Vähätori Square
The first Culture Walk tour leads visitors through Turku’s Vähätori Square, where it is recommended to visit, at a minimum, Turku City Library and the Chapel of the Holy Spirit. Additionally, located along the bank of the River Aura, the statue entitled ‘A Meeting in Turku in 1812’ has an intriguing historical context.

1. Turku City Library

The original patron of Turku City Library was the Swedish-born businessman Fredrik von Rettig. At its inception the building had class stratification, with the first floor for the working class and the second for the elite. Eventually this distinction was dissolved and the library was united for all to visit. The library’s long history has many stories to tell. A favourite amongst the librarians is the helpful ghost who organizes all the books.

  • Top Tip: Visit the library but be sure not to anger the ghost by making a mess of the bookshelves.

2. Chapel of the Holy Spirit

You’ll find the Chapel of the Holy Spirit concealed in a basement situated at the Julin block. Preceding the chapel was a house of the Holy Spirit and a Holy Spirit Church in the 1390s. Over time the church was abandoned and left to deteriorate until archaeologists rediscovered it. Now the Chapel of the Holy Spirit is found in the ruins of the Holy Spirit Church.

  • Top Tip: Book a visit to the Chapel of the Holy Spirit and escape from the stress of the city into peace and tranquillity.

3. A Meeting in Turku in 1812

A statue from Russian artist Andrei Kovaltshuk depicts the meeting in 1812 of Russian Emperor Alexander I and Swedish Crown Prince Karl XIV Johan. Alexander I and Karl Johan were negotiating about how Sweden and Russia should respond to the threat of Napoleon. It was also notable for being the point at which Sweden gave up its interest in recapturing Finland from Russia. Since 2012 the statue has been in its scenic location along the banks of the River Aura.

  • Top Tip: Imagine that you were attending the meeting of Alexander I and Karl XIV Johan. What negotiation position would you have taken?