It is said that you are not truly from Turku if you weren’t born in Heideken. This creates a problem for many as the legendary maternity hospital closed down in 1995.
How can anyone now be properly ’from Turku’ if the only true place to be born ceased operating twenty years ago? Turku’s new citizens are born in Turku University Central Hospital, but part of the Heideken estate can be seen at the Turku Healthcare Museum (Kunnallissairaalantie 20).
The story of Heideken began in 1890 when a medical doctor, Carl von Heideken, set up a private maternity facility. In 1914, von Heideken died suddenly and, after various twists and turns his widow sold the house to the city. There began the history of Turku’s honourable place of birth, although the fate of Heideken as a maternity hospital was at stake from time to time since the 1940s onwards. Eventually all the births were transferred in full to Turku University Central Hospital in 1995, and Heideken closed its doors as a maternity hospital. However, the building had time to witness as many as 150,000 births in Turku. A part of Heidiken’s rich history is the myth that it is the home to its very own Ghost – the Grey Lady. She is thought to be the old nurse, who made sure that the children were doing well.
Today Heideken operates as a facility for children, young people and organisations engaged with the welfare of children, such as the The Mannerheim League for Child Welfare. The house is not open to visitors, but you always can walk past the grounds on your evening walk.