At the address Maariankatu 3 can be seen a modest memorial plaque. It marks the place from which the Great Fire of Turku started in 1827.
Between the 4th and 5th of September 1827 Turku was almost completely destroyed by fire that the was started from the house of the merchant Carl Gustav Hellman on Aninkaistenmäki Hill, currently one side of Puutori Square.
At first the maid Maria Vassia was suspected of igniting the fire, but to no purpose. Later studies have shown that apparently the fire started from the neighbouring chimney of the Hellman house, the hay in the roof igniting, sparks flew and the rest is history.
Turku burned to ashes and approximately 2,500 homes were destroyed. There were nearly 30,000 homeless from Turku, although the death toll was quite low when considering the extent of the destruction, reaching only a few dozen.
The Great Fire of Turku was a national disaster because Turku was Finland's largest city at the time. Turku Academy burned down and at the same time many historical manuscripts were lost. When the Academy moved to Helsinki, at that time Finland's new capital, it was clear that Turku’s time as Finland's most important city was drawing to a close.
In 1828 the designs of the architect Carl Ludvig Engel for the new town planning, on which the city’s design is still based, were confirmed. To know what Turku was like before the fire it’s a must to visit the Luostarinmäki Handicrafts museum, an entire area spared from the fire.