Information about Turku
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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% of its inhabitants speak something other than Finnish, Swedish or Sámi as their mother tongue. The largest language groups in Turku are Russian, Arabic, Kurdish, Albanian, Somali, Estonian, English and Farsi communities.
Information and news on city services, decision-making and events can be found on the turku.fi website. Current information is also posted on City of Turku's social media channels on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube (mainly in Finnish).
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
Decision-making and public engagement
City of Turku has updated political decision-making model in August 1st 2021. The City is leaded by the Mayor and three Deputy Mayors.
The City Council, with its 67 City Councillors, has the highest power of decision in the City of Turku. The City Councillors and their deputies are elected once every four years in municipal elections.
The City Board is responsible for the City’s administration and management of finances. It also implements the decisions made by the City Council. The City Board has 13 members selected by the City Council.
The agendas and minutes of the City Council, the City Board and the other administrative bodies are published online on their respective websites. The minutes are also on view at Turku-Piste (Puolalankatu 5); the minutes of the City Council normally on the Thursday of the next week after a meeting (between 9 am and 12 pm) and the minutes of the City Board on the second weekday of the next week after a meeting (between 9 am and 12 pm).
Turku residents have the right to obtain information on preparation and decisions on matters, and to be heard effortlessly and in a fair amount of time. The easiest way to take part in the city's decision-making is to vote in the municipal elections. In addition, the city has created different possibilities for its residents to participate in city matters. These are for example the following:
- Regional forums, that are discussion events open to all citizens.
- The Participatory Budgeting (Asukasbudjetti), which is the city's way of implementing participatory budgeting. People in Turku are able to propose, develop and vote on how EUR 1 million is used per year.
- In the Voice your opinion tool the city asks residents for their opinions on issues in preparation. Matters and opinions can be seen and commented on by anyone.
- A Municipal Initiative (Kuntalaisaloite) is a way of bringing up a current matter or issue.
- The Feedback Service can be used to send positive and negative feedback as well as suggestions on how the city should develop its services and operations.
- There are seven influence groups in Turku that residents can contact regarding matters affecting them: the Turku Children's Parliament, the Youth Council, the Disability Council, the Council of Senior Citizens, the Multicultural Council, the Equality Committee and the Parliament of Sports Clubs.
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:
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
Turku Region TrafficFöliLink redirects to another website
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.