advertisement

Massive and proud, Turku Castle dates from 1280, when it was built on a small island at the mouth of the River Aura, 2.4km (1 1/2 miles) southwest of the city center. This is the largest medieval castle in Finland, and once the entire nation was ruled from here.

After buying your tickets in the entrance hall, you can visit the Porter's Lodge with Finland's first secular murals dating from 1530. A stunning array of medieval wooden religious sculptures is to be seen in a room called Sture Church, which the citizens of Turku used as a house of worship from the 1480s. In the Nun's Chapel hangs the single-most famous artwork in the castle, a 14th-century portrait of the Virgin by the Master of Lieto. In the King's Hall, look for Albert Edelfelt's celebrated painting of Duke Karl Insulting the Corpse of Klaus Fleming, painted in 1878.

The Outer Castle houses the Historical Museum of Turku. Its chief exhibit is a stunning miniature castle model, depicting the castle in the heyday of Duke Johan and his duchess holding court. The collection in the museum includes antiques, some dating from the 17th century, along with porcelain, tapestries, silver work, pewter, glass, costumes, and even flapper dresses from the 1920s.

Note: There are stairs, stairs, and more stairs throughout this monument, some of which are slippery and narrow.