History of Turku…What Happened Here?

Turku is Finland’s oldest town and former capital of Finland. Here are some things you might want to know about the history of Turku.

History of Turku

Turku is Finland’s oldest town and former capital of Finland. It is not known the first people settled in the area of Turku, but it is known to have been a trading place a lot longer before it became a town. Did you know that the name Turku comes from an ancient word tǔrgǔ, which means a trading place. Here are some more facts about the history of Turku.

10 Things to Know about the History of Turku

1229 – Turku is Founded

Turku (known by it Swedish name Åbo) is mentioned for the first time by the Pope Gregory IX in 1229. And this is when the history of Turku began.

1276 – Finland’s First School

Finland’s first school, the Cathedral school (Turun katedraalikoulu in Finnish) is believed to be founded in 1276. It was opened to educate the priests who worked for the church.

1280 – Turku Castle

The construction of the Turku Castle began around 1280, and continued for hundreds of years.

1300 – Turku Cathedral

Turku Cathedral, another famous building in Turku, was consecrated as a cathedral in 1300. The church building that you can visit today isn’t the same however. The first church building was quite small and made of wood, which unfortunately burned down later. The construction of a stone church was started about in the middle of the 14th century.

1543 – The First Book in Finnish

The first book in Finnish language, the Abckiria (alphabet book) by Mikael Agricola was published in Turku in 1543.

1640 – Finland’s First University

Finland’s first university, the Royal Academy of Turku (Turun Akatemia in Finnish) was founded in 1640.

1775 – First Finnish Newspaper

The first newspaper in Finnish language, the Suomenkieliset Tieto-Sanomat is published in Turku in 1775. Here is a link to the first edition.

1809 – The Capital of Finland

When Finland was part of Sweden, Turku was Finland’s unofficial capital. But when Finland became the autonomous Grand Duchy, Turku’s status as capital became offical. Unfortunately, Turku got to keep its status only for three years. In 1812 Helsinki became the capital of Finland.

1827 – The Great Fire of Turku

The Great Fire of Turku (Turun Palo in Finnish) in 1827 almost destroyed the whole town. It was (and still is) the most destructive city fire in the history of the Nordic countries.

2029 – Turku Turns 800

Turku will celebrate its 800th birthday in 2029.

History of Turku
Image by Carl von Kugelgen, 1823, Finnish Heritage Agency