Turku is the oldest city and former capital of Finland. It was settled during the 13th century, making it one of the only few – and by far the largest – medieval cities in Finland. Turku is the cradle of Finnish culture, since over the years it has played an important role as the gateway to Finland for international influence.
Bisecting Turku city centre, the river Aura is the heart and soul of the city: this is where Turku was born and a large part of city life – museums, sights, restaurants and cafés – still concentrates around the banks of the river. The river banks, together with the island of Ruissalo with its oak forests and 19th century villas, form a national urban park allowing for a pleasant stroll from, say, the national shrine of Finland, the Turku Cathedral, to the Turku Castle, which used to house Swedish Kings. Turku is at its best in summertime, when it hosts a great number of festivals, including rock festivals, chamber music festivals and a medieval fair.
In addition to the cultural sights and museums, Turku attracts visitors due to the Archipelago Sea, which stretches all the way from Turku to Åland and on to Stockholm, forming the largest archipelago in the world by the number of islands and islets.