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Turku – Description of a city

Turku is a city of around 160.000 and is situated on the west coast of southern Finland. Just off the coast is the second biggest archipelago in the world. The city is built on the banks of the river Aura, which used to be its main channel of access. Today there are numerous bridges across the river. Both sides of the canal are lined with the most important buildings of the city: theatre, university, churches, art academy, museums, shipyards, restaurants, cafes and the new library. For 600 years under Swedish rule Turku / Abo was the biggest and most important city in Finland.

On the way to the university one can see the developments of the Abo Academy. Old faculty buildings are more and more enhanced by new architecture. In the lobby of the educational centre is the “Baltic Table” by Michelangelo Pistoletto, which was created in connection with NUROPE, the nomadic university. Kim, Peter and Reino waited for us in a large and well equipped meeting room. The general impression was: well-structured, bright and friendly, good art in the rooms create an inspiring atmosphere.

Afterwards we visited Turku’s cathedral, St. Henrik, a national monument and the seat of the Protestant-Lutheran church of Finland. The cathedral is 700 years old, has always been the seat of the bishop, and is the most important and precious monument of the country.

After the quiet holidays we could feel a pulsation throughout the city. What impressed us most today was the evening light. Just after the rain stopped, a wall of light starting from the horizon stretched over the city and illuminated everything with a golden hue. In an instant the light changed the atmosphere of the city.

The next day started with a visit to the library. Everybody in the city appreciates this place for culture very well. Reino takes out some historic documents about the happenings during the Second World War to show them to Aurelia and Inge.

Afterwards we went downriver to the academy. The ships on the canal were still in hibernation. The season for ship restaurants starts only in early May.
In the academy, an old shipyard, the director and one professor welcomed us. We were shown around all the ateliers and got a good insight into the way art is taught here – with strong roots in the traditional techniques. The classrooms are very large and architecturally interesting. Along with fine art, there is the university for music, the conservatory, a theatre and a dancing school. The large music theatre and an adjoining restaurant in the erstwhile shipyard give a very generous impression. The whole academy, situated in a small city of 160.000, appears to be very innovative, exemplary and generous, and gives art and education the position they deserve.

Turku – Part 1
Turku – Part 2

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