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Kiss my Turku

Art Chapel
St. Henry's Ecumenical Art Chapel
Nothing can truly describe the wonder of seeing the Art Chapel for the first time. I was at once drawn to the blinding light at the end of the proverbial tunnel as soon as I entered the chapel. But rather than walk up to the altar, I opted to sit awhile on one of the plain pine pews to slowly take it all in and savor the peace and beauty of my surroundings. I enjoyed precious few minutes of blissful contemplation (as I was the only visitor then) until a couple arrived and the missus asked me to remove my handbag from the bench so she could take a perfect photo of the Chapel. :( 

The architect, Matti Sanaksenaho, wanted to incorporate three symbols in his design. One of them is light, in this case, the idea of "the path from darkness to light". The visitor emerges from the shadows at the entrance and is led toward the light at the altar under exquisitely arched Finnish timber.

St. Henry's Ecumenical Art Chapel
Art Chapel exterior
The model for the design of the Art Chapel was a block of wood inspired by a fish which the architect carved while on a fishing trip in Lapland. The fish is another of the three symbols the architect incorporated in his design. The fish (IKTHYS) signifies the Christian church. The third symbol is the ship. 

The exterior of the structure is wrapped in copper except for the glass windows that filter light into the Chapel. The words usko (faith), toivo (hope), rakkaus (love) and jubilato (rejoice) are written on the glass. "I am with you always" from Matthew 28:20 is also written on the glass on the floor level. 

Religious services are held in the chapel as are weddings, concerts, poetry readings and art and architecture exhibitions. 

Take Bus 54 (which runs approximately every 30 minutes during the summer) from Kauppatori. The bus stop in Hirvensalo is at the Chapel's parking lot.

Aura River, Turku
Aura River
The Aura River cuts across Turku and flows into the Archipelago Sea. Numerous boat restaurants are docked along the river providing tasty options and water therapy.

One of the most pleasurable times I had in Turku was walking along the tree-lined riverbank.  

Turku Cathedral
Turku Cathedral is the oldest building in Turku and is Finland's National Shrine. It was consecrated in 1300 as the Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The cathedral was taken over by the Lutheran Church of Finland during the reformation.

Turku City Library
Bright as the sun, these city bikes are convenient alternatives for exploring Turku. They are parked in several locations around town. The bicycles above are in front of the library, a short distance from Turku Cathedral. The library offers architecture, art and cultural history tours and wireless connection, among other services. 

Turku Castle
Construction of Turku Castle started in the late 13th century. It was primarily built as a defensive fortress by the Swedish conquerors to guard the mouth of the Aura River. Duke John of Finland (son of King Gustav Vasa of Sweden)  transformed the castle into a palatial residence in the Renaissance style while living in Turku from 1556-1563. Notice the wooden bridge connecting the two sides of the castle that was built during his reign.  

Two Lovers
Several murals from 1530 were discovered hidden behind a layer of wall in the Porter's Lodge. This particular mural is called Two Lovers. The gentleman is seen giving the lady a red carnation, a symbol of true love and chivalry. The lady wears her hair down her back which means she is unmarried. Her white apron signifies chastity. They are surrounded by cranberry garlands.

Turku Castle also served as a prison at one time. Here's an original "hole in the wall" used by prisoners.

Renaissance Chapel, Turku Castle
Duke John was married to Catherine Jagellon who was a Catholic Polish princess. This chapel was part of the renovation of the castle in the 16th century.

Take Bus 1 from Kauppatori to Turku Castle.

Kiss my Turku is the tourism slogan of Turku. It could be misconstrued as irreverent. It's definitely catchy and amusing. And according to, the city of Turku's website, Turku "has that certain something". I concur.

How to get to Turku:
Take the train from Helsinki Central Station. It's a two-hour ride. Fares vary depending on day and time of departure. There is a discount for seniors who are at least 65 years of age.

How to get around:
The Föli Bus system in Turku is efficient and you can pay the driver in cash for a single ticket which is good for 2 hours travel or use a travel card. (The fare was 3 euros during my visit in June 2018.) Many buses leave from and terminate at the Market Square in the city center. For schedules and routes, check

Where to stay:
Ursininkatu 15 A 
This is a religious house offering rooms with ensuite bathroom. it is conveniently located 300 meters from the train station and close to bus routes and the city center. I would recommend this hotel to single women travelers and for those who are traveling on a budget. My room rate in June 2018 was 45 euros/day, breakfast included.

Where to eat:
Woolshed Bar and Kitchen
Yliopistonkatu 29b
Their lobster tail with mixed vegetables was worth the 28-euro price
Kitchen & Café, Stockmann Dept. Store

I ordered their grilled Kala fish (see above). It was succulent, savory, rich and served with asparagus, peas and potatoes. All for 17.40 euros. There are other grilled offerings on the daily menu.
Turku Market Hall
This elegant food hall dates back to 1896. There are many choices here for fresh catch or seafood, meats and cheese, sandwiches or cakes and pastries. 


Images by TravelswithCharie


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