Friday, November 02, 2012

Porvoo Shows Old Finnish Charm

Porvoo is a charming Finnish town located some fifty kilometers northeast of Helsinki.  There is convenient bus service available that runs you down a four-lane super highway in little over an hour, but we chose to take a relaxing three hour boat ride up the coast to reach the city.

This, first of all,  gives you an opportunity to take in the stunning Helsinki harbor

 You glide by oodles of islands,

--some rocky and austere,  and  

some just itching to provide an angler with the morning's fresh catch.

The shoreline is peppered with little inlets.  You can often see tidy summer homes and fancy mansions tucked into the trees.

Our boat was the historic J.L. Runeberg.  This old photo was on display in the on-board snack bar. It showed the hundred year old wooden craft docked pretty much where it is still docked today.

Our captain was a totally relaxed Finn.  He even kicked off his shoes as we headed north toward Porvoo.

The town itself is tucked back nicely out of the way down a lazily winding stream. Negotiating that channel did take a bit more completely shod and stand-up steering-- though not with that big wheel.  He actually had two little joy sticks on a computer panel that you can't see in the picture.

Time to ease in to shore now.

Shortly after alighting you are deposited into a Finland that preceded the squared off modern of most contemporary Finnish towns and the neo-classic grandeur of Helsinki.  You quickly find yourself is a world of old waterfront warehouses,   

narrow cobblestone streets,

strolling families,

 and freshly painted buildings.  Porvoo clearly trades on its tourist pleasing look,  but it is a look well worth taking in if you are lucky enough to visit Finland. 

Nobody will go hungry in Porvoo. The town is well equipped with coffee shops, tearooms, and restaurants.

 The local specialities are snails, fish,  and chocolate.  My daughter-in-law chose the snails, but we stuck to the fish and chocolate.

The top attraction of the town is the 15th century Lutheran Cathedral and fittingly it is located on the highest hill around.  It is a climb, but on this sunny day its whitewashed stone and intricate brickwork was stunning.


The lower part of the separate bellfry tower dates to the middle ages and the upper section was built in the 18th century. 

Lovingly restored after a disastrous 2006 fire, the interior carries a comfortable beauty that seems to balance the historic with the modern.  Some early wall paintings have been preserved and restored.

The organ is 20th century but the facade dates from 1799 

The pulpit dates from 1764

The crucifix that hangs above the altar is from the beginning of the 18th century. 

We had a glorious day in Porvoo and returned to Helsinki and the 21st century in a short hour's bus ride.  Thanks for coming along. 





No comments: