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05.08.2020

Turku Castle

Turku Castle, Obu Castle - A Swedish castle in Turku (Finland), which acquired a close to modern look during the reign of Gustav Vasa.

Turku Castle is one of the most remarkable state medieval castles in Finland. From time to time it played a major role in the history of Sweden and Northern Europe. The castle is located at the mouth of the Aurajoki River. Originally, the Swedish king ordered a fortified camp to be built on the site of the future castle at the end of the 13th century, probably after Varsinais-Suomi (southwestern Finland) became part of the Swedish kingdom. The castle was expanded several times during the Middle Ages and later, in the 16th century, during the Renaissance.

At the beginning of the new era, as a result of changes caused by military events in Europe, medieval castles lost their importance. From the end of the 16th century, Turku Castle was primarily used as a prison and storage area. And from the end of the XIX century it served as a museum, although it was severely damaged on June 25, 1941 as a result of the bombing of the Soviet Air Force. As a result, after the Second World War, the castle had to undergo extensive repair and restoration work.

Nowadays Turku Castle is among the most important monuments in the history of Finnish construction. In the premises of the Castle there is a Historical Museum of Turku, subordinated to the Turku County Museum. In addition, the castle chapel is popular as a wedding venue, and the castle's Renaissance halls can be rented for celebrations. The café-restaurant of the front castle organizes medieval feasts for visitors, among other things.

The beginning of construction works in Turku Castle dates back to the time when south-western Finland was incorporated into the Kingdom of Sweden.

In the Middle Ages, the King of Sweden was to build a part of the state, which was called the Eastern Land, i.e. to build fortresses for protection and administration. Along with Turku Fortress, later the construction of Vyborg, Hämenlinna, Raazepori and Olavinlinna Fortresses also began.

In the 1280s or the beginning of the 14th century, the construction of fortified camps for the Swedish king's governor and royal soldiers began at the mouth of the Aura-Yoki River. It is possible that there used to be a wooden fortification at this place. For medieval wars, heavily fortified fortresses played a central role, and Turku Fortress was first also built on the island for defensive purposes. The location was good, because it was difficult to surround the fortress, and from the fortress it was possible to follow the movement of ships to Aura-Joki, as well as maintain maritime traffic with Sweden. In addition, Turku Castle's special task was to protect the medieval town of Turku, located around the Cathedral.

Archaeological and construction history studies indicate that Turku Castle was originally built using samples from Gotland. The building material was grey granite and later bricks. Limestone imported from Gotland could also be used in details. In the XIV-XV centuries Turku Castle was expanded at various stages of construction, especially in the second half of the XV century, during the reign of the Regent of the Wall of Sture the Elder. The oldest medieval part of the castle, i.e. the main castle, has a rectangular shape and in its western and eastern ends there are strong four-sided towers. The long sides of the main castle are the wings of four-storey buildings. The courtyard of the main castle is closed, and in the Middle Ages there was an intermediate wall in the middle of the main castle, which divided the castle into parts - the highest (palace) and the lowest. In the 15th century, a new fortification was built outside the main castle, which was called the front fortress.

Turku Castle, like other medieval fortresses, was intended for military use, and the garrison was under the command of the chief of the castle or royal viceroy. In addition, the castle was also an important administrative centre in the Middle Ages and, for example, the kings of Sweden lived in Turku Castle while in Finland. At times, for example in the XIV century, when Matthias Kettilmundson was the governor, the castle was also used for court life. Turku Castle, especially during the Union of Squids, often became an arena for internal state political strife. The longest and most famous siege in the history of the castle took place in 1364-1365, when Albrecht of Mecklenburg with his military forces seized the castle after more than eight months of siege, suppressing the resistance of troops loyal to Magnus Eriksson.

The castle is not the first in this region. A much older fortification controlling river navigation on the Aura River, the "Old Castle" (Fin. fi:Liedon Vanhalinna) was located upstream on the top of a high hill (47 m above the river). It was captured by the Swedes around 1000 and used until 1370. It lost its importance due to the rise of the land and the rapids to Halinen on the river (Fin. fi:Halinen). The castle of the Catholic bishop in Kuusiston piispanlinna, mentioned in 1295, was also located on a sea island, but did not control the mouth of the Aura River and needed additional forces to defend it. After being captured by the enemy, it turned into a convenient stronghold of the enemy. This happened in 1522, when the Danes seized the castle from the sea. The cannons were earlier taken to Turku to support the Swedes' attempts to repel Turku Castle itself from the Danes. King Gustav I Vasa ordered it to be dismantled in 1528. Presumably, it was used as a building material for the front fortress of Turku Castle.

Around this time, the rise of the land finally connected the skerry on which the castle was founded to the mainland. The defence of the castle was gradually moved from the main castle to the front and further to new areas. During the existence of the castle, the land has risen by 3-5 meters.

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