Walking tour in Old Porvoo
The Old Town of Porvoo is unique. The mosaic-like town plan with its maze of streets and irregulary shaped plots dates back to the Middle Ages. Since then the town suffered many fires, but always the stubborn citizens rebuilt their houses on the same foundations.
Many of the boutiques and services are located on Jokikatu and Välikatu Streets and around the church, but it's also worth looking a bit further. In the sidestreets and lanes it's easy to take a step back in time and forget the modern world. The small idyllic parks and sleepy cobbled streets among the houses entice the visitors to linger and reflect on the past.
The Old Porvoo district currently covers an area of 18 hectares, with 250 residential buildings and 300 outbuildings. Roughly 700 people live in this area.
History of Old Porvoo
Porvoo is one of Finland's six mediaeval towns, and in the Old Town, the district dating back to the time of Swedish rule, you can still sense the atmosphere of the mediaeval town. Porvoo was first granted town rights around 1380. The town was badly destroyed by fire in 1760. Finland was annexed to the Russian Empire as an autonomous Grand Duchy in 1809. Czar Alexander I ordered the first Diet of Finland to be convened in Porvoo. All the buildings in which the Diet of Porvoo was held are still standing, as is the house where the Czar and his entourage were accommodated. At the end of the 19th century the wood-built part of town was threatened with demolition, but it was saved by Count Louis Sparre.
On the guided walking tours you can hear tales from the lanes of Old Porvoo.
Red shore houses on the riverbank are one of the most photographed scenery in Porvoo. Red ochre paint was used to paint the shore houses in the late 18th century in honour of King Gustav III's arrival. All of the houses along his route were painted, in order to make them look more beautiful. The red ochre also helped protect the logs from wind and sun damage. Exotic fruits, wines and spices were brought to Porvoo, and the shore houses also served as intermediate storehouses for coffee an tobacco.
If you want to visit a shore house, you can do it in the summer restaurants Johans or Fryysarinranta. Most of the shore houses are used as private living quarters and storage space.
The castle hills situated north of Old Porvoo are significant ancient monuments. Iso Linnamäki (Great Castle Hill) is the site of one of the biggest ancient fortresses in Finland, while on Pikku Linnamäki (Lesser Castle Hill) there is an Iron Age burial site, discovered in 1965. Iso Linnamäki is criss-crossed by many paths and you there are also now dried up moats, which can still be seen, with wooden bridges across them. There you can also spot the great pine with its twisted roots that artist Albert Edelfelt depicted in his painting ‘Porvoo seen from Linnamäki’. In winter there is a slope on the hill where children can have a great time sledging. In summer kids can join a fun guided Viking Adventure on Castle Hill.
At the foot of the Linnamäki hills is Maari Park, a favourite with Porvoo residents for walks and picnics.
Attractions, tasty food and shopping
All year round there is plenty to see: architecture, art, handicrafts and antiques. A leisurely walk, a visit to a museum or exhibition, a break to enjoy a tasty meal or a drink - these are the most popular ingredients of and excursion to Porvoo.