Events, Features, Holidays, Kouvola, Travel

Vol 26, Issue 18, 08 March 2024 

The name of the city is Porvoo. The Swedes referred to this city as Borgo, which for a long time was used in Russian documents as the name for the city. It has been called “Castle on the River” or “Castle Above the River”. The scale of retail sales has made the city of Porvoo one of the largest municipal centers. However, for a long period of time, before it acquired the status of a city, the Swedish had a wooden fort on a hill that allowed them to control trade along the river and on the sea for many centuries. Later, Sweden was forced under pressure to give Finland over to Russia. At the start of the 19th century, the first meeting of the Finnish parliament, convened by Russian Emperor Alexander 1, was held in the city of Porvoo.

Today, there are around 50,000 people in Porvoo, 51% of whom are women. The town is bilingually spoken: around 30% of residents speak Swedish. Russians burnt Porvoo twice during the Russuan-Swedish War of 1605-1617. The old town of Porvoo was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List and is known for its many wooden buildings, which are picturesquely situated along the Porvoonjoki River. Most old houses are located to the northwest of the city center.

In honor of the opening of the diet, a ball was held at the Porvoo City Hall. The emperor’s legendary meeting with Ulla Melle, the young daughter of the vice-governor of the city, took place there. The beauty caught the attention of the king’s eyes, and Alexander I invited her to quadrille dance. Flustered, she dropped her fan at his feet. After picking it up, Alexander hid the fan in his chest and only returned it after the end of the dance, which could not help but become a topic of discussion for everyone. Porvoo Cathedral, named after Mary, the mother of Jesus, was built in the XV century in the place of an older church. It received cathedral status in 1723. Barns on the river bank are the visual hallmarks of the city, its symbols and one of the most popular sights in Finland, seen in millions of photographs. At one point, these buildings were used for unloading and loading merchant ships that arrived in Porvoo. These buildings are over 300 years old and are said to have been red painted before the arrival of King Gustav III of Sweden in his honor.

An interesting fact is that there’s a devil’s staircase next to the long-suffering Cathedral in Porvoo. It’s not a man-made staircase, but rather a rock formation that looks like stairs in a rock. It connects two parts of the city and has a landing at the top that offers a stunning view. However, this staircase can be called “diabolical” and not for mystical reasons. In winter and on rainy days it’s quite dangerous to walk up here. Porvoo is the birthplace of the famous Finnish Runeberg cake. The national poet of Finland, Johan Ludwig Runeberg, lived with his family in Porvoo, and here, according to legend, his wife first created this dessert.

 Espoo will also be replacing it with its “Peninsula of Billionaires” – that’s what the Keilaniemi Peninsula is called, where offices of the largest Finnish and international corporations are located, with a turnover estimated to be in billions of euros. These include Nokia, Fortum, Neste, Outokumpu Metallurgical Concern, Orion Drug Manufacturer, M-Real Paper Concern, Finnish Microsoft Branch, TNS Gallup Finnish Center for Sociological and Media Research, Honka Football Club playing in the top division of the Finnish Football Championship and Espoo Blues Hockey Club playing in Finnish SM-League. The famous Formula 1 driver Kimi Raikkonen, and figure skater Laura Lepist, who won the first gold medal in Finland’s history at the European Figure Skating Championships come from Espoo.

Kseniia Parshina
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