We visited the small and lovely small town about 50Km from Helsinki. One of the tourist board literature says people come from all other the world to visit Porvoo, I wouldn’t be sure is that is the case because while it has many nice wooden buildings it would be rather small to see as a main destination. The town comes off as a nice residential area and certainly less touristy than my recent trip to Szentendre for example. Porvoo has the highest concentration of artists in Finland but even though this is the case coupled with the fact that the town is less touristy than many places, there was also less to do, if not eating, drinking or walking the pretty streets.
If one is not accustomed to wooden buildings then it may ‘enchant the visitor time and time again’ as the tourist board likes to sing the praises. However to Valeria the place was simply nice but not particularly special as there are plenty of Russian villages with woodern buildings too.
The Town is the 2nd oldest in Finland however but most of the buildings are from the 19th century. Like London (which once had many wooden buildings before the fire) it suffered a great fire. The fire here started when a housewife was cooking fish soup and left the stove unattended. End result? 200 of the 293 houses in Porvoo burnt down! Since the fire unlike London many wooden buildings have been rebuilt or erected.
A City of Art
Porvoo is a city for artists and it would not be complete without some connection to Finnish artists and culture and it has an important connection for Finland. Here the celebrated national poet, Swedish speaking Johan Lidvig Runeberg was born here and there are also several other places associated with him, such as the grammar school where he taught Latin and Greek. A composer Gabriel Linsen has a park named after him and he apparently used to greet Runeberg on his birthday by singing under his window (5th February) and apparently although Runeberg has long departed students continue that custom to this very day.
Also not to be forgotten is Albert Edelfelt. The Finish painter who achieved some international fame too was born 4km outside but according to the tourist board he painted ‘immortalised views of Porvoo’.
Oh, Porvoo ‘castle’ written with the quote marks even by the tourist board is a tourist trap, which fortunately you cannot enter. It is not a castle just a place where the Tsar once stayed in a visit.
Valeria and I mostly followed the suggesting walking route of the tourist information but also went to additional places. We visited the Porvoo Doll and Toy museum which was smaller than the one in Helsinki but for me more enjoyable too
We ate at both “Bar & Café Porvoo Roastery) in a nice building and Amarillo. A kind of Finnish style of Mexican restaurant.
The animation is a very big Finnish success story, in that the animation has reached across the globe. Whether many people identify it with Finland is another story and its amazing success in Japan and the mass market for The Moomins branded items means many may think it is Japanese. It is Finnish and important too. Apparently even a Finnish president has been known to wear a Moomins watch on occasion.
Porvoo makes a nice solo, or family destination if looking for a day out of Helsinki and reliant on public transport.