Sunday, 25 January 2015

Raahe, an heritage town by the Gulf of Bothnia in northern Finland

A Thule town in Finland ? Kajaani and Joensuu are also candidates, but they are not located on the seaside. This is a wonderful near-arctic town from the 17th century, with a special nordic feeling and... some History.

Raahe is a town and municipality on the west coast of Finland. Founded in 1649, it is one of 10 historic wooden towns remaining in Finland. After a difficult start, first suffering famine and then burned by russian troops, only by the end of the 18th century did Raahe begin prospering and thriving.

Raahe is located on the northern shores of Baltic Sea's deep Gulf of Bothnia, in Oulu province, just some 180 km south of the Arctic Circle.

Raahe is a seaside town better known for its old wooden town centre, parks and squares. Called 'Town of Sea Winds', Raahe offers plenty to any visitor - besides the heritage buildings, there are museums, galleries, churches...

Coordinates: 64° 41′ N, 24° 28′ E
                  (south of arctic circle - 65º N)
Population : ~26 000

Old Raahe (Vanha Raahe) features an unusual central square called Pekkatori (Pekka square), with closed corners, ispired in italian Renaissance grid-plan towns.

The corners are quarter-circle gardens.

Pekka square is the heart of Old Raahe; the neo-classical 1888 design was built over the previous Market Square. Streets run from the middle of each side, with an iconic house at each corner.

Old Raahe is noted for its Renaissance-inspired rectilinear town plan. The main historic streets run around Pekkatori and by the seafront.

Raahen Teatteri, Koulukatu 13

The Theater of Raahe is housed in a pretty 1913 building.

Koulukatu (School Street): the theater (right) and the primary school (bottom).

Alma, a small houseware shop just beside the Old Pharmacy.

Hairdresser, then the music school, in Brahenkatu

Art Nouveau, present in several buildings, as the Yard House, Brahenkatu 1

Kirkokkatu (Church Street) - a flower shop.

The Old Pharmacy (Wanha Apteekki) on the left side of Kauppakatu (Shop Street), from 1793.

The Old Pharmacy door.

Old Pharmacy museum containis one of Finland's most valuable collections of apothecary jars, as well as equipment used in the preparation of medicines, old wrappings and packages.

Kauppakatu, 36 : art nouveau by 64º N

In Brahenkatu, probably the most beautiful window in Raahe.

One of many examples of nordic "art nouveau".

Raahe's townhall

The old Railway Station is another fine example of wooden architecture, is now an art gallery:

A valuable Art Nouveau building from the early 1900s, the Rautatieasema was in decay; recently sold to a private owner, it is being restored as a Gallery plus craft shop and Café.

Galleria Asemamestari

The Church of Raahe

One of Raahe's two churches designed by architect Josef Stenbäck ; this was completed in 1912.

Art Nouveau style prevailed in Europe between 1890 and circa 1910. It uses motives from Nature, mainly plants, and materials like cast iron, glass and painted plaster, in rhythmically undulating and asymmetric patterns. Late 'art nouveau' was in use in more remote zones - throughout Russia, Norway (Älesund) or New Zealand (Dunedin).

The altar piece 'Awakening Hope' was painted by Eero Järnefelt in 1926.

The main chandelier

Pillar decoration detail.

Rantakatu, the seaside promenade

Raahe was born as a port city. In the late 1850s and on, shipping companies in Raahe owned Finland's largest fleet of sailing vessels. Currently, the port of Raahe is still a busy port, with 700 ships visiting each year.

Rantakatu (Beach Street) is the seaside promenade street, with museums and cafés.

Huvimylly, a movie theater. They named it 'Huvimylly' - Pleasure mill - because of the happy and long-awaited events taking place there.

Rantakatu 7

Rantakatu by late evening.

Raahen Merimuseo

The maritime museum (Merimuseo) was founded in 1862 in the old Customs House from 1848; it displays the oldest scuba diving in the world.

Rantakatu 33

The Raahen Merimuseo is the oldest museum of cultural history in Finland. The museum's pride is 'the Old Gentleman', the oldest diving suit in world, made of leather and dating back to the 18th century.

Café Ruiskuhuone, a pleasant waterside café in the Museum area.
Sovelius House

Presently, it's Raahe's oldest house, from the 18th century.

Sovelius House is a typical 1780's wealthy shipowner and merchant house, and now acts as a museum. The ground floor is in the Art Nouveau style, with rooms for changing exhibitions.

Upstairs, the restored 1890's living room is a veritable oasis of flourishing plants, furniture, exquisite upholstery as well as magnificent carpets, tablecloths and curtains.

Raahe under snow

In a sunny winter or spring day, Raahe shines in all its beauty.

Rantakatu, by the museum

Café Ruiskuhuone

Galleria Asemamestari (Station).

The campus behind the school.


The Church tower, Pekkatori square, Per Brahe statue - finnish heritage in the far North of Europe.

Per Brahe statue.

Other Finnish historic wooden towns are Kaskinen (Kaskö), Old Rauma, Porvoo (Borgå), Jakobstad and Vaasa.

See you, Raahe.