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Turku History, Finland

The history of the Turku city is one that is definitely worth knowing because it will really help you understand exactly how things work in the city.  Its history starts at around the 13th century with the founding of the city with the Cathedral of Turku being finalized around the year 1300.  This cathedral is the one of the oldest buildings in Turku and that is why its date is important.  When this cathedral was built, it was the straw that broke the back of the proverbial camel in terms of Finnish politics at the time and people flocked to the city of Turku.  It was soon after that Turku was declared the administrative centre of the country and of course, with the migration of people to that it became the largest city, a title it held for a very long time.

During the medieval ages, the city of Turku was also home to the Bishop of Turku, a person that was responsible for the religious administration of the whole region that includes most of modern day Finland.  This, combined with the large population and the fact that the country was administered from Turku, gave the city enormous influence.  Adding to this influence was the fact that most of the nobles in Finland at the time had their primary residences in the city and therefore one had to travel to Turku if one wanted to see the nobles of Finland interacting with each other in a capacity that was outside the official.  Despite all of this, the city of Turku was actually not the capital in technical terms, as Finland during that period of time was known as Eastern Sweden.

It was in this particular milieu during the 1800s that the Finnish War began between Russia and Sweden, eventually resulting in Russian victory and the ceding of all Finnish lands to Russia by Sweden.  At this point in time Turku was the de facto capital, but the Russians felt that Turku was too close to Sweden and therefore stripped Turku of the title, giving it to Helsinki instead.  This is of course how the situation is today as well and it marks the end of the dominance of the city of Turku in the history of Finland.

The 20th century history of Turku involves massive growth and massive industrialization and during that period of time, it always played a role within Western Europe as a way to combat perceived influence that the Soviet Union had over the city of Helsinki.

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