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.
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 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.
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.
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).
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.
The maritime museum (Merimuseo) was founded in 1862 in the old Customs House from 1848; it displays the oldest scuba diving in the world.
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.
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
Other Finnish historic wooden towns are Kaskinen (Kaskö), Old Rauma, Porvoo (Borgå), Jakobstad and Vaasa.
See you, Raahe.