Tornio Tourist Attractions
The Finnish frontier town of Tornio (Swedish Torneå) lies on the Gulf of Bothnia, at the mouth of the Tornionjoki (Torneälv). It consists of three parts, the most westerly of which is on the former island of Suensaari, now joined to the mainland on the Swedish west bank of the river.The town first appears in the records in the 14th century, when Archbishop Hemming baptized Finns and Sami (Lapps) here. The church was constructed in 1686 and the spire is a notable landmark. Tornio received its municipal charter in 1621, and thanks to its strategic situation soon developed into a considerable trading town.
Tornio's wooden church (1684-88) is one of the best preserved 17th century wooden churches in Finland. Its high saddle roof is covered with shingles arranged in a pattern; the separate belfry has a steeple surrounded by five turrets. The interior is attractive, with a painted timber ceiling, a carved wooden pulpit and a brass chandelier. To the north of the church is a water tower with a viewing platform and a cafe.
Aine Art Museum
A modern building in Torikatu houses the Aine Museum of Art (19th and 20th century Finnish art). In Keskikatu is the Regional Museum (folk material from the Tornio valley and Lapland).
3km/2mi south of the center of Tornio we come to the district of Alatornio, which was incorporated in Tornio in 1973. It has a fine church (by Jacob Rijf, 1794-97) in Swedish neo- classical style.
Tornio Jazz Blues
The Tornio Jazz Blues festival is in June.The four-day festival has venues on both sides of the Finland-Sweden border and thus include musicians from both countries, along-side internationally acclaimed musicians.
Tornio (Haaparanta - Midnight Sun Accordion Festival)
This festival follows the Tornio Jazz Festival in early July. The festival is held on either side of the border between Finland and Russia and includes a number of musical concerts featuring acclaimed musicians from throughout Europe.
Kilpisjärvi-Tornio Arctic Canoe Race
Kilpisjärvi-Tornio Arctic Canoe Race (535km).
Nordic Harmonica Festival
Tornio Nordic Harmonica Festival is in July.
9km/5.5mi south of Tornio is the island of Röyttä, Tornio's port for ocean-going vessels. Boat trips to the skerries.
Tornio Valley (Kukkolankoski)
An attractive excursion from Tornio is a drive up the Tornio valley to the north. 17km/11mi from Tornio a side road goes off to the Kukkolankoski rapids, which have a fall of 13.8m/45ft over a distance of 3.5km/2.5mi. There is a restaurant with good fish dishes. On the last Sunday in July a Whitefish Festival takes place at the rapids, with rafting races.
26km/16mi beyond the turning for Kukkolankoski on the road from Tornio, another side road branches off to the rapids of Matkakoski.At Karunki, half way between the two rapids, can be seen a handsome old wooden church (1817).
Beyond Matkakaski is Ylitornio, with a modern stone church, beside which is an old wooden belfry. 10km/6mi north of the church we reach a road junction where Road 930 goes off on the right to Rovaniemi. A short distance along this road is a narrow side road leading to a parking lot on the slopes of Aavasaksa (242m/794ft), round which flows the Tengeliönjoki. From there a path (350m/380yd) leads to the top of the hill, from which the midnight sun can be seen on Midsummer Day, although the hill is actually south of the Arctic Circle. Accommodation in this area is available in both summer and winter in comfortable holiday cabins. There is a ski-lift (605m/660yd long; height difference 114m/374ft).
Haparanda (Finnish Haaparanta) is Tornio's Swedish neighbor and counterpart, on the west bank of the Torneälv (Tornionjoki). The town was founded in 1809, after Tornio, together with the rest of Finland, had passed to Russia. The boundary wall in the sports ground to the north of the town is a relic of these earlier frontier confrontations: the present frontier between Sweden and Finland is now regarded by both sides as the most peaceful frontier in the world. Haparanda is Sweden's most easterly town.During the First World War Russia and the Central Powers exchanged prisoners of war unfit for further service through Haparanda. In the churchyard of Nedertorneå, on the west side of the town, are the graves of Austrian, German and Turkish prisoners who died on the journey.During WW II, Haparanda was the arrival point for more than 80,000 Finnish children who had been evacuated. There is a memorial in Haparanda dedicated to the Finnish children. The railway station is no longer used for passenger trains.In 2006, IKEA opened a store in Haparanda - its is the northernmost IKEA store in the world. The store has signs in both in both Swedish and Finnish.
Kalott - Jazz & Blues Festival
This summer festival crosses the border between Haparanda in Sweden and Torneä in Finland, although the towns are walking distance apart.The events take place both indoors and outdoors and include musicians from around the world.