Vaasa Tourist Attractions
Vaasa (Swedish Vasa), on the Gulf of Bothnia, is the chief town of Vaasa province and the seat of the Provincial Court of Appeal. About a third of the inhabitants are Swedish-speaking.
Vaasa was chartered in 1606 and is a popular centre for Finnish and Swedish culture. The town lies at the narrowest part of the Gulf of Bothnia, sheltered by a girdle of skerries, the archipelago of the Valsöarna and the islands of Vallgrund and Björkö. The shortest route between Finland and Sweden is the Vaasa-Umeå ferry.HistoryThe town, named after the Swedish royal house of Vasa, was founded in 1606 at Mustasaari, now 6km/4mi inland but then on the coast. Vaasa was twice destroyed by war (1714, 1800) and again by a great fire in 1852. Thereafter, from 1862 onwards, it was rebuilt on the new coastline, which had moved west as a result of a rise in the level of the land. The rebuilding was directed by the provincial architect, Carl Axel Setterberg; and, as at Pori, the new town was laid out with broad avenues (puistikko) to reduce the fire hazard. Setterberg favored the neo-Gothic style; other architects built in a variety of styles.In December 1917, after the proclamation of Finnish independence, Vaasa became the temporary capital of the country when the socialist militia seized control of Helsinki and the Senate took refuge in Vaasa. From here General Mannerheim directed operations against the Red Brigades and the Russian forces supporting them. Hence the cross of freedom which figures in the town's coat of arms, as it does in that of Mikkeli.
International Puppet Theater Festival
Vaasa International Puppet Theater Festival is in June.
Between the two wide avenues, Hovioikeudenpuistikko and Vaasanpuistikko, which run south-west from the railroad station through the center of Vaasa is the Market Square, with an imposing monument to Liberty (by Yrjö Liipola, 1938), commemorating the 1918 civil war and war of liberation.
Southwest of the Vaasa Market Square is the neo-Gothic Trinity Church (by C. A. Setterberg, 1868), which has altarpieces by A. Edelfelt, L. Sparre and R. W. Ekman. Opposite the church, to the north, is a bronze statue of the writer Zachris Topelius (19th C.).
At the west end of Vaasa's Hovioikeudenpuistikko (Appeal Court Avenue), in a square by the sea, is the Provincial Court of Appeal, a 19th century neo-Gothic brick building with corner turrets. To the south is a monument commemorating the landing here in February 1918 of a German rifle battalion of young Finns trained in Germany.
Ostrobothnia Provincial Museum
To the north of the Appeal Court in Vaasa lies the Mariepark, in which is the Österbotten Provincial Museum (Pohjanmaa-Museum), with collections illustrating the culture of the province and the history of the town, together with works of art of various periods, including 19th and 20th century Finnish painting.
Address: Museokatu 3, SF-65101 Vaasa, Finland
Opening hours: 10am-5pm; Sun: 12pm-5pm; Wed: 10am-8pm; Sat: 12pm-5pm
Entrance fee in EUR: Family €8.00, Adult €5.00, Students €2.00, Senior €2.00, Child 17 & under FREE
Useful tips: Free admission on Wednesdays.
Braga Open-Air Museum (Motor Museum)
Wasalandia Amusement Park and Zoo
The Vaasa street Vaasanpuistikko crosses a narrow channel on a causeway, which also carries the railroad, to the island of Vaskiluoto, on which is the Wasalandia amusement park (with Zoo). From the causeway a short side road gives access to the island of Hietasaari (Swedish Sandö; park, with swimming beaches).
Old Vaasa lies 6km/4mi southeast of the Vaasa town center, on the site occupied by the town before the 1852 fire. Here are the ruins of St Mary's Church, originally (14th C.) on a basilican plan but converted by successive alterations into a cruciform church. The old Appeal Court, in Gustavian style, built during the reign of Gustavus III, is now Mustasaari church (1786). The ruined 14th century church of Korsholm/Mustasaari is the setting of a musical festival which forms part of the Finland Festival. There is an interesting museum in the late 18th century house of the Wasastjerna family.
Stundars - Handicraft Village
From Vaasa on the south side of E 12, at Sulva, is the craftsmen's village of Stundars, with over 40 old buildings, several workshops and a summer theater.The village opened in 1965 and includes a farmhouse complex, a printing museum and workshops for artists.
The ring of skerries in the Gulf of Bothnia near Vaasa offers great variety of beauty and recreation. Boats can be hired for fishing trips, or visitors can accompany the local fishermen. There are large numbers of holiday cabins on the islands which can be rented through the tourist information office in Vaasa. In particularly cold winters it is possible to drive to Björköby and continue across the ice on the Gulf of Bothnia to Umeå on the Swedish side.
Just under 100km/62mi south of Vaasa, off Road 8, is the little town of Kristiinankaupunki (Swedish Kristinestad), whose 9,000 inhabitants are mainly Swedish-speaking. The town was founded by Per Brahe in 1649 and named after Queen Christina of Sweden, a daughter of Gustavus Adolphus. During the 18th and 19th centuries, as a busy port for the shipment of tar, Kristiinankaupunki prospered, but thereafter it declined. The town center still preserves the grid pattern of its original layout.Kristiinankaupunki was spared the devastating fires which afflicted so many towns, and there are large numbers of 18th and 19th century wooden houses in the old part of the town. A picturesque feature is the red-painted Old Church (1698-1700), which has a handsome organ, a Roccoco pulpit and a separate belfry (1703). Other notable buildings are the centrally situated Town Hall, in Empire style (1858).
Visitors who are not pressed for time should take the coast road from Vaasa to Kristiinankaupunki rather than the main road. Between Malax and Närpes there are many little fishing villages, and windmills add variety to the landscape. There is a particularly fine example at Harrström in the commune of Korsnäs.
Seinäjoki hosts two notable summer events - Tangomarkkinat, a tango festival and Provinssirock, a rock festival. There are a number of sites of interest in Seinäjoki such as the library and church designed by Alvar Aalto, the Lotta Svärd museum and the local theatres.
The Tango Festival sells more tickets than any other event in the Finland summer schedule.Since 1984, when the festival began, the roads of Seinäjoki turn into "Tango Streets," with tens of thousands of performers getting into the festive spirit for July 9 - 13.You can also enjoy symphony orchestras and learn dozens of newly invented tango-steps.
This rock festival takes place in June and is the event that begins the Finnish rock summer. The venue is Törnävänsaari, an island in Seinäjoki.The festival offers world-class jazz, played by musicians from Finland and around the world.Various free events are organized as well.
Church and Tower
This church tower is a central feature of the town of Seinäjoki. Seen from all sides, it appears to be a large cross. It is an award-winning structure built in 1958-60.
Map of Vaasa Attractions