Turun Kauppahalli, literaly ”Turku’s market hall” in Finnish, is a very picturesque building. You might know it for its fresh meat stalls, cafés, souvenir shop, or simply for its unique atmosphere. Today, I’ll review some of the building’s history and background.
Due to Finland’s harsh winters, open markets are not suitable all year long. As a result, there has usually been a covered market for the dark months.
In 1896, the insufficient hygiene in the previous covered market areas prompted the construction of the current market hall. The planning and designing of the new building was given to Gustaf Nyström, a prominent Finnish architect. Gustaf Nyström had also worked a few years earlier on Helsinki’s market hall, built in 1889.
The Kauppahalli was originally divided in 151 stalls, about one third of which were occupied by fresh meat merchants. A very lively market, the Kauppahalli also had a number of fresh fish stalls, some even featuring live fish in tanks, thanks to the introduction of running water in 1905.
Electricity only came in 1932, however, the lighting had been provided until then by gas lamps. Modernisation of the stalls was slow, and it was only in 1957 that the first refrigerated counter was installed. Storage space had also become a problem by that time, and the building suffered from disrepair.
As a result, the planning and construction of the new Kop Kolmio building in the early 1960s, located just next to the market hall, was originally intended to extend over the plot occupied by the Kauppahalli. Thankfully for us, this plan didn’t materialize and the market hall was left intact.
Many historical buildings were destroyed in Turku during this period, partly due to collusion between promoters and the city council. This was later called the ”Turku disease”, of which we can say the market hall is a survivor.
Having secured survival, the covered market still needed extensive repair in order to have a future. The renovation was done in 1976, and though the facade was left intact, several changes took place on the inside. Primarily, the stalls were modernized, and some of them were fused together to make more place for some of the small businesses. The number of stalls was also cut in half to optimize the new space.
In addition to the changes on the inside, a storage building was added next to the Kauppahalli.
Today, Turku’s covered market is both a spot popular with tourists and a very nice place to shop. With its high ceiling, bustling shops, and historic charm, it is hard not to spend time exploring the alleys of the market.
It is also perhaps the best place in Turku to shop for fresh meat or fish, due to the variety in choice and friendliness of the people. It is also an excellent place to have some coffee in the unique train café, a warm lunch in one of the restaurants , or even buy some souvenirs from Turku.
Turun Kauppahalli is perhaps the best location in Turku for reindeer meat, since there is a stall specifically selling it.
The 122 years old building is open during the week from 8.00 to 18.00, Saturday from 8.00 to 16.00, but it is closed on Sundays.
If you want to have a look at the shops, or simply find some more information, you can visit http://www.kauppahalli.fi/en or find the Kauppahalli’s facebook page.