Today we will look at another of Turku’s landmarks: Turku’s Kauppatori (a.k.a. the place where you change buses). Literally ”marketplace” in Finnish, Turun Kauppatori is perhaps one of the most familiar places for people in Turku. Its cobbled pavement, food stands, and Hesburger are some of the things that don’t change. You might be surprised to learn, however, that Turun Kauppatori hasn’t always looked like it does right now.
In fact, Turku’s Kauppatori might be one of the city’s areas which has the most changed since the beginning of the twentieth century. In the years following the second world war, a number of buildings were removed to make place for new, more modern ones.
But let’s go back even further. The current location of the marketplace was determined by the architect C.L. Engel, who designed the new 120 by 120m square, which was named Alexander Square. The architect also designed a number of new buildings to be erected around the market place, of which the Swedish Theater is the last survivor (though not all the planned buildings were actually built).
The Orthodox Church was built in 1838 for the Russian soldiers stationed in Turku. It also had a bell tower, which collapsed at some point (I’m not sure exactly when, but somewhere in the mid-twentieth century).
Although this is about the marketplace itself, it would be unfair not to mention some of the interesting constructions that surround(ed) it now or in the past.
Apart from the church, the imposing hotel Pheonix and the Lindblom house are perhaps the two most important casualties. Since a blog post is coming on Hotel Pheonix, I wont spend too much time on it. But what I can say for now is that it has a very interesting history. In its place now sits a commercial building, overlooking the Kauppatori.
The other noteworthy building is the Lindblom House. Located where Sokos Wiklund currently sits, the Lindblom House was an important residential building, overlooking the Turun Kauppatori.
Built in 1891, the Lindblom House was a prominent feature of the Turun Kauppatori until 1956. As early as 1931, there were plans to build a mall next to it, and incorporate the House in the new building. However, the great depression meant that the new development was never realized, and the Lindblom House was left in disrepair. In 1948, it’s condition was increasingly bad, and it’s facade was cleared of some of its ornamentation for safety reasons.
In 1956, it was destroyed to make place to the new Sokos Wiklund building.
Present and future
This is how the current state of the Turku market place came to be. There is currently a project to excavate it in order to create a new underground parking. This will create between 700 and 800 new parking spots. The project isn’t unanimously popular, however, and many citizens have contested the necessity of creating such a parking.
If the past can serve as an example, one could argue that more efforts should be spent on preserving the marketplace instead of trying to ”update” it. The creation of more parking spaces could also be seen as in opposition to efforts to decrease traffic circulation in the center. But anyways, let’s see how things develop.