Set on the coast on the southwest of Finland, the town of Turku dates from the thirteenth century. Until it was ousted by Helsinki in 1812, it was the capital, and now, two centuries later, it's back in the limelight as European Capital of Culture. The celebrations kicked off last weekend, and over the months ahead, a full programme of more than a hundred functions and events is scheduled. With the icy waters of the river Aura as a backdrop, Turku is set to become a veritable theme park of culture. There will be just about every kind of live performance you can think of: circuses, underwater concerts, aerial acrobatic displays, exhibitions, contemporary opera, theatre... and other activities, too, gastronomic events, sports and multicultural encounters. But even without the special cultural programme the university city would be well worth visiting: it boasts some architectural gems, including the cathedral, which vies with the castle to be Turku's most impressive monument. Then there are the wooden houses of Luostarinmaki, the busy shops and bustling cafes, the Kauppatori market... Why not make this the year you visit Finland, and spend a few days in Turku?
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