The Royal Road in Finland – In the footsteps of great kings
For many people, the Königsstraße presents a special highlight in Finland. Today, the connection looks back on a long history that could hardly be more exciting, but at the same time more significant.
Those who choose to travel along the Royal Road, choose a path marked by the footsteps of royal messengers and Novgorod merchants. But farmers, bishops and mendicant monks also once used the Royal Road to pass through Finland. Progress once entered Finland via the well-known east-west axis, which still receives a great deal of attention today. Already more than 1000 years ago, the most important north European east-west axis led from Oslo to St. Petersburg in Russia. It was considered the most important connection between Stockholm and Turku. Today it is one of the most beautiful ways to discover the southern Finnish coastal landscape with all its beauty.
Despite its age, the Royal Road has not lost its importance in Finland to this day. During the Middle Ages it was one of the most important land routes of the northern European country. At that time, people traditionally traveled on foot or on horseback. More than 20 inns offered themselves as resting places in the Middle Ages. Great importance was given to the Royal Road with the introduction of the postal system. It quickly developed into one of the most important postal routes. Along the King’s Road, one repeatedly encounters places and sites of cultural and historical significance, which today are grouped under the name of Kuninkaantie. Thus, the Royal Road is rightly one of the most famous connections in the country. It is rich in sights and offers the opportunity to discover probably the most beautiful places in the country.
From Turku to Ekenäs
Turku in Finland is an ideal starting point for the journey along the Royal Road. Already in the city offer the first famous sights of the country. Leaving from it towards the east, you will reach the town of Salo via Piikio. In Piikio, Pukkila Manor presents one of the most beautiful destinations in the region. Numerous architectural features still recall the beginnings of its time and bring history to life. A mixture between modernity and history is also shown to visitors in Salo. In the past, the city was no more than a well-known trading center. Away from the Uskela district, in Salo you will come across a stone church once built by Carl Ludwig Engel. The church hill offers its visitors a breathtaking view of the town and the surrounding countryside.
The surroundings of Salo are characterized by numerous manor houses that were built in the past centuries. They are still evidence of the former economic prosperity that characterized this region of Finland. After Salo, the road leads along the royal road to Perniö. In the 17th century, several ironworks were built in the village. Today Perniö is known because of the recreational facility Meri-Teijo, which offers visitors numerous opportunities for sports activities.
Guest at Fiskars
Already during the past, Fiskars was an important destination of the King’s Road. One of Finland’s most important industrial plants was located on the Fiskars River in the Pohja town area. Although today there is little to remind us of the site, the street layout shows its former origins. Both the residential buildings and the iron factories from the 17th century have fallen victim to the ravages of time in the past.
The company of the same name, Fiskars, has chosen a different location. Worth seeing, however, is the former factory site, which has been restored with attention to detail. Today it documents 400 years of industrial history. Worthwhile is especially a detour to the former workers’ houses, where artists and craftsmen live today. Every day they offer their pieces for sale to visitors and show how traditional and beautiful Finnish handicrafts are. The grounds include a lovingly landscaped park, which invites you to linger.
A feast for the eyes is the Mustio mansion, which can be discovered when walking along the Royal Road. It is the stately architecture that makes the structure a highlight of the trip. In 1792 the manor house was built according to Swedish models. Today Mustio is the largest wooden castle still existing in Finland. Despite its age, it presents itself in the splendor of the Gustavian era. In a surprisingly good condition are the interiors of the mansion, which are characterized by wall paintings, tiled stoves and various parquet floors. The castle park is in baroque style and invites for a long walk. During a walk you will always come across sculptures. Mustio’s restaurant provides culinary moments of pleasure.
On the way to a special gem
Along the Royal Road there is always an opportunity to get acquainted with the traits of Finnish history through detours. Thus, the way to Lohja also proves to be worthwhile. Already in the 16th century the first ore mine in Finland was established in Lohja. For decades, it served as a workplace in the region. Away from the ore mine, the Sibelius House presents itself. It is one of the most beautiful destinations in Lohja. Even though the house was never owned by Jean Sibelius, it occupies an important period in his life.
The present Sibelius House was once owned by his grandmother and aunt. The composer spent several summers in the house and wrote his pieces during that time. A special treasure in Lohja is the St. Laurentius Church. It is one of the most beautiful medieval stone churches in Finland. The origins of the interior can be traced back to the 15th century. In the interior, one comes across numerous impressive wall paintings with which the church was decorated in the 16th century. The majority of the murals are in excellent condition.
Visitors to the Royal Road can also follow in the footsteps of famous personalities in Sammatti. The small community is home to Kate Paikkarin torppa, the birthplace of Elias Lönnrot. He spent many years of his youth in the house. Sammatti is also home to Lönnrot’s retirement home and death house, known as Lammin talo.
The Royal Road east of Helsinki
East of Helsinki, the King’s Road leads to numerous other attractions in the country. Yet it is often the smaller towns that are among the most rewarding destinations. Pernaja is located only 30 km from Porvoo. Pernaja is known as the birthplace of the Finnish reformer Mikael Agricola. One of the most beautiful sights of the village is the medieval St. Michael’s Church, whose origins can be found in the 14th century. The three-nave granite church is home to beautiful brick ornaments. Among the highlights of the church is the altar, which was made in Lübeck in the 16th century. In front of the church a statue is dedicated to the Finnish reformer.
Only five kilometers away from Pernaja, the Sarvilathi Manor reveals another destination of the Royal Road. The manor dates back to the 17. and 18th century. The property includes a beautiful park, which can be discovered during a short walk. A small town with a lot of charm presents itself with Loviisa. Today, about 8000 people live in the small town, which is still mostly Swedish-speaking.
In 1745 Loviisa was founded under the name of Degerby. In history, she enjoyed a special attention. Thus, it was one of the three Finnish cities granted the right to trade with foreign countries. Even today, the red-painted storage sheds located at the port are a reminder of that time. Loviisa was once known for storing tobacco, spices and numerous other imports. Today, it is mainly the small cafes that give the town a tranquil character. One of the most beautiful sights is the Maritime Museum. The oldest quarter of the city is located just behind the port. In the neighborhood you can still find some residential houses that date back to the 18th century.
The streets of Loviisa are lined with numerous colorful wooden houses, reminiscent of the pearls on a necklace. They provide an excellent insight into Finnish small-town life in past centuries. Among the most important buildings is the church from 1865, which is located at the highest point of the town. The town hall is a little older than the church and was built already in 1856. During the summer, the guest harbor offers the possibility of crossing to the sea fortress Svartholm with one of the numerous ships. The fortress is located on the island of the same name and allows you to jump into the past centuries.
If you pass the towns of Kotka and Hamina during your journey along the Royal Road, you can continue your way across the Russian border and reach St. Petersburg as your final destination.
The most beautiful places to stay along the King’s Road
Today, the Royal Road is one of the most famous destinations for tourists in Finland. Even though there are always places to stay in the villages, the manor house in Mustio is one of the most unusual domiciles. It is the stately ambience that makes the stay a pleasure for the senses. The rooms of the manor house are particularly stylishly furnished.
But not only in the manor house, but also in the old orangery and the tower offer guests of Mustio accommodation. Besides, the comfortably furnished wooden houses can be used for a stay. The restaurant of the manor house is award-winning and knows how to spoil its guests with culinary delights.
A little cheaper, but in any case comfortable is the Degerby Gille in Loviisa. The most famous hotel of the small town was located in the oldest house. In addition to nostalgic premises, it offers a nationally known restaurant where guests can feast to their heart’s content. Even if the menu is not original, the cuisine of the house can convince.