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Porvoo, Finland

The Old Town of Porvoo is unique. The mosaic-like town plan with its maze of streets and irregulary shaped plots dates back to the Middle Ages. Since then the town suffered many fires, but always the stubborn citizens rebuilt their houses on the same foundations.

Red riverside warehouses welcome the traveller to Old Porvoo, as they have done for the past 300 years. Red ochre paint was used to paint the warehouses in the late 18th century in honour of King Gustav III's arrival. All of the houses along his route were painted, in order to make them look more beautiful. The red ochre also helped protect the logs from wind and sun damage.The warehouses were originally used to store trade goods and they remain an eminent Porvoo symbol that is recognised from school books. People want to see the view over and over again and capture it in photos.

Nowadays, the warehouses host some restaurants and shops, but most of them are in private use. Behind the warehouses, a network of pebbled streets stretches out, lined by colourful old buildings hosting small boutiques, cafés and restaurants and interesting museums. The Old Porvoo district currently covers an area of 18 hectares, the neighbourhood has approximately 550 buildings, of which 250 are residential buildings, and around 700 people call Old Porvoo their home.

On top of the hill, in the heart of Old Porvoo, you can see the Porvoo Cathedral. Its eventful history dates back to the turn of the 14th century. One of the most important events was the Diet of Porvoo, during which the Cathedral served as one of the central venues, in 1809, that launched the period of Finnish autonomy. Over the centuries, this beautiful church has burnt down five times.

Nowadays, Old Porvoo in its present form attracts visitors from all over the world, and it is no wonder – it is truly unique. Even though the neighbourhood lives very much in the present, there are many things that stay the same, most importantly, the atmosphere!

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