Kupittanpuisto – Kupittaa Park
Kupittaanpuisto is the largest urban park in Finland, and it has capacity for many kinds of activities for the whole family. In addition to the large green areas in Kupittaanpuisto, there are also a bird park, a traffic park for children, the Adventure Park, a pavilion restaurant, an outdoor swimming arena, and a sports hall.
Kupittaanpuisto is also the oldest park in Finland, as it dates back to the 1820s when it was a park meant for spa guests. According to folklore, Henry, Bishop of Finland, baptized the first pagan Finns into Christianity in the Kupittaa spring during the First Crusade in 1155. In the beginning of the 1680s the spring started to be used as a healing spring. First leprosy and then cholera patients were treated in the vicinity of the spring. Kupittaa got its first spa restaurant in the 18th century.
During the first half of the 19th century, the park consisted of what is now the northeastern section of the park: the spa area with the small park surrounding it, the gardening school area, and the area known as Kupittaa Square. The Kupittaa gardening school started in 1841 and the students were responsible for the care of the surrounding park. The school was located in the current Adventure Park area and some of the old buildings are still in use. Kupittaa Square was located in the corner of Uudenmaankatu and Itäinen Pitkäkatu. One could get to the actual park through the square. The square was remodelled in the 1880s when the poplar trees that still grow in their places were planted.
The park’s extension work was undertaken in the 1890s, during which a sports field and a playground for small children was built and trees and bushes were planted in the park. After the gardening school ceased operations temporarily in 1898 the maintenance of the area became the sole responsibility of the city. At that time the sapling area of the gardening school, the area between the gardening school and Uudenmaantie, as well as a rental field known as “Russian field” were added to the park. City Gardener Hammarberg drew a plan for this extension in 1898, into which he marked a condition that only the best domestic saplings should be used. He specifically justified the use of conifers by stating that the park should be beautiful also in winter. While the eastern side of the birch avenue was being expanded, a playing field, bird ponds, and the outdoor swimming arena which was finished in 1910 were built in Kupittaanpuisto.
Surface area: 24 hectares
Maintenance classification: A2 Recreational green area
In addition to the fact that Kupittaanpuisto is the oldest park in Turku and in Finland, the parks located between Turku Cathedral and the Old Great Square are the best known and most valuable historical central parks in Turku. The oldest plantings in the parks are from as far back as the 1830s.