Vartiovuorenpuisto – Vartiovuori Park

Vartiovuorenpuisto is one of the oldest and, considering the landscape and cultural history, also one of the most valuable urban parks in the country. In the beginning of the 1800s Vartiovuori was only barren rocks, just like all other hills in Turku. During the centuries the rocks had been quarried for stone for the construction of the city and the trees growing on the hill had been chopped for firewood. After the 1822 city fire in Turku people started talking about making the barren hills greener, and the new city plan drawn by Carl Ludvig Engel emphasized the importance of trees for fire safety. Vartiovuori was the first hill that got plantings on its slopes.

The first plantings were made during the 1840s-50s. The work was directed by the middle class citizens of Turku based on the tenders approved by the city administrative court. Construction was slow because soil was transported to the rocky terrain by horse carriages and to the steeper slopes on foot. By 1854 tree and flower groups had been planted, stone stairs had been built, benches had been placed, and vantage points towards the city had been created on Vartiovuori.

A more extensive plan was made for the park in 1873, but it materialized only partly. Only one of the buildings in the plan was realized: the summer restaurant “Tutis”, which was built on the upper hillside in 1877 and demolished in 1964. The founding of Vartiovuorenpuisto was finished in the latter half of 1890s after which the park has been extended many times into its surrounding area. Some path lines have also been changed.

Swedish-speaking secondary school graduates celebrated the First of May in Vartiovuorenmäki for the first time in 1919. At some point the First of May was celebrated in Kupittaa, but since 1925 the graduates have celebrated their First of May picnic in Vartiovuorenmäki every year. The summer theatre activities of Turun Työväenteatterin Kannatusyhdistys moved to Vartiovuori next to Luostarinmäki in summer 1954 when an auditorium for Turku Summer Theatre was constructed. The auditorium was renewed in 2000.

Nowadays Vartiovuorenpuisto is a popular place in summer to have a picnic, do outdoor exercise, or play games. Every day and around the year the park serves the local residents as a quiet passage, a fitness trail, and a children’s playground.

Surface area: 71,647 m2

Maintenance classification: A2, A3, B2, C1, EH

Trees: Over 70 arboreal species grow in Vartiovuorenpuisto. Some of the rarest species are Dutch elm (Ulmus x hollandica), balm of Gilead (Populus balsamifera cv. Gileadensis), Russian spiraea (Spiraea media), and Chinese lilac (Syringa x chinensis). Most of the trees are deciduous and the most common species are Norway maple (Acer platanoides) and common lime trees (Tilia x vulgaris). Deciduous trees border the paths and conifers grow in small groups in the middle part of the park, for example Norway spruce (Picea abies) and blue spruce (Picea pungens). The oldest trees of the park are well over 100 years old and no new trees have been planted in the park in a long time.

Location on a map

Did you know that...

  •  ...Signs that mark the prehistoric sea levels have been put up along the paths that run from Vartiokuja and Teinikuja towards the observatory. ...Vartiovuori was one of the first islands that emerged from the sea in the current Turku region.
  •  ...Vartiovuorenpuisto is a nationally significant constructed environment.
  •  ...Before the Great Fire in Turku in 1827 and before Vartiovuori was made into a park, people of all ages could spin around in the merry-go-rounds of the Surutoin amusement park which was located on the southern slope of the hill, or enjoy the greenery of the former Gadolin garden.