A lost city

In September 1827, Turku was hit by an enormous disaster. The centre of Finland's oldest city was almost completely destroyed in a massive fire. The heart of the medieval city was lost in just one night, and most of what remained of old Turku was lost under reconstruction. That and other lost landscapes fascinate today's Finns; what was our Turku like and how might it have been like?

Being a Capital of Culture in 2011 ignited a spark

The Fire! exhibition was organised by the Museum Centre of Turku and the Finnish science centre Heureka. The main attraction of the highly popular exhibition in the newly opened venue Logomo was a miniature theatre of the Great Fire, where a largescale model, animation, sounds, smoke and lights were used to create a story of the Turku fire in 1827, its beginning, progress and aftermath.

The Turku fire miniature theatre from the year as a Capital of Culture in 2011, research data related to the exhibition and the desire to explore the different layers of our city's history using new technologies came together within the framework of the Museum of History and the Future project. We had the idea to make a 3D model of early 19th century Turku in a way that the model could be utilised in different applications and to make it available for partners to use and develop. The 3D digital model is like play dough that skilled hands can mould into many things.

Turku goes 1812 -pop up event attracted thousands of visitors to an immersive, shared experience in virtual reality.

First to be modelled were the area currently called the Old Great Square and the bridge that once crossed the river. Based on the modelling of the Old Great Square, a very popular virtual experience pop-up called Turku goes 1812 was born, accessible to the public in March 2019. 

Experience Turku before the fire in 1827 in the Digital Museum service

Encouraged by the experiment, the decision was made to continue 3D modelling and extend the modelling to a larger part of the city destroyed in the 1820’s. The focus is now on the time before the Great Fire: What did Turku look like in the spring of 1827? You will be able to see at least panoramic views of the city and videos about the lost city.

Digital image of Turku before the Great Fire in 1827.