"Maria's Ekenäs (Fi. Tammisaari)" Tammisaari by maria_hz
Tammisaari Travel Guide: 32 reviews and 97 photos
Looking at Ekenäs today, you would hardly imagine that King Gustavus Wasa had designs on this place to become a rival port of Reval (today's Tallinn in Estonia) to cover the trade in the Gulf of Finland.
Ekenäs in Swedish means Oak Peninsula, whereas the Finnish name Tammisaari means Oak Island. Both probably are correct. Because of the land elevation, a few thousand years ago, this area was sea floor, slowly raising to become islands, then later a peninsula. In fact, to this day it is located on a peninsula, as it is surrounded by water on three sides. The land elevation phenomenon is visible when comparing old maps of the town.
The settlement was granted township rights in 1546 and people were moved from Ulvila (Sw. Ulfsby) outside Pori to populate the new port. It never really took off, however. Maybe this was in part due to the sheltered harbour that may after all have been too sheltered by the many islands just off the mainland. The King was not to be defeated and instead went ahead and founded Helsinki four years later, in 1550. People from Tammisaari were then again forced to move to the new town.
The town continued its existence as a town appointed by the King, and as such became an important local trading town (with the right to have markets, not every town had that in those days). Slowly, slowly it grew to contain a community of craftsmen, a church and schools. This can still be seen in the town today, if you walk around the old town and know a bit of Swedish and Finnish, the signs (literally) are all around to be seen. There is Shoemaker's street, linen weaver's street, hat maker's street, painter's street, and so on. The small streets of the old town look pretty much like they have for the past 200 years or so, and is best enjoyed on foot.
In addition to craftsmanship, fishing and agriculture were important too. The fishers sold their catch at the Fish market square (by the Southern harbour (Södra hamnen/Eteläsatama) in the old town), whereas the farmers sold their produce at the market square. At the big market still held every year late September cattle was sold too, and farm hands changed employment.
These days, Ekenäs profiles itself as a regional centre, with a number of educational facilities at all levels (elementary school, secondary education and tertiary education). There are few big industries here now, as many moved production to cheaper countries in the 1980s and 1990s. Local business is mostly smaller scale service providers, primary and secdonary production only account for about a third.
The Finnish Army has a garrison here, where most Swedish-speaking young men will spend their time as conscripted soldiers. So if you walk around and see young men about in army fatigues then you know they are not some local guerrilla faction or that the military patrols the streets to keep people on the straight and narrow. It is more likely they are out to enjoy their night off. The Finnish army is an important employer together with the two hospitals Ekenäs hosts.
Ekenäs has been known to attract retired people from the capital area, wanting to spend their autumn years in a small town. However, these days Ekenäs is attracting families with small children because of the good location (almost equally close to Helsinki and Turku, only one hour away by car), the good educational facilities and the relative safety of a small town.
Tammisaari/Ekenäs has a lot to offer visitors. The main attractions are without doubt the well preserved old town with wooden houses from the 18th and 19th centuries (and some newer ones, but they are impossible to spot!), the nearby fortress of Raseborg and the restaurant on water, Knipan. The Hagen-Ramsholmen-Högholmen recreational park area is a favourite for visitors and locals alike when they feel like getting out and about.
The best times to visit are the Summer season and around Christmas. In the summer you can enjoy the archipelago, the beaches and the nature. Before Christmas there are Christmas markets and the start of the festive season is marked by a Christmas parade at the end of November.
Nonetheless, Spring and Autumn also have their attractions. Spring on Ramsholmen island means wood anemones cover the hills with their white blossom (see top pic) and this is a very typical symbol of Ekenäs. Autumn means the advent of autumn colours and the big Autumn fair complete with fun fair. The Autumn fair attracts people from near and far to look for bargains and local and less local delicacies. The kids especially love the fun fair.
Now notice that I will refer to the town as Ekenäs in Swedish, as that is the majority language there.
- Pros:Small, picturesque, clean and safe
- Cons:Small ;)
- In a nutshell:Picturesque town by the sea
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