Port and trade.
Location and site
In the southwest of Finland, on the Gulf of Bothnia, the town of Rauma was constructed at the back of a harbour bay between two promontories. Nearby are two navigable rivers and a second port with excellent mooring conditions.
The layout of narrow streets, which has maintained its medieval structure, dates mostly to the 17th century. A long main artery, the extension of an old road from the country’s interior, leads to the port. The market square, originally a widened section of this road in accordance with medieval tradition, has since been extended. Other early squares can still be found within the landscape. The regularity of the design recalls the urban planning efforts of the 17th century.
In addition to a few monuments, such as the Church of the Sacred Cross (1449-1538) and the town hall (1776), houses, boutiques and workshops define Rauma’s rich architectural landscape. With the exception of the church, these buildings postdate the 1682 fire. Built on bases of stone with wood as the main construction material, they are constructed according to Nordic tradition. There are a large number of facades of the Neo-Renaissance style; these possess narrow panels, clapboards and rich motifs around the windows.
Rauma is an exceptional example of an early northern city constructed of wood, and a genuine conservatory of a traditional settlement in this part of Europe. (V) This town is, as a result, typical of the architecture and urban design of the early Nordic towns and it is one of the most beautiful and one of the largest such towns that exists today. (VI)
- Rauma, a small trading centre which developed around a Franciscan monastery, attained the status of a town in 1442. Like a few other towns in Swedish Finland that dated to the same period, Rauma possessed an administrative organisation.
- The development of Rauma was threatened by a series of fires and a royal edict in 1550. Its citizens, like those of the towns of Ulvila, Porvoo and Tammisaari, were forced to leave in order to populate Helsinki, the new foundation of the King of Sweden, Gustavus Vasa; it wasn’t until 1557 that they were authorised to return.
- Other fires in 1640 and 1682, as well as an isostatic uplifting that increased the distances from the city to its wood export port, left their toll on the evolution of Rauma’s urban landscape. In the 17th century, a customs fence was erected around the city, and this limited its expansion. Planning regulations, which were based on an orthogonal layout, also influenced the city’s development.
- When the troops of Peter the Great invaded Finland during the Great Wrath of 1713-1721, Rauma was subjected to much damage.
- During the final years of the sailing ship era in the 1890s, Rauma enjoyed great prosperity. For a while, it possessed Finland’s first sailing fleet. The majority of the buildings in the historic city are inspired by the Neo-Renaissance style.