The town of Rauma on the Finnish west coast is all about heritage. This time of year it is all about lace because it is time for the annual lace festival. Rauma is one of the Finnish sites of World Heritage and celebrates 570 years this summer.
Rauma became a commercial and ecclestiastical centre of the region in the early 15th century because of the Franciscan monastery. The sea made Rauma a trade centre and it began to develop in the Middle Ages. The first church was built in 1300s and today we can see only ruins of the Church of Holy Trinity. The town has survived plague, recessions, fires and bombings in the Crimean War. It is today an industrial town with a history of seafaring and education. Shipbuilding, forestry industry and machinery are the biggest industries today although the majority is employed in the service industries. The people are employed in public service industry. Today the extension work of Olkiluoto nuclear plant is an important source of livelihood for both Rauma natives and incoming labour force.
Rauma is a small town with about 40,000 inhabitants. The old town of Rauma is listed as cultural world heritage thanks to the old wooden town. There are several buildings of cultural value e.g. the old town hall that dominates the market place and that serves today as Rauma Museum. Two old houses have been transformed to museums: Kirsti is example of a seaman’s town house in the 18th century and the other, Marela, is a museum that shows how a ship-owning family lived at the end of 19th century. According to the Rauma tourist website “Old Rauma is the largest unified historical wooden town in the Nordic countries.” (http://www.oldrauma.fi/english/index.html).
The old town covers 28 hectares and 600 buildings. It is even today a living part of the town. There is also an old church, the Church of Holy Cross that celebrates its 500th anniversary this September. It is a church of a former monastery of a Franciscan monastery. The town itself celebrates 570 yrs.
Rauma is the town where I’ve spent major parts of my summer the past ten years of so. My father-in-law was raised there and return to the town as he retired in the 80’s. Thus we have excellent and even extraordinary local knowledge. It is a pity though that the older generation is getting really old and has a failing memory not what we are getting interested in the town and family history.
This week is the week for the annual Lace Week when the town gets filled with lace enthusiasts and tourists. It is good to see also many Finns tourist in the town. Lace is part of cultural heritage as Rauma lace employed many townspeople in the 18th century when lace-decorated bonnets where high fashion in Europe. Lace models and fine bobbin tread were imported and a bobbin school was established in the 190th century. Bobbin lace is a special type of lace that is woven with a bobbin pillow (see one of the pictures). The town has kept is lace tradition and today you can see the old models together with new ones just as well as you see older weavers together with younger ones; men and women, boys and girls. The Lace Week offers programme with lace weaving shows, concerts, theatre, art exhibitions, historical guided tours for adults and children and many more events. Rauma has its own dialect that is one of the south-western Finnish dialects. The dialect has been affected by the seafaring traditions and the harbour but there is really no knowledge of its origins. During the Lace Week you can listen to songs, recitals and plays in the dialect. There are even books written in the dialect.
Rauma is really peaceful and we’ve enjoyed walks along the streets of the old town and easy grocery and other shopping. There are quite many interior decoration shops for such a small town. The café culture is growing and they are proud of the local specialties lapskoussi or labskaus (sailors’ favourite, a stew of minced potatoes, vegetables and boiled meat seasoned with pepper and salts) and topseilvellinki (a soup of prunes, raisins, sugar and rice, the name coming from the top sail as it was a common dish on the ships and young men got energy from the soup to climb quickly to the mast).
The town’s first farmers’ market shop and café Lumo was opened a couple of years ago. The name plays a pun in Finnish for luomu is the world for ecological in Finnish and lumo is enchantment. They sell local produce and you can find almost anything there. We’ve taken a liking especially to a crisp bread from a village nearby. Bread we had to live without last summer because the baker had broken his arm! Now you have an idea how small scale producers products they have. I’ve also found a lovely ecological dried soup mix of cep and spelt. Lumo is where I found the Ayrvedic Yogi teas and last summer the Pucca teas.
There are other summer events in Rauma. Finns love to arrange events in the summer and many towns like Rauma make a good business out of them. See the touris office pages www.rauma.fi/english /events.htm for more information.
Should you find yourself in Rauma one of these days do not miss these:
Lumo – ecological farmers’ market, Kuninkaankatu 26
hannas – local interior decoration products and imported goods, Tallikedonkatu 11
Kodinonni – interior decoration, Kauppakatu 17
Kerttu Horila’s studio – a ceramic artits, a lovely studio and garden, Länsikatu 7
Café Sali – the best café in town, good lunch salads, free wifi, Kuninkaankatu 22
Ykspihlaja – old light house and nature reserve, take the boat at Poroholma camping
Kahvila Kontio– Kuninkaankatu 9 and the bakery café near CityMarket, do not miss their vanilla doughnuts!
Rauma Tourist Office www.rauma.fi/english
Church of Holy Cross
Kerttu Horila and her art
Kerttu Horila’s studio (www.kerttuhorila.com)
Kauppakatu, old Savings Bank