Uusikaupunki is a town in Southwestern Finland, along the coast of the Baltic Sea. Founded at the time the area was still a part of Sweden, it is also known by its Swedish name Nystad. Both versions of the name mean “the new town”. It is a town with a long tradition of building wooden ships and sailing is still a part of the local identity. The town is today the center of the Uusikaupunki Municipality, a municipality with a population of around 15.000 inhabitants.
A Short History of Uusikaupunki
The town of Nystad, which is the Swedish name that was originally used, was founded by the Swedish King Gustav II Adolf in 1617. Building wooden ships had for centuries been important for the area with trade being conducted around the Baltic Sea. The foundation of Nystad had the purpose to legalize trade and was placed in the area earlier belonging to three small villages – Ruokola, Mäyhölä, and Pietola.
The young town entered the history books in 1721. It was here that the Treaty of Nystad was signed between Sweden and Russia. The treaty ended the Great Northern War that had begun in 1700. This was the treaty that put an end to the Swedish imperial era and saw Sweden lose Estonia, Livonia, Ingria, and parts of southeastern Finland. Ingria soon became the location of the new Russian capital, St. Petersburg. The period of the Great Northern War had also seen many of the Swedish-speaking inhabitants flee to Sweden Proper.
Following the war and the later annexation by Russia in the Treaty of Fredrikshamn in 1809, the town continued its shipbuilding traditions and expanded. Many sailors moved into the new areas as the importance of shipping increased. Shipping routes connected Uusikaupunki with mainly Copenhagen and Stockholm.
The shipbuilding tradition survived until the industrial revolution at the end of the 19th century. Other industries later took over with Valmet Automotive being the most significant. The company was founded in 1968 in a collaboration with Saab-Scania and has produced around 700.000 cars since. Around 600.000 of these cars have been Saab, such as the 95, 900, and 9-3. But there are also cars such as the Lada Samara Baltic, the Opel Calibra, the Porsche Boxter, and the Porsche Cayman S. Most recently the production has been of the Mercedes-Benz A-Class and the Mercedes-Benz X253 GLC.
Things to Do and See
Some of the activities here include walking along the marina, enjoying the sunshine in one of the many parks, or swimming in the Baltic Sea. In fact, there is plenty to do in Uusikaupunki. This is after all a historical town with wooden ships, wooden houses, and plenty of water around.
Myllymäki Windmill Park
Myllymäki, or Kvarnbacken in Swedish, is the location of several historical windmills. It is today a park area and has been so since at least the 1930s. The park includes windmills from the 19th century that have been moved to this location from other parts of the region. There are a total of four windmills in the park, as well as an old water tower.
Leijonapuisto, or the Lion Park, is a large playground area close to the center of the town. Let’s just say that it is perfect when you have kids that are a bit too restless to explore the town and need to get to play somewhere.
Uusikaupunki Old Church
The town’s old church was built in the 1620s and has suffered from faults in its original construction, which has resulted in several reconstructions. It is a stone church that was the main church in the town until the 1850s.
Uusikaupunki New Church
The town’s new church was completed in 1863. It is a red brick church built in a Neo-Gothic style.
Wahlberg’s House is part of the Uusikaupunki Museum and showcases parts of the town’s maritime history. The house, which was built in the 19th century, belonged to a local tobacco factory owner named Fredrik Wahlberg. In addition to showing the life of the Wahlberg Family, the museum also has exhibitions of local maritime history.
Naval Pilot Museum
The Naval Pilot Museum, or Luotsimuseo in Finnish, shows parts of the maritime history of the town. It is housed in the old pilot home on the Vallimäki hillside and was built in 1857. This is where you can learn more about the pilot’s life and occupation.
The Sailor’s Home Museum
The Sailor’s Home Museum is another part of the Uusikaupunki Museum’s showcasing the local maritime history. This is where you can learn more about the life of an ordinary sailor and his family.
Have you heard of Bonk Business Inc? That famous world-leading company within fields such as Defunctioned Machinery, Cosmic Therapy, and Advanced Disinformation Systems? Yes, it is a fictional company created by the Finnish artist Alvar Gullichsen and there is a museum showcasing many of this fictional company’s many inventions in Uusikaupunki.
How to Get to Uusikaupunki
Flights: The closest major airport is Turku Airport (TKU), 79 kilometers drive away with mostly domestic flights as well as a few charter airlines. Helsinki Airport (HEL) is 241 kilometers away and is the main airport in Finland with both domestic and international flights.
Car: Uusikaupunki is at the end of road 43, east of Kalanti and Laitila. Laitila is the closest connection to road E8, between Rauma and Turku.
Train: Passenger trains have not regularly arrived and departed from Uusikaupunki since 1993. The closest railway station can today be found in Turku.
The driving distance from 5 major Finnish cities, according to Google Maps:
Helsinki – 239 kilometers (2 h 44 min) Turku – 79 kilometers (58 min) Vaasa – 290 kilometers (3 h 27 min) Oulu – 608 kilometers (7 h 3 min) Joensuu – 567 kilometers (6 h 43 min)
Find out more about other destinations in Finland by visiting our page Exploring Finland