Kuikainen is a little town and is probably the smallest village we’ve visited so far. In the late summer is was a beautiful place to visit, with all the gardens at their peak and the fields tall with barley, rye and wheat. We had a great time there, enjoying a selection of the best Finnish summer activities including picking berries, visiting a kesämöki (summer cottage), grilling lunch outside, playing mölkky and just generally soaking up the good weather. Many, many thanks to Kaisa and her folks for making us feel so welcome there!
Panorama of the fields outside Kiukainen (click to change the view):
Rauma is a much larger town and is fairly well known for its “old town” containing wooden houses following the architecture and styles from the 1600’s to the late 1800’s. Indeed, the centre of the town is a UNESCO World Heritage listed site. You can find more about the history of Rauma, including how it benefited from the “lace boom” of the early 1800’s, at Wikipedia and the Rauma city History and Culture webpages. While we were very lucky with the timing of our visit to nearly Sammallahdenmäki, we arrived at Rauma as many of the shops and museums were about to close. Despite missing the museums, it was great to wander around the town, finding unusual sights tucked between the wooden houses. Most of the houses in old Rauma have their own courtyards, each of which has its own name, and it was interesting to peak into a few of the open yards to see what their contemporary uses were.
Rauma’s history is linked with its churches – two of which we visited. Franciscan monks settled in the area in the late 1400’s and built the the Church of the Holy Cross. It is apparently beautiful… but since we missed its Saturday opening times (check them out here if you’re going to visit) we can’t give you a first-hand account. On the other side of the old town is the Church of the Holy Trinity which may have been built as early at the mid 1300’s. After it burnt down in 1640 the town parish moved across to the Church of the Holy Cross. The ruins and old graveyard were worth a quick visit, being a shady and quiet spot on a warm day.
Panorama from the ruins of the Church of the Holy Trinity in Rauma (click to change the view):
If you find yourself in Rauma and hungry, we can recommend Cafe Sali – we enjoyed a tasty and very reasonably priced lunch there. Kahvila Soppi was also a good place to visit, both for its interesting decor and its unusual selection of ice cream flavours. Also definitely check out the town’s tourist brochure for more information (available as pdf here) – you might want to time your visit for their annual Lace Week, which we heard is a good time to explore the town because all the courtyards are open for visitors.