Province: Vaasan laani (Vasa IanVaasa).
Altitude: sea level. Population: 55,000.
Postal code: SF-65100. Telephone code: 9 61.
Town Hall; tel. 11 38 53.
HOTELS. Waskia, Vaskiluoto, 400 SP; Central, Hovioikeudenpuistikko 21, 290 SP; Fenno, Vaskiluoto, 297 Coronet, Ylatori D, 54 Villitys, Pitkakatu 21, 115 b. (June to August). YOUTH HOSTEL.-CAMPSITE.
EVENTS. Vaasa Festival (June); Stundars Feast, with folk singing and dancing (July).
SPORTS and RECREATION. Bowling, tennis, golf, riding, fishing, sailing.
The western Finnish town of Vaasa (Swedish Vasa), on the Gulf of Bothnia, is the main town of its province and the seat of the Provincial Appeal Court. A third of the population is Swedish-speaking. The town lies at the narrowest part ofthe Gulf of Bothnia, sheltered by a girdle of skerries (rocky islets), the archipelago ofthe Valsoarna and the islands of Vallgrund and Bjorko. The shortest route between Finland and Sweden is the Vaasa-UmeS ferry.
HISTORY. The town, named after the Swedish royal house of Vasa, was founded in 1 606 at Mustasaari, then on the coast but now 6 km (4 miles) inland. It received its municipal charter in 1611. It was twice destroyed in war, in 1714 and 1808, and was devastated by a great fire in 1852. ft was rebuilt, beginning in 1862, on the coast, now farther W. The rebuilding was directed by the provincial architect, Carl Axel Setterberg; and, as at Pori, the new town was laid out with broad avenues (puistikko) to reduce the fire hazard. Setterberg favoured the neo-Gothic style; other architects went in for a variety of other styles. In December 1 917, after the proclamation of Finnish independence, Vaasa became the temporary capital of the country, when the socialist militia seized control of Helsinki and the Senate was compelled to flee to Vaasa. From here, General C. G. Mannerheim directed operations for the recovery of the capital from the Red Brigades and the Russian troops supporting them. This explains the cross of freedom which features in the town’s coat of arms, as it does in the arms of Mikkeli.
SIGHTS. Between the two wide avenues, Hovioikeudenpuistikko and Vaasanpuistikko, which run SW from the station through the middle of the town, is the Market Square, with a monument commemorating the 1918 war of liberation. SW of the square are the neo-Gothic Trinity Church (C. A. Setterberg, 1 868) with an altarpiece by A. Edelfelt, and the neo-Baroque Town House (1 881). Oppositethechurch, tothe N, isa bronze statue of the writer Zachris To-pelius. At the W end of Hovioikeudenpuistikko (Appeal Court Avenue), in a square laid out in gardens bythesea, is the Provincial Court of Appeal (1 859). To the S of the court is a monument commemorating the landing of a Prussian battalion in February 1 91 8. Tothe N is the Mariepark, with the Osterbotten Regional Museum (Pohjanmaa Museum). Tothe S of the town lies Hietalahti Park, with the Brage open-air museum and a summer restaurant.
The Vaasanpuistikko runs over a narrow channel (road and railway causeway) on to the island of Vaskiluoto. From the causeway, a short side road provides access to the islet of Hietasaari (Swedish Sando: park, with bathing facilities).
SURROUNDINGS.-6 km (4miles) inland, to the SE, is Old Vaasa, the site of the earlier town (destroyed by fire in 1852). Here are the ruins of St Mary’s Church, originally on a basilican plan but converted by successive alterations into a cruciform church. Mustasaari church was originally the Court of Appeal, a building in Gustavian style erected in the reign of Gustav III.
The ring of skerries in the Gulf of Bothnia offers great variety of beauty and enjoyment. Boats can be rented for fishing trips, or visitors can accompany the local fishermen. There are many huts on the islands, available for rent through the tourist information office. In a particularly hard winter, it is possible to drive across the frozen Gulf of Bothnia from Bjorkoby to UrneS in Sweden.