I had a couple of days in Turku, Finland, before heading off to Stockholm. I hadn’t planned on visiting any cemetery here, but when looking at the maps of the city it was clear that there was a large cemetery to be visited on the outskirts of town. Despite arriving in the city early in the morning, an afternoon nap at the hotel went longer than expected, so I only had a few hours of usable daylight left to do anything. I decided to do most of my sightseeing the following day and started the long walk up towards the cemetery. Yes, I could have taken the bus, but Turku is quite a nice city and I always like getting to cities by walking them. From the downtown area it took about 45 minutes to get there. It’s quite a large cemetery, with the large, tall trees so common in the cemeteries I have visited in this northern European trip.

I didn’t know it at the time, but this cemetery was a preview of the other cemeteries I would see in Finland and Sweden, that is, most of the headstones were simple slabs, and sometimes crosses, with basic details on them. There were very few statues and not a lot of ornamentation. Occasionally I would come across a covered urn or a broken column, but for the most part, many of the graves were smaller and understated.

The grounds were on a slightly rolling hill, but the paths were clear and well-tended to. There were plenty of red squirrels running around, and I could hear birdsong everywhere I went, which made it a very pleasant place to visit. I was there quite late in the day (around 5 p.m.) so there weren’t many people about – I only came across a couple of mourners.

The cemetery is famous for some notable Finns who have been buried there, but I didn’t know any of them.

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Quality of Monuments: As noted, there are a few statues here, but most of the monuments are quite plain. There are some very new headstones next to some very old ones.

Cemetery Grounds: Quite large and extensive, there is a slight incline to part of the cemetery, but the paths are clear and easy to walk around.

Visitors: Few, although I was there at the end of the day. At the entrance of the cemetery there is a gravestone workshop and a florist, so that does indicate it’s probably busier than what I experienced. There are tours here, for people who have the time and money.

Photographer notes: Lots of tall trees can make for some hard contrasts of light and shadow, but the area is quite spacious so it’s fairly easy to get some good angles.

Cemetery: Turku Cemetery (Finnish: Turun hautausmaa, Swedish: Åbo begravningsplats)

Inaugurated: 1807

Location: South-east part of Turku. Bus #7 will take you there in about 5-10 minutes from the downtown area, alternatively you could walk.

Hours: As far as I can tell, it seems to be open 24 hours. The stone fence is quite low and easily crossable, and I seem to recall (perhaps incorrectly, I don’t know) that the entrances had no gates on them.