The Aura River Pilgrimages
The Way of Helena and of Peter are two pilgrim trails along the Aura River. Along the way, you will find unique spaces and landscapes that are rich in cultural history. They carry the memory of early Christianity in Finland, as well as life in even earlier times. The journey begins in an urban setting, but especially on the Way of Peter you will gradually move towards traditional Finnish rural scenery.
Turku Cathedral – St. Catherine’s Church – Koroistenniemi – St. Mary’s Church – Turku Cathedral
This trail of 8.5 km (about 5 miles) can be either walked or biked. Easily accessible, it works especially well as a first experience of pilgrimage.
Turku Cathedral – St. Catherine’s Church – Ristimäki – Vanhalinna – Pulkkio Chapel – Lieto Church – Ristinpelto – St. Mary’s Church – Koroistenniemi – Turku Cathedral
This trail of 34 km (about 21 miles) is recommended for bikers or experienced walkers. Instead of walking the entire trail, you can choose to return from Lieto to Turku by bus. Another alternative is to make a two-day journey and spend the night in Lieto.
Tips for your journey
The easiest way to explore the sites along these paths is to download a free mobile app called Nomadi, which will guide you along your way. The app includes a map that uses location data, historical background about the sites, and suggestions for contemplating your own journey.
You will find both the Way of Helena and the Way of Peter by searching “Pilgrimage Turku” on the app. If the search outcome shows the routes in Finnish, you will find the English version by clicking the flag icon in the picture.
There is a pilgrimage passport available for the Aura River pilrimages. You can pick one up for free at Turku Cathedral during its opening hours. At several sites along the way you will be able stamp your passport with a special symbol that reflects the story of the site. The stamps are kept in black mailboxes marked with a symbol of four seashells. The passport also includes a simple map and basic info for your journey.
The opening hours for services along the way depend on the season. Most of the cafés and toilets are only open in summertime. It’s a good idea to plan your journey in advance. Make sure to take enough food and water with you!
Sites along the way
This was the only cathedral built in medieval Finland. For centuries it was the heart of Finnish spiritual life and, until the protestant reformation, a popular place of pilgrimage.
St. Catherine’s Church
Built in the 15th century, this is the home church of one of the oldest parishes in Finland. It was preceded by a wooden church, and before this an early Christian cemetery.
Ristimäki in Ravattula
Ristimäki, meaning Cross Hill, is the site of the oldest known church remains in Finland. The foundations of a small wooden sanctuary were discovered in archaeological excavations by Turku University in 2013.
Towering 47 meters above the river, he archaic hill of Vanhalinna has fascinated people through the ages. It was an important administrative fort before the establishment of Turku Castle.
This private home invites pilgrims to visit a chapel that has been built in an old barn in its courtyard. You are welcome to stop by whenever the gate is open.
Lieto was most likely an important prehistoric center upstream along the Aura river. In the Middle Ages, a Christian sanctuary was built first of wood, later of stone.
Ristinpelto, meaning Field of the Cross, is the site of one of the earliest known Christian graveyards in the Turku region. It preceded the Lieto parish and was used during the 12th century.
St. Mary’s Church
Built in mid-15th century, the stone church of Maaria (Mary) is exceptionally well preserved in its original state. The paintings of the church hall were created by its builders.
This can be described as the place where the written history of Finland begins. Established here shortly after 1229, the bishop’s see of Koroinen was the ecclesiastic center of Finland until Turku Cathedral was built.