The enchanting Old Town
The Old Town of Ekenäs was originally built to be a fisherman’s village. The Swedish King Gustav Vasa granted city charters to only two towns in the 16th century, Ekenäs and Helsinki, intending for them to compete with Revel (today’s Tallinn) which was flourishing on the other side of the Gulf of Finland. The oldest remaining houses in Ekenäs Old Town date from the 18th century, and carry the echo of long-vanished trades in their romantic-sounding names: “Hat Makers’ Street”, “Cloth Weavers’ Street”, “Glove Makers’ Street”, “Leather Makers’ Street” and “Smith’s Street”. The oldest group of buildings can be found at Linvävaregatan (Linen Weaver’s Street).
“Rumour Mirrors” (small mirrors attached to the outside of windows that enable the inhabitants to observe everything that takes place in the street outside), the elegantly crafted and decorated glass verandahs and the beautifully-made cobblestones all contribute their own piquant flavour to the atmosphere of Ekenäs Old Town.
The buildings of the Old Town, from Raatihuoneentori to the South bay, are still in good condition with well-tended gardens and there are people living in every house, while over everything looms the impressive tower of Ekenäs’ grey stone church. The distinctive names of the quarters, such as Bleak (a type of fish) Whalefish, Herring and Wild Pig, along with the old-style street lamps, gives an extra spice to the face of the Old Town.