Old Rauma or Vanha Rauma is one of the most picture-perfect spots in Western Finland. The largest connected area of wooden buildings in the Nordics, this old town is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The area’s roots are in the middle ages and the oldest buildings still standing are from the 1600s. Still, Rauma is far from a museum – all the houses in Old Rauma are inhabited and the neigborhood is full of small boutiques, galleries and cool restaurants.
This was my home. For almost all of my childhood and adolescence, this town was all I knew. That feels odd to even think now, as I feel so completely removed of that time, of that life, of that me. Still, that quaint little town lives on in my memories and will probably always hold a special place in my heart. Still, whenever the sweet scent of lilacs surrounds me, I’m immediately transported to the garden of my childhood home in beautiful and sunny Rauma.
I’ll be honest. I didn’t really think Rauma was anything special when I was actually living there. People grow accustomed to their surroundings so fast that even the most beautiful scenery can soon feel ordinary, and I think that’s what happened to me. As a kid the city just felt suffocating and cramped. I did have some wonderful moments of youth in the city, but I never really felt completely satisfied with it.
Nowadays I love visiting Rauma, and looking at it as somewhat of an outsider I can say it really is an incredibly beautiful city. I guess I just had to spend some time away to be able to appreciate the quiet charm of this unique beauty.
The Old Town’s Market Square is a popular meeting place for locals, and the home of pystökaffe, which refers to a local tradition of enjoying a coffee and a donut while standing up. Several Finnish cities may have the same tradition, but it definitely doesn’t go by the same name – Rauma has a very distinct dialect, actually referred to as its own language by many locals.
The Night of the Black Lace
I know this sounds weird and possibly made up, but it’s actually one of Rauma’s most beloved traditions. Every year in late July the city celebrates Lace Week, honoring the area’s history of making lace. The town comes alive with all sorts of lace related events from penis-shaped lace art exhibitions to lace beauty pageants and lace concerts. On the last Friday of July the old town’s streets fill up with revelers as the Night of the Black Lace begins.
Locals traditionally dress up in black lace and tour the old town’s galleries and shops, stopping for a drink or ten in the courtyards. The celebration continues late into the night with live music and dancing.
Rauma is also home to Finland’s narrowest street, Kitukränn
Old Rauma is bordered by a set of canals
Outside the old town’s limits Rauma is a calm and beautiful small town, full of greenery and infused with a nautical atmosphere. Bicycles are the preferred vehicle in summer, and definitely the best way to experience the small town charm.
Rauma also has several beautiful beaches, some large and lively and some small coves perfect for a more intimate day on the beach or maybe some midnight skinnydipping. The lovely coastline is also dotted with marinas and park areas. Sailing and yachting are popular pastimes. The nearby archipelago with several idyllic islands and picturesque old lighthouses is also serviced by regular water taxi connections.
Rauma is the perfect place to relax and recharge