Turku in the South-western corner of Finland is the oldest city and the first capital of the whole country. Today it is the capital of its region, the Southwest Finland. Turku is the only Finnish member in the modern Hanseatic league and hosted the meeting of the Hanseatic towns in 2004 when Turku celebrated her 775th birthday. Turku is often said to be the only West European town in Finland as all medieval European towns have four things in common: a river for transport, a cathedral for religious power, a castle that represent the secular power and last but not least - a market place for acts of commerce. Turku has them all! Even the name of Turku originates from a Slavic word «torg» -meaning a market place. The Swedish name for the town is Åbo - referring to the first settlers by the river, «å». Turku was born along the river Aura and it is one of the best attractions of the town. All the main places of interest are located by the river from the unique national treasures the Castle in the harbour area up to the stately Cathedral close to the Old Great Square. The riverbanks are pulsing with life in summertime when people gather there to dine and wine, to listen to music and to have a good time. On good winters the river will get an ice coating turning it to a busy winter promenade. From the city centre down to the stately museum vessels round the maritime centre the river houses a genuine fleet of boats serving as restaurants. The unique river ferry «föri» takes people for a mini cruise across from Turku to Åbo! - and a real armada of ships for longer cruises to the archipelago of Turku the whole summer through. The great and luxurious passangerships sail from the harbour at the mouth of the river across to Sweden the whole year through. During the past centuries Turku has met with wars and invasions, fires, pests and other calamities. After the Great fire that destroyed nearly the whole city centre in 1827, Turku emerged from the ashes with renewed vigour. The zcars architect C.L. Engel gave the town a new townplan and some stately buildings: the orthodox church and the Swedish theatre at the market and an Observatory building on the Vartiovuori Hill. In the Turku it is possible study the styles in building from the 1200´s up to our modern times. The Castle and the Cathedral show the styles of several centuries, the well preserved housing areas like Port Arthur with blocks of wooden houses from the beginning of 1900s, and the fine excemples of the functionalistic works of architects Alvar Aalto or Erik Bryggman from the 1930´s to the prized constructions from the 1990s of turning old industrial buildings to modern art institutions. Turku has a lively and versatile cultural life: several theatres, a city philharmonic orchestra, chamber music, jazz & rock etc. The Turku Music Festival and rockfestival Ruisrock are among the oldest in Finland and even in whole Scandinavia. The art-exhibitions and permanent collections in the city museums and art galleries are highly estimated both in Finland and abroad. The Cultural Centre organises fine annual events. The best known of these are the Medieval Market at the end of July and the Old time Christmas market before Christmas. As Turku is also Finland's Christmas city there is a chain of events from the end of November through to the middle of January. Today Turku is also a centre of IC- & BIO technology and education. It is the home of two universities, of the high school of economics and business administration, an Art academy and an important adult education centre. Thus Turku is also an ideal place to host meetings and congresses of scientific topics.