Finland, Travels

Things to Do in Finland #2: Kauppahalli (Market Hall)

In market halls, the sense of place is intensified: vegetables, bread, coffee beans, cakes and delicacies, smiles, stares, smell of spice, people strolling around, people separated by counters of fruits; buyers and sellers and loiterers all in one moment of time and space, all in the Market Hall. The time has stopped, this is how the country really is: all that has been built is built on this.

On our visits to foreign territories, many of us pop into a shopping centre or a mall – those soulless shiny structures designed to suck out any personality or uniqueness of location. This is why I recommend, instead of a quick look around in a shopping centre, the precursor of them: Market Halls.

Helsinki's Old Market Hall recently went through a renovation. Notice the difference between the late 19th century market halls and the early 20th century ones (see first image).

Helsinki’s Old Market Hall recently went through a renovation. Notice the difference between the late 19th century market halls and the early 20th century ones (see first image).

Finland’s oldest Market Hall is in Helsinki and it opened for public in 1889. Turku got its own in 1894: both Helsinki’s and Turku’s Market Halls were designed by Gustaf Nyström. After these, many followed: for example, Kuopio, which is a Savonian city situated in the middle of vast dark forrests and shallow blue lakes, got its own in 1902. This Jugend-style Market Hall is very different from the earlier red brick buildings of Nyström. Tampere, Finland’s third populous city, got its own hall a year before Kuopio: above its window you can see Mercury, the Romand god of commerce.

Kuopio's Market Hall is the first one I remember visiting, and it still hold a special spot in my stomach.

Kuopio’s Market Hall is the first one I remember visiting, and it still holds a special spot in my stomach.

You can taste different types of traditional Finnish foods in Market Halls, such as this little fish - my personal pet hate, though... But many like it!

You can taste different types of traditional Finnish foods in Market Halls, such as this little fish – my personal pet hate, though… But many like it!

These are very syrapy traditional lollipops called 'Nekku'. I used to eat them so much when growing up that I wanted my friends to call me Nekku. They didn't.

These are very syrapy traditional lollipops called ‘Nekku’. I used to eat them so much when growing up that I wanted my friends to call me Nekku. They didn’t.

It's not that hard to find corky little coffee shops in Finland: this one made to look like an old train car is in Turku Kauppahalli and it is called Blue Train. Buns were amazing.

It’s not that hard to find corky little coffee shops in Finland: this one made to look like an old train car is in Turku Kauppahalli and it is called The Blue Train. Buns were amazing.

Nowadays, apart from old fashioned traditional goodies, you also find modern days' foodie stuff, such as coffee beans roasted by nearby micro roasters in Market Halls.

Nowadays, apart from old-fashioned traditional goodies, you also find modern days’ foodie stuff, such as coffee beans roasted by nearby micro roasters.

And then, naturally, there is the cute local handicraft. These little elves live in Kuopio.

And then, naturally, there is the cute local handicraft. These little elves live in Kuopio.

To sum it up, on top of being a “real” traveller only “after real, existential” experiences on your journey to the sense of the place, you’ll fill your stomach in Market Halls! Enjoy!

What: Market Halls are an internal part of town and city life in Finland. Especially so for the elderly inhabitants, but recently, thanks to the rising foodie culture and emphasis on locality, also young populace has found the Market Halls again.

Where: Market Halls are normally located in the heart of the cities and towns, that is, the markets. Sometimes you have to step aside a little bit but never too far away. See more info from the links I attach at the end of the post!

When: Notice that the Market Halls are closed on Sundays! Some even on Saturdays. During weekdays, they normally open at 8 so this is a good place for a morning coffee as many coffee shops in Finland are not open for breakfast business.

Some links to English sites (many have only Finnish sites, unfortunately – you can google entering ‘kauppahalli’ and the location you wish to visit, e.g. ‘kuopio kauppahalli’):

Helsinki Old Market Hall

Turku Market Hall 

As you can guess, I love Market Halls. Hope you'll enjoy them too!

As you can guess, I love Market Halls. Hope you’ll enjoy them too!

P.S. Here’s the link for the first thing to do in Finland, Sauna!

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