Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Vaasa (Vasa in Swedish, Wasa in Latin), is a city on the west coast of Finland. It received its charter in 1606, during the reign of Charles IX of Sweden. It is named after the Royal House of Vasa. Today, Vaasa has a population of 57,014 (2003), and is part of the administrative province of Western Finland and the region of Ostrobothnia.
The history of Mustasaari (Korsholm) and also of Vaasa begins in the 14th century, when the seafarers from the coastal region in central Sweden disembarked at the present Old Vaasa, and the wasteland owners from Finland Proper came to guard their land. In the middle of the century Saint Mary's Church was built and in the 1370's the building of the fortress at Korsholm, Crysseborgh, was undertaken, and it served as administrative centre of the Vasa County. King Charles IX of Sweden founded the town of Mustasaari on October 2, 1606 around the oldest harbour and trade point around the Mustasaari church approximately seven kilometres to the southwest from the present city. In 1611 the town was chartered and renamed after the Royal House of Vasa. Thanks to the sea connections ship building and trade, especially tar trade, was flourishing from the 17th century and most of the inhabitants earned their living from it. In 1683 the three-subject or 'trivial' school moved from Nykarleby to Vaasa and four years later a new schoolhouse was built in Vaasa. The first library in Finland was founded in Vaasa in 1794.
The mainly wooden and densely built town was almost totally destroyed in a fire on August 3, 1852. Only the Wasastjerna house and the Court of Appeal and some Russian guard-houses escaped the blaze. Also the ruins of the greystone church, the belfry, the town hall and the trivialschool can be found in their original places. Much archive material concerning Vaasa and its inhabitants was destroyed in the fire.
The new town
The new town of Nikolaistad (Fi. Nikolainkaupunki, after late Czar Nicholas I) rose in 1862 about seven kilometres to the northwest from the old town. The town's location at the sea offered good conditions for seafaring. The town plan in the Empire style was planned by Carl Axel Setterberg. In the master plan the disastrous consequences of the fire were considered. Main streets in the new town were five broad avenues which divided the town into sections. Every block was divided by alleys.
Site of Government
During the Civil War, Vaasa was the capital of Finland from January 29 to May 3, 1918. As a consequence of the occupation of central places and arresting of politicians in Helsinki the senate decided to move the senators to Vaasa, where the White Guards that supported the senate had a strong position and the contacts to the west were good. The Senate of Finland began its work in Vaasa on February 1, 1918 and it had four members. The senate held its sessions in the Town Hall. To express its gratitude to the town the senate gave Vaasa the right to add the cross of freedom, independent Finland's oldest mark of honour designed by Akseli Gallen-Kallela, to its coat of arms.
See also: Vasa (disambiguation)
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