The Port of Rauma lies on the southwestern coast of Finland. It is Finland’s fifth largest port, shipping almost six million tons of cargo per year. Known for its high-quality lace products, its old city center was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1991. After the Second World War, the Port of Rauma became an important industrial center for shipbuilding, pulp and paper mills, and metals. In 2008, over 36 thousand people lived in the Port of Rauma.
Official records first noted the Port of Rauma in 1442. Before it was recognized as a town, the Port of Rauma had a Catholic church and a Franciscan monastery. Sweden’s King Gustav I Vasa commanded the town’s residents to move to Helsinki in 1550, and for several years, the town was almost abandoned.
The Black Plague struck the Port of Rauma in the 16th Century, killing most of the town’s residents and precipitating a 130-year ban on international sea traffic. Twice in the 17th Century, fires all but destroyed the wooden town, but it was rebuilt. Today, the town preserves about 600 wooden buildings, many built in a neo-renaissance style that reflects its sea-based prosperity.
By the late 1800s, the Port of Rauma had the largest fleet of sailing ships in Finland to support the export of timber and other goods to Germany, Sweden, and other Baltic countries.
Today, it still exports a lot of timber and wood products. It boasts one of Finland’s biggest dry docks. The city is also home to manufacturers of cellulose, munitions, and shoes, and it has many tanneries.
In 2007, the Port of Rauma handled almost seven million tons of cargo, including 4.7 million tons of general cargo, 1.8 million tons of dry bulk and 300 thousand tons of liquid bulk. The total included 4.6 million tons of foreign exports (primarily paper and cardboard) and 1.9 million tons of foreign imports (primarily round wood and china clay).
The largest single cargo was paper and cardboard, accounting for 3.5 million tons of the total. About one-fifth of the total was in 174 thousand TEUs of containerized cargo. The Port of Rauma is the largest paper port in Finland, with about 2.5 million tons of paper and cardboard moving through the port each year.
The Port of Rauma covers 115 hectares. It contains 260 thousand square meters of covered space for general cargoes, 30 thousand square meters of heated warehouses, 230 thousand square meters of bulk cargo warehouses. The Port of Rauma has silo capacity for 175 thousand tons and capacity to store 560 thousand cubic meters of chemicals and oil. The Container Terminal in the Port of Rauma covers about 14 hectares. Two terminals in the Port of Rauma support liquid bulk cargoes: the Chemical Harbor and the Oil Harbor.
Cruising and Travel
The City of Rauma has a long sea-faring history and highly-praised tradition of lace-making. More recently, the Port of Rauma has developed a blue-collar history based on the wood and metal industries and its shipyards. A nuclear power plant is being constructed there that brought in many engineers and their families, changing the face of the city.
Old Rauma is the biggest surviving wooden town in Nordic countries. Buildings still in use date back to the 17th Century. In 1991, it was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site on the city’s 550th anniversary. Covering 28 hectares, its 600 buildings are largely privately-owned. About 800 people live in Old Rauma, and its businesses surround the market square.
In the summer, several nearby islands offer interesting and entertaining activities for visitors. Kylmapihlaja has a lighthouse that is also a hotel. Kuuskajaskari, which was once used by the military, still has coastal artillery cannons on display. Reksaari is home to island groves. In the winter, the water is frozen, and it is possible to walk, skate, or ski on the sea.
Usually held in late July, Lace Week may be the best time to visit the Port of Rauma. The Night of Black Lace kicks off what quickly becomes a bar-hopping adventure.