The Archipelagic Sea
The twin-masted Inga takes tourists to admire the archipelago.
- like a spellbinding tale of creation
The part of the Baltic stretching away to the west and south-west of Turku is aptly called the Archipelagic Sea, because it is dotted with more than 20,000 islands. It is a breathtakingly beautiful sight without parallel anywhere in the world. Its rocky cliffs still reflect some of the planet's oldest history, with shapes and colours that came into being nearly 2 billion years ago. Most of what was created then and also later has long since been eroded away, but some traces remain. During the last great glaciation 10,000 - 100,000 years ago the continental ice sheet left its marks on the landscape. Once it was freed from the enormous weight of the ice that had pressed it down, the land began rising again and continues to do so - at a rate of around half a metre every century. That is how Finland's heavily-embayed coast and its fringing islands gradually took shape.
Experts tell us that people reached the archipelago soon after the Ice Age had ended. But what is soon? In that era long ago it probably meant a millennium, or longer. Not that fussy real-time haste has caught on very much in the archipelago since then, either. Visitors soon notice that they are enjoying nature and the tranquillity of the place at the pace that the enchanting surroundings set. They can get around by boat, ship, car or bicycle. The Archipelago Route with its bridges and small ferries is nearly 200 kilometres long and offers a great variety of sights and experiences, everything from the atmosphere of an ancient Viking settlement to staying overnight in an old lighthouse.