This is where I live – in the middle of the little town of Pargas in the southern archipelago of Finland.
This used to be the town center called Malmen (which originally meant a place with lots of sand), but then the town grew and the center moved to the other side of the strait (or canal, as the tourists call it. But it’s really a strait!) and this became Gamla Malmen, the old town center.
Many of the houses used to have shops in the lower floor, but nowadays almost all the houses are ordinary living quarters.
Well not so ordinary when I think about it!
There aren’t that many houses like these ones in Pargas, and we who get to live in one are really fortunate!
We get to live just a stone’s throw from the old medieval church, surrounded by history (like the yellow house that used to be a school) and with the most incredibly pretty houses as neighbors!
I love walking around on our old streets and think of all the people who have lived here. What was life like here a hundred years ago? Two hundred years ago, or even eight hundred years ago?
Most of the houses that still stand are from the 18th or 19th century, but they have been constantly rebuilt so many of them have features from the 20th century. Just like our house. From the outside our house is an ordinary early 20th century house, but on the inside you can find traces of at least one earlier house.
Every house used to have their own well, and in fact many still do just like ours. It is just perfect for when you are an avid gardener like I am and we don’t get enough rain water – we always have some water left in our well to water the plants with.
If you visit Sweden or Finland you get used to seeing houses like this one: a red house with white trims. This is the Dream for many people! or at least, to own a cottage like this one as a summer house.
The original Red house with white trims was Riddarhuset, a house on Riddarholmen in Stockholm, and rich people wanted to associate themselves with that building and be as refined so they started painting their big houses red. Then the farmers started painting their houses, their barns and everything in this red colour! The countryside is littered with buildings in this red colour, both in Finland and Sweden, and the paint is really cheap paint that is affordable for almost everyone. Or you can make your own, as our neighbors sometimes do!
I wonder how many people have walked these roads on their way to church.
It uses to be mandatory to attend church in the olden days, and it probably was a bit of fun also – you got to meet people and get the latest gossip and also the news from the pulpit. Nowadays almost no one attends church or only a few handfuls of old ladies, but at Christmas the church is filled with people – the church has room for about a thousand at a time.
Our church is such a beautiful church! They started building it in the 14th century and the paintings in the ceiling are just wonderful! So is the churchyard. I love walking in the churchyard and looking at the old gravestones.
This used to be a store, surrounded by other stores and shops and just a stone’s throw from the market place (now called the Old Marketplace and only used sometimes as such). People came to market or to church by boat, and our house actually used to lie just near the waterfront! The land has risen so much and the city has built a road nearby that drained parts of the land from water, so now we have to walk a little bit longer before we get to the harbor or the beach. A hundred years before you could see the beach from our kitchen window!
Many people have lived here, and many still live here, but we have it so much better than the people before! We have insulation, electric heaters, running water, indoor plumbing. It must have been quite a chore to have a house running in those days before electricity.
I love that all the houses have different colours in our part of town!
We have such a pretty old town in Pargas, and I am so fortunate to get to live here!