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Vartiovuori observatory is the former observatory of the Royal Academy of Turku. Building was completed 1819 and it was designed by German architect Carl Ludvig Engel. By its style, the neoclassical observatory is typical work of Engel and it has obvious similarities to Helsinki University Observatory and Pulkovo Observatory (in St. Petersburg, Russia), which are as well Engel's work. Building is located on top of the Vartiovuori hill, close to the cathedral and Aura river and it's well visible from many places in city center.
The Great Fire Of Turku
The observatory and several wooden houses (current Luostarinmäki Handicrafts Museum) on the hill were saved from the Great Fire of Turku 1827. Observatory is famous for a note made by German astronomer Friedrich Wilhelm Argelander who was working at 4 September 1827:
- Hic observationes terribili illo interceptae sunt incendio, quod totam fere urbem ad cineres reduxit, observatorium vero, gratiae habeantur Deo O.M., salvum intactumque reliquit.
or "Here the observations were stopped by a horrible fire which burn the whole city into ashes but, thanks to God, left the observatory intact".
The Academy moved to Helsinki after the Fire and got a new observatory there few years later. Instruments were moved to Helsinki and finally Vartiovuori Observatory became defunct 1834. At 1836 Åbo Navigationsskola (Swedish Maritime School) moved into empty observatory building and stayed there until 1967. Between 1986 and 1998 building was a maritime museum and during the repair of the Turku Art Museum 1999–2005, the changing exhibitions were placed in observatory. Currently and also in the picture, a flag of the foundation Stiftelsen för Åbo Akademi flies over the building.
- Karttunen H. Vanhin tiede, Ursa 1996 (ISBN 951-9269-83-5) (in Finnish)
- Vartiovuorenmäen tähtitorni kulttuuripääkaupungin ytimeksi Turun Sanomat, 2004. (in Finnish)