Tornio

The first travel descriptions

The Swedish historian and cartographer, the cathedral dean of Strängnäs Olaus Magnus Gothus was the first to introduce the far-off North to the Europeans. The Latin epos the History of the People of the North was published in 1555.

Pierre-Louis Moreau de Maupertuis, on the orders of Ludvig XV, King of France, made an expedition to Lapland in 1736 – 1737, thus further enhancing the knowledge of the Sea Lapland region in Europe. His expedition entourage included astronomers and mathematicians, the purpose of the expedition being the geodetic survey of the earth; his results would be that the earth is flattened at the poles.

On his return to France, de Maupertuis would boast of the beauty of the scenery, of the Northern Lights in the region, and of the delicacies he was offered due to the great hospitability of the people. Through these travel description books, people of even this generation have gained detailed information of life and people and their way of living in the 1700’s. Tourism to Sea Lapland, even today, is inspired by these great works.

Iisakki Mustaparta, Isaac Blackbeard, hero of the people in Tornio

Iisakki Mustaparta, born in 1751, was a peasant from Oravaisensaari at the village of Vojakkala, a few kilometres north from the city of Tornio. Together with the peasantry in his neighbourhood he built a decked ship to transport tar to Stockholm, bringing a cargo of grain on his return back north.

Mustaparta and his men were declared outlawed, imprisoned and thrown into a stinking jail in Stockholm. Mustaparta, instead of giving up, went ahead to prove the legality of his actions. Eventually he was to become the delegate to the Parliament in Stockholm, defending the rights of the peasantry, and was nicknamed Robin Hood of the North.

The story of Iisakki Mustaparta is alive and flourishing at the Restaurant Mustaparran Päämaja (Blackbeard’s Headquarters). The maritime interior decoration depicts the feel of the 1700’s, the crystal chandeliers adding a taste of Royal glamour. The delicacies of the Tornio Valley are served on a plank and drinks are enjoyed from a clay mug, just as Iisakki would have done. The scent of the tar around, with the taste of the holy grass and buckthorn in your mouth – what an enjoyable time-travel to be remembered!