Named for Queen Kristina of Sweden, Kristinestad (Finnish: Kristiinankaupunki) was founded in the mid-17th century by maverick count Per Brahe. It was once a booming ship-building centre and a port for shipping tar and timber out of the Pohjanmaa region. These days, it’s a sleepy little spot sustained by potato farming. But its maritime roots are still evident in the picturesque seaside town centre. Here, grand Empire-style merchant buildings adorn the grid-like roads, along with the 17th-century church and customs house. Around 300 historic wooden houses line the narrow lanes further inland.
In 2011 Kristinestad became Finland’s first ‘Cittaslow’ town. An extension of the Slow Food movement, Slow Cities aims to rebalance the hectic pace of modern life – not only with 'ecogastronomy' but also with local arts, crafts, nature, cultural traditions and heritage.