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Kultaranta @ Finland

 

Kultaranta is the official Summer Residence of the President of the Republic of Finland. It is located on the serene island of Luonnonmaa in Naantali on the south-west coast of Finland. The President lives and works there from mid-June to mid-August.

The estate surrounding the villa contains a large park and a garden, covers 54 hectares and has about forty residential and other buildings on it. The main building, standing on a high rocky outcrop, was designed by eminent architect Lars Sonck.

History

Kultaranta’s Swedish name ‘Gullranda’ originally referred to a village on the eastern shoreline of the island Luonnonmaa.

The earliest mention of the village in the historical chronicles dates from the 15th century. The lands of Kultaranta have had several owners in the course of the centuries, including the Brigittine Convent in Naantali and then renowned the Fleming family. At an auction in 1906 the Rauma Merchant Johan Wilhelm Valtonen bought an estate, then called Alitalo, on the lands where Kultaranta now stands. In 1917, Alfred Kordelin had bequeathed his wealth to provide the endowment capital of a new cultural fund, and envisaged Kultaranta becoming a museum.

However, Kordelin’s acquisition of an art collection had remained uncompleted, in addition to which maintaining the estate proved expensive and very laborious. The committee appointed as executors of his will decided to make a gift of the estate to the Finnish University of Turku Society, which initially planned to build a research and teaching centre for natural sciences. This plan did not come to fruition, since access to the island was not easy.

In the year of 1922, the Society swapped Kultaranta for the State-owned Iso-Heikkila estate in the village of Maaria, and Kultaranta was made the President’s official summer residence by decision of the National Parliament, the Eduskunta. The State later purchased adjoining lands and added them to the estate surrounding the villa.

Access to Kultaranta was by canoe only until the early 1930’s, when a bridge was built over the strait separating the island from the mainland.

Villa Kultaranta

The main building of Kultaranta, now a grey-granite mansion, stands at the highest point of a rocky promontory. Alfred Kordelin chose the renowned architect Lars Sonck to design his villa, instructing him to create “a monumental summer castle, which would be at the same time a kind of museum and art collection”.

Kordelin originally wanted to have the building lower down at the seashore, but Sonck persuaded him to change his plans and put it on the rock outcrop, which commands superb views of the sea and Naantali. Villa Kultaranta was built in 1913-1916. The park was landscaped and the greenhouse builts at the same time.

The villa with its flat roof and tall tower is an example of Sonck’s architecture in Jugendstil-Classical period. Semi-circular bay windows and balconies as well as the colonnade on the main façade soften its castle-like expression. The villa has nineteen rooms with a total floor area of approx.six hundred and fifty square meters. The lower floor contains reception areas and the President’s study, the upper floor living quarters and guest rooms. The most valuable and impressive works of art in villa are Antti-Faven’s Picnic, Helene Schjerfbeck’s Churchgoers, and Pekka Halonen’s Women in a boat.

Villa Kultaranta’s Gardens: Park (Mini-Versailles) & Chain

Kultaranta’s extensive grounds have three constituent parts: the park, which is sometimes described as a “mini-Versailles” and the gardens. The most striking part of the park is its ornamental garden, which is laid out in the symmetrical pattern typical of the classical Baroque style. Steep steps lead down from the villa to the garden’s most central formation, which is called the Medallion. Beyond the pergola, the Medallion continues southwards as an avenue lined with stately aspens and flower beds. Alongside the Medallion runs a more modern garden formation called the Chain. It was designed by the garden architect Maj-Lis Rosenbroijer when the gardens were extended in 1964.

Summer @ Kultaranta

All Presidents of Finland have spend their summers at Kultaranta usually from mid-June to mid-August. The President works and receives visitors there according to a normal daily schedule. The members of the government travel to Naantali for the presidential sessions that take place during the summer.

{Prof. Gupta & Mr Jain have compiled article for Just in Print based on series of correspondences and information exchanged with  Office of President of The Republic of Finland, Helsinki*

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