University Seal Helsinki (Turku)

Turku, Finland’s oldest city received its name in the 13th century from an old Russian word meaning ‘marketplace’. Turku was also the largest city of Finland, in those days a state inside Sweden. Both Swedish and Finnish were spoken in Turku. In Swedish Turku is called Abo.


© Photo: Wikipedia placed in public domain
A brief history:
  • The third university of the Swedish empire was founded in 1640 by Queen Christina of Sweden. It received the name ‘Royal Academy of Turku’.
  • Finland became an autonomous grand duchy inside the Russian Empire in 1809.
  • A fire destroyed Turku in 1827. The capital city and the university were moved to Helsinki. The name was changed by Tsar Nicholas I to ‘Emperor Alexander University of Finland’ in honour of his deceased brother, Tsar Alexander I of Russia.
  • The chief building was designed by Carl Ludwig Engel. It was built between 1828 and 1832, and was extended afterwards.
  • Upon Finland’s independence the name of the university changed to ‘University of Helsinki’.

The Seal

On the seal we see the Latin text: Sigillum Academia Regia Aboensis (Aboensis is the Latin word for Abo); the year of the establishment in 1640 and a Bible text Zechariah 6:8, referring to ‘the land of the North’.

We can see the tetragrammaton under the crown. It is worthy of mention that in a later seal of the Helsinki University the tetragrammaton and the Bible text are still used.


- top -