More places for dining in Rovaniemi

In my post from October 19th I mentioned some of the restaurants where to have a good meal in Rovaniemi. Of course those were not all; there are many more restaurants also worth mentioning. That is why I continue my restaurant grand tour here.

The cozy restaurant of City hotel; MonteRosa, is one of my favorite restaurants in the city center of Rovaniemi, on Pekankatu 9. The City hotel is a 4-star hotel with 90 rooms. On the first floor you find the atmosphere-rich MonteRosa restaurant, where the friendly staff prepares and serves a variety of local but also international culinary delights. (Some of them look a bit suspicious….though, as on the picture below… but very tasty, indeed)

IMG_2117 IMG_2118

 

Outside the restaurant, on the pedestrian street, there is a special waiting pole for reindeer, where the sami can leave his reindeer while he is inside dining.

 

IMG_2120

Also worth mentioning is that you can always book your adventure safaris in the hotel receptions of Rovaniemi. If you want to go for a reindeer or husky safari or on a snowmobile safari you just contact the hotel reception. All transportation, warm clothes and other equipment will be taken care of for you. You just have to show up in the lobby in time to be picked up.

header_1

The restaurant Fransmanni in Rovaniemi belongs to a chain of restaurants all over Finland and the menu is very long….with both meat and fish courses and many delicious desserts (not very locally inspired in my point of view: ice creams and Crème Brûlées, but very tasty, indeed. Last time I visited I had the fish course Grilled salmon from the north of Lapland. Delicious!

IMG_2445

Hotel Santa Claus with the restaurant Gaissa  does not provide menus in English, so I do not feel like mentioning it here. Bar & Grill ZoomUp in the Santa Claus hotel serves a delicious lunch buffet every week day.

The unique atmosphere of the Restaurant Santamus at the Arctic Circle offers its visitors several unforgettable experiences. During the visit all your five senses will get tempted. Santamus is a restaurant of sensations with delicious local food and an atmosphere unlike anywhere else. Many visitors have experienced an unforgettable evening here during the years. The restaurant takes up to 150 guests. The only sad thing is that you have to be part of a group to book a dinner at Santamus. It is only a so-called special orders’ restaurant. But – during a few weeks just before Christmas they arrange dinners to which you can book places for one, two or more persons. They call them public nights and they serve a Get together-menu at those nights. If you want to experience an unforgettable dinner at Santamus you should check out the dates for these special public nights in the calendar on their home page.

santamus-portti

Finally, I want to mention the DVD with Santa Claus’ secrets. You can buy it online from Santa’s shop or from the shops on the Arctic Circle during your visit in Rovaniemi. The DVD reveals many secrets of Santa that you so far never even heard of. On the DVD there are options for at least 8 languages.

Santas_secrets_DVD_m

 

Where to eat a good meal in Rovaniemi

During a stay in the heart of Lapland, Rovaniemi, you will probably get hungry eventually, and why not then try some local Lappish food. But where could you find just that special Lappish, delicious meal?

The typical Lappish restaurant Nili downtown Rovaniemi is definitely worth a visit if you are out for the special atmosphere and local food. The restaurant is not big, but very cosy inside and while waiting for your ordered meals, you could admire all the typical Lappish decorations and items on the walls inside the restaurant. It is always good to make a booking before going there because the restaurant is popular and not really big. Check also out the opening hours. A visit to restaurant Nili is a combination of tastes, scents and atmosphere. In the restaurant you can watch the chefs preparing your meal through the open kitchen shutters.

The tasty portions will not leave you hungry. On the menu you will always find for instance fish caught in the pure Lappish lakes or reindeer, bear and berries. If you feel a little unsure what to eat, there are menusuggestions on the home page of Nili. You will definitely get an interesting eating experience there. It is not a low-budget restaurant, but I think the food and the atmosphere are worth the price. Actually, here I saw some years ago, for the first time, people taking photographs of the meals. Two Chinese girls took pictures before they started eating, and I found it kind of amusing at that time. Nowadays I myself, and many others, use to take pictures all the time of nicely served dinners.

IMG_6949 IMG_6950 IMG_6952

The word Nili is a Finnish word for a little building where people used to store their food out of reach for animals in former days in Finland.

niliaitta

In the year 2011 Nili restaurant was voted the 37th best restaurant in Finland and the same year the Lapland hotel Sky Ounasvaara restaurant in Rovaniemi was voted the 34th best restaurant in Finland. This is a Chaîne de Rôtisseurs-awarded panoramic restaurant.

In the restaurant on top of the Ounasvaara fell near the city center of Rovaniemi you can admire the stunning natural scenery in front of you while enjoying a perfect meal. Here you can get the “Rovaniemi menu”, meaning it is food prepared according to Lapland’s own cooking traditions. Clean, pure taste experiences and delectable raw materials which vary according to the season are dynamically served here.

skyhotel dessert skyhotel food skyhotel restaurantIMG_5180

If you want to have a meal with traditional sautéed reindeer, you should stop by at Reindeer Cafe Restaurant Sirmakko at the Arctic circle. It is open in winter- and summer seasons. They serve well done tasty reindeer meat from their own farm near by. You can also get french fries and burgers here, but I suggest you to taste reindeer with mashed potatoes. Absolutely delicious! I eat sautéed reindeer always when possible. In Lapland you can be sure you get a tender, well prepared reindeer.

IMG_2880 IMG_2862

Sirmakko is the Lappish word for a reindeer calf, who is more cheery than other calves in the herd.

During Christmas time there are special Christmas menus in the restaurants in Rovaniemi. One of the most popular Christmas buffets is served at the legendary Pohjanhovi Hotel by the Lumberjack bridge in Rovaniemi. The buffet consists of up to 60 different traditional Finnish Christmas dishes. You can check out the different dishes here. (I hope they will update the page soon). The varieties of fish prepared in different ways are very popular, especially jellied salmon. The baked, salted ham is the crown of the Finnish Christmas meal and it is eaten with oven baked potato and swede casseroles. The Christmas buffet is served from mid-November to mid-December. Check out the opening hours. There are 500 places in this restaurant.

Pohjanhovirantasipi_pikkujoulut_315x225_pohjanhovi

Pohjanhovi Hotel opened on September 12th in 1936 and its nationally famous restaurant has already celebrated its 70th anniversary. The original Pohjanhovi was an impressive building but is was destroyed in the WW II as many of the buildings in Rovaniemi. A new one rose from the ashes to reopen in 1947. This legendary place fills up in January every year for the Arctic Lapland Rally.

 

 

The legend of Saana and Malla fells in Kilpisjarvi

In the upper north-west of Finland the country is like an “arm” between the Swedish and the Norwegian border. This area is where the highest fells of Finland are situated. On the Swedish and the Norwegian sides of the border are even higher fells and this area is amazingly beautiful all year around. Every season has its charm and beauty here. I use to go ice-fishing in this area in spring time.

As it has snowed the past week in Lapland for the first time this autumn, I think it is suitable to show you some winter pictures now in the beginning of winter. You can check out the snow situation in Kilpisjarvi here.

karta kilpisjarviIMG_3711

If you visit the little village of Kilpisjarvi in Finland you are just 7 km from the crossing of the border to Norway. Kilpisjarvi is a very small village, and its known history is young. The first permanent inhabitants came to the village as late as 1915. Anyway, nothing remains from those years, since it all was demolished in the Lapland War 1944-1945. In the end of WW 2 Finland had to drive the former allies, the German forces, away. The Germans retreated towards north and then to Norway. German forces burnt everything behind them. This retreat and burning of structures left behind is called Lapland War. The road to and from Kilpisjarvi was much improved during the war because during the WW 1 (1914-1918) large amounts of war materials were transported through Kilpisjarvi to vicinity of Tornio. All this material was meant for the Russian front. At the most, between 1915-1916, 1400 horses were in duty to transport military materials on this road. This road, the Northern light road, is the only road in this area, so the Swedes and the Norwegians also use this road for transports to their fells. Kilpisjarvi is a very popular village to Norwegians and they spend holidays here both in summer and in winter time.

Treriksröset (in Swedish), Treriksrøysa (in Norwegian), Kolmen valtakunnan rajapyykki (in Finnish) is the special point at which the borders of Sweden, Norway and Finland meet.

TreriksThe name can be translated into English as “Three-Country Cairn”, and is named for the monument of stones erected in 1897 by the governments of Norway and Russia (which was administering Finland at that time). The Swedish could not agree on a boundary commission with the Norwegians and did not bring their stone until 1901. This is Sweden’s most northerly point and it is the westernmost point of the Finnish mainland.

The location of Treriksröset

It is reached by walking 11 kilometres from Kilpisjarvi on a public road. In summertime it can be reached by boat from Kilpisjarvi plus a 3 kilometres walk.

IMG_3698To drive from Rovaniemi to Kilpisjarvi by car takes about 5-6 hours. You drive along the Northern Light route and before you end up in Kilpisjarvi you will pass by a place called Muotkatakka. This is where the highest situated road in Finland is. It is on 565,6 meter above the sea level. On this place, Muotkatakka, you can also find a monument that tells you this is the place where the last cannon shots against the retreating German forces were shot in the Lapland War in 27.4.1945.

After you have been on the highest place of the road, the road starts to go down again and finally you will see a silhouette of a fell that is nothing like the surrounding fells at all. This is the fell Saana and the little Kilpisjarvi village is situated at the foot of Saana fell by the Kilpisjarvi lake. On the opposite shore of Kilpisjarvi lake is the border to Sweden. .

IMG_1743 IMG_1755

Saana has received its name from the word of Saami language meaning a certain mushroom. From one angle the fell does look like a mushroom. Some people think it looks like an overturned boat with a keel. For the Saami people it is a sacred mountain. Fires were burned to the God of Thunder on top of it. The peak is 1029 meters above sea level and 556 meters up from the Kilpisjarvi lake’s surface. Saana is the 25th tallest fell in Finland, but second most known because of its impressive shape.

According to the legend – long ago Kilpisjarvi area was inhabited by giants. Sullen Saana (the fell) got a crush on lovely Malla (the fell next to Saana). On the wedding day Pältsä (that is a fell on the Swedish side of the border) wanted to stop the wedding ceremony. He had found out he was also in love with Malla. The wedding ceremony would have been held by Paras (a fell on the Norwegian side of the border), and he was known as the magician. But Pältsä had called the evil elderly women of Lapland to come to Kilpisjarvi. All of a sudden a fierce northern wind wiped all the celebrants with ice-cold wind. Very soon the area was frozen and filled with ice. At the last moment, Saana pushed the lovely Malla over to her mother’s, Big Malla’s arms. (There are two Malla fells just near one another). At that moment the freezing cold took away all life in the area. Malla cried, and from her tears Kilpisjarvi – the lake was formed. The lake is situated in between Saana and Malla fells.

IMG_3702IMG_1744IMG_2599

Read more about the area around Saana fell here.

 

 

Rovaniemi web cameras

If you are interested, you can see what is going on in Rovaniemi at any time of the day or night at all year around via web cameras, placed on several places in the city and at the Arctic Circle. Even Santa Claus has his own web camera! On the map you can also view the panorama pictures by changing the viewing angle by holding the mouse button down and moving the cursor horizontally.

The camera on Lordi Square shows the life in the city and from the place where several major events take place. Specially around Christmas you can follow the Christmas market going on on the Square. (In case you do not know what Lordi stands for: Lordi is a monstrous rock group that took part in the Eurovision Song Contest in May 2006 with the song “Hard rock Hallelujah“, and won the whole Contest. The lead singer of Lordi; even called Mr Lordi himself was born in Rovaniemi. The winning of this Contest is such a big thing in Finland – it never happened before – so the city of Rovaniemi decided to name the main square in the city the Lordi Square after this group.)

lordi_group_03_web-120x120                    IMG_2855 IMG_2857

The camera at the City Hall shows the buildings of architect Alvar Aalto and the park around the City Hall, the Library and the Lappia House.

OunasvaaraThe two Ounasvaara cameras show skiing conditions for the ski stadium and the ski jumping arena during changing seasons.

kamera3_00001The camera at the church shows a view over the Kemijoki bridges on the Kemijoki river and the camera on Rovakatu shows a view from one of the main street in Rovaniemi.

I myself used to check out the views over the city before I even visited Rovaniemi for the first time. After I had moved there, I once made a phone call while standing on the Lordi Square and the one I phoned could open the computer and see me standing there.

IMG_1389

All over Lapland there are also road cameras, ruled by the Liikennevirasto, the Finnish Transport Agency, in Finland, so you can check the conditions of the roads if you are going to travel in Lapland. Just click on a camera where you are going and you will see if there is a lot of snow or not on the road. This is how the road looks in Rovaniemi at this very moment. Exciting or what? Almost like you visit Rovaniemi yourself.

 

Rovaniemi church – a landmark of post-war construction

15.9.2006 KirkkoThe present Church of Rovaniemi was completed in 1950. The former church, a wooden church built in 1817, was burnt down by German soldiers on October 16th, 1944 during WWII. The new church is situated on the same place where the former church stood. The construction of a new church so soon after the Second World War would scarcely have been possible without major financial help from the Lutheran churches in the United States and Sweden  It is considered a landmark of  post-war construction in Rovaniemi.

On the church yard nearby there are memorials from church buildings on the same place from 1632 and 1688, too.

The Church was designed by architect Bertel Liljequist (1885-1954). He is known for designing several churches in Finland. The walls of Rovaniemi church are made of bricks and the roof is copper. On top of the roof of the tower there is a red, glowing cross you can see from a distance from the church. There are seats for 850 people in the church.

Elämän lähdeThe 14 metre-high fresco painting “Fountain of Life” on the altar wall was painted by professor Lennart Segerstråle (1892-1975) in 1951. Lennart Segerstråle was known for painting several frescos to churches. The fresco “Fountain of Life” is a huge painting, it dominates the choir wall. The painting is showing life from birth to death and it pictures also different natures of human beings; the evils and the good-hearted. I like to sit and just admire the fresco painting, an I always find something new I have not seen before. It took Lennart Segerstråle and his co-workers four months to finish the fresco.

Gunnar Uotila2Other glass works and sculptures in the church are made of Antti Salmenlinna (1897-1968) and Gunnar Uotila (1913-1997). Gunnar Uotila was a wood sculptor and his sculpture in Rovaniemi church is a Lappish swan feeding its nestlings. It is a symbol of how God takes care of us; his disciples.

 

rovaniemen_kirkon_urut_56.jpg-243x162The organ of the church has 45 registers and it was designed and constructed by the Bruno Christensen factory in Denmark in 1987. It has 4000 pipes.

The cemetery is beside the Church. 605 of the fallen of the WWII from the Parish of Rovaniemi are resting in peace there. The monument for war heroes was designed by Professor Wäinö Aaltonen, dedicated to those sacrificed in the war.

At the far end of the cemetery there is a monument commemorating those who died and were buried in Sweden during the evacuation of the civilian population. 20.000 people were evacuated from Rovaniemi to Sweden in autumn 1944. The memorial was designed by Ensio Seppänen. You can read more about the memorials in former texts here in my blog about memorials in Rovaniemi. You can also follow the links above.

IMG_6814

 

Art, architecture and memorials in Rovaniemi, part 4

The Lumberjack theme is remarkable in Rovaniemi as the huge Lumberjack Candle Bridge rises high as it provides a possibility to cross the river between Ounasvaara on the eastern side of Kemijoki and the city center on the western side. The Lumberjack Candle Bridge is Finland’s first cable-stayed bridge, finished in 1989. It has a tension span of 126 meters.

IMG_3103

IMG_3107The name Lumberjack recalls the era of the log floating and it is a tribute to lumberjacks. A lumberjack was a forest worker working with untiring zeal and their lives were exceptionally hard. The era lasted for about 100 years and ended in the 1960ies. Before machined transportation became widespread timber was hauled from the forests to the saw mills and factories on the river by floating. This work was important to the people along the river for decades and had a great impact on the life of Rovaniemi city for decades. Near the Lumberjack Candle Bridge, in the Jätkänpuisto park, stands a statue of a lumberjack made of Kalervo Kallio (1909-1969) in 1955. This is an important statue for Rovaniemi and celebrations around Workers’ Day on May 1st take place around this statue every year.

You can learn more about the hard conditions of the lumberjacks at the Forestry Museum of Lapland in Rovaniemi. The Forestry Museum of Lapland saves, researches, maintains and presents the cultural heritage of Lapland’s forestry history. This is the only museum in the world that concentrates on fostering the history of forest work in Finnish Lapland.

IMG_3962The public work “Milk, the Start to Life” made by Ensio Seppänen (1924-2008) in 1984 stands in the park on the eastern side of Kemijoki opposite to the city center of Rovaniemi. The statue was erected by Lapland Agricultural Center and it features historically accurate costumes and tools in a way typical of the artist.

Ruotsin_evakot_1

During the WWII in 1944 the population of Rovaniemi was evacuated to Sweden to be safe. Ensio Seppänen has also made the sculpture for the memorial of the evacuation. The sculpture standing on the first cemetery of Rovaniemi was erected in 1965 in honor of the 279 members of Rovaniemi church deceased in Sweden during the evacuation.

 

 

 

 

Art, architecture and memorials in Rovaniemi, part 3

In this part 3 of public works of art in Rovaniemi I want to point out the female sculptors Laila Pullinen, Kirsti Liimatainen and Hannele Kylänpää and also the male sculptor Kain Tapper. They are all Finnish artists born in the 2000-century. I am glad there are at least a few public works made of women among the around 40 public works you can find in Rovaniemi.

IMG_8393Laila Pullinen was born in 1933 and her bronze work “Primavera” from 1964 is her first public work. You can find it hidden in a small square in Ainonkulma near the crossing of Poromiehentie and Ainonkatu in Rovaniemi. Primavera means “spring” in Italian language. The work is influenced by the painting Primavera of an Italian painter Botticelli in 1478. In his work there are three dancers but in Laila Pullinen’s work there are two abstract female dancers. Their heads are left away and their dresses are waving from the movement from the dance. Each one of the dancers are equipped with one real foot, though. This work represents Informalism or abstract expressionism, in the 1960ies.

IMG_8119Kristi Liimatainen (1901-1964) was born in Tampere, Finland. She is mostly known as a postcard painter. She preferred religious themes in her works. Her statue “Karjala” is a memorial to the fallen soldiers whose carcasses remained in the part of Finland, Karjala, that were to be given to Russia according to the peace agreements in 1944. She has made similar memorials to other cities of Finland, Haapamäki, Jämsä and Nokia, too.

The Karjala statue is made of red granite and stands in the Ruokasen Park near Ruokasenkatu in Rovaniemi. On the statue there is the text: “Tää on kosketus kotoa kallihista Karjalasta omalta oloperältä yhteistyön yrittämältä.”, translated something like “The touch of the home in Karjala”.

IMG_8121The work of Hannele Kylänpää (born in 1948) stands outside the Administration center of Lapland’s county along Valtakatu in Rovaniemi. It is a 7 meter high bronze statue named “Mother Lapland” from 1989. This work is well representing Hannele Kylänpää. She mostly do people, children and animals in her works; living lives are her favorite objects.

 

 

 

A startling work in Rovaniemi is the one made of the Finnish sculptor Kain Tapper (1930-2004) in 1988. The work “Birth of a Mountain” fills a big part of the square outside the Administrative & Cultural Center of Rovaniemi. It is a 120 meter long and it grows from the ground (the grass) in the beginning up to a 2,3 meter high work in the end. It is one of the largest public works in Finland. Kain Tapper was the winner of an art competition, arranged in 1987 by the Rovaniemi city, which intentions were to find a representative work to put in front of the Administrative & Cultural Centre with the town hall and the library that the architect Alvar Aalto finished in 1975. The work is made from red granite, Ounasvaara stone, soil and grass. Birth of a Mountain reflects from one direction the rise of Rovaniemi after the war and when viewed from the opposite direction, it reflects the decay of people and buildings.

IMG_8860

 

 

Art, architecture and memorials in Rovaniemi, part 2

As I told you earlier Rovaniemi has many memorials from the WWII 1939-1944 due to the fact that the war has had a great impact on what Rovaniemi is today. I will show you some of them here.

IMG_8853The Brothers in Arms Chain -statue is a memorial to the Swedish and Norwegian volunteers, who fought for Finland during the Winter War in 1939-1940. The statue is made by the Swedish sculptor Bengt Lissegårdh (1912-1979) in 1964, and stands in the Park on Pohjolankatu in Rovaniemi. It is amazing how strongly the enormous chain is put together and stands still.

The “Monument to the Reconstruction of Lapland 1944-1955” is a symbol for how Rovaniemi has risen from the ashes after being burnt down by the German soldiers in 1944, to the town it is today; a young and dynamic city. The sculptor Kari Huhtamo was born in 1943 in Rovaniemi. He has made more than 40 public works all over Finland and is also well-known abroad and even in Russia. This statue is made of clear stainless steel in 1977. At the time the statue was brought to Rovaniemi the inhabitants were a bit critical to it and it got a nick-name: the pigeons’ radar. I think this piece of art is beautiful and you can find it near the railway station in the slope between Ratakatu and Pohjolankatu, where it gives a very nice welcoming to the arriving guests of Rovaniemi.

IMG_885586_antink_v

 

Kati Huhtamo has also made the smaller work “Antinkulma” on the wall of Rovakatu 32. This he made in 1986. I have always thought this piece of art reminds me of a human face profile. But the explanation is that it is a symbol of abstract and non-material reality.

Pro_Patria_1An artist with more realistic looking works is the Finnish sculptor Wäinö Aaltonen (1894-1966). He has used granite in many of his works. As Wäinö Aaltonen himself has experienced the wars WWI and WWII himself they have influenced him to do memorials of the wars. After the Peace as many other sculptors of Finland he got a lot of orders to make memorials to public places all over the country. On the cemetery of Rovaniemi stands his statue Pro Patria as a symbol for the 604 fallen soldiers from Rovaniemi in the war 1939-1945.

IMG_8120

The graphic designer and heraldic Olaf Eriksson (1911-1987) has designed the memorial of the “6th Division” during the war in 1941. The memorial of quartzite stone was risen 1981 at Valtakatu in Rovaniemi.

IMG_7045A memorial of the peace in 1917 is the stone work “Broken Irons” (my own translation) of Ensio Seppänen (1924-2008). He was born in Kemijärvi in Lapland. The work from 1981 symbolizes the obtained freedom from Russia and is a memorial of the Jaeger movement in Finland at that time. The stone in the middle symbolizes the independent Finland rising and separating from Russian dominion. It stands in Jääkäripuisto in Rovaniemi at Lapinkävijäntie.

In my next chapter – part 3 – I will tell you about the female sculptors who have their works standing in Rovaniemi and also about the pieces of art at the Administrative Center of Rovaniemi.

Art, architecture and memorials in Rovaniemi, part 1

Rovaniemi is a city with many memorials from the war 1939-1944. The city was actually burnt down in the end of the war and that has had a great impact on the city. There are many memorials for the struggling and rebuilding that went on during the war and after that, but also how people used to make an effort for surviving in the hard circumstances in Lapland in those days. As I walked around in the city I felt the thankfulness that fills the city as the war is finally over and the rebuilding could take place and all the hope for at better future people had in those days. In the city of Rovaniemi you can find up to 45 pieces of art in the parks and on other public places..

The first you see as you arrive to the airport of Rovaniemi is “The Reindeer of Christmas Land” sculpture. The artist Urpo Kärri was born in Lappeenranta in the south of Finland, but moved to Kemijärvi in Lapland around 1960. At the beginning he worked with wood in his art and he has also created the altarpiece “Miserere” in the Ounasjoki chapel. He is also known as an ice- and snow sculptor, who has taken part in many international snowsculpture-competitions. Besides “The Reindeer of Christmas Land” Kärri has also created the “Clearing and Reconstruction” memorial in Rovaniemi.

“The Reindeer of Christmas Land” sculpture he made in 1995-1996. It features eight reindeer. The coats of the reindeer crafted from steel are made more lively with Bohemian crystals and steel stars moving in the wind. You can both see and hear the steel stars moving. The reindeer rise from the ground to stand on their hind feet, as if they are about to take an immense leap towards the sky. This sculpture is the symbol of tourism trade in Rovaniemi. From the same sculpture the city of Rovaniemi has made give-away pins also.

The “Clearing and Reconstruction” sculpture stands in Uitonpuisto near the Ounaskoski bridge on the church side of the river. Kärri made the sculpture in 1990 and it is themed on the activities of the Pioneers during the Lapland War and later re-construction. The work is made from slate, stainless steel and mirrors.

IMG_6954aIMG_3116

poropins

Another artist who has made a great impact on Rovaniemi is the well-known Finnish architect Alvar Aalto. After the war in 1944 he created the famous reindeer-antler plan of Rovaniemi city. From that plan the city started to grow after the war.

asemakaava_vanha

Alvar Aalto (3 February 1898 – 11 May 1976) was a Finnish architect and designer. His work includes architecture, furniture, textiles and glassware. Aalto’s early career runs in parallel with the rapid economic growth and industrialization of Finland during the first half of the twentieth century. What is typical for his entire career, however, is a concern for design as a total work of art; whereby he – together with his first wife Aino Aalto – would design not just the building, but give special treatments to the interior surfaces and design furniture, lamps, and furnishings and glassware. The Alvar Aalto Museum, designed by Aalto himself, is located in what is regarded as his home city Jyväskylä.

In Rovaniemi he designed also the Culture and administration center with the “Lappia House” all finished in 1975. The Culture and Administration Center holds the Administrative offices and the library. The Lappia House holds the Rovaniemi theatre, concert and congress hall. The lines of the roofs have been often compared with the mountain scenery of Lapland. Light whites and blues dominate the building both outside and in furnishing. The floor material of the entrance hall and the staircase leading to the foyer is limestone from Loue – Lappish marble. In the evenings the roof of the Lappia House is lightened with changing colors of blue, green and red.

IMG_1398IMG_8861

Alvar Aalto has also made the sculpture “Aurora Borealis” that was hanging on the wall of the building at Koskikatu 18-20. For the moment the sculpture is removed from the wall because of some reconstruction measures. The bronze sculpture portrays the Northern Lights. Architect Aalto has also designed and built the house and he typically then designed the works of art for his own buildings because he did not want to disconnect his works of art from his architecture.

IMG_7046

 

 

The Arctic Circle Hiking Area for all year around use

As you drive about 20 km to the northeast along highway 4 from Rovaniemi towards Sodankylä you find the Arctic circle hiking area with Vaattunkiköngäs, Vikaköngäs and Vikajärvi. It is an area managed by Metsähallitus of Finland. It is about 36 km2 big and it is just a perfect area to visit when you long for pure nature experiences but you do not want to go away for a long time, and you want to return home in the evening. There are several marked trails suitable for day trips in the area.

Map of the surroundings of Arctic Circle Hiking AreaI visit the Vaattunkiköngäs many times a year. I want to visit it all year around in different times and enjoy at least autumn, winter and spring there. You reach the parking area for Vaattunkiköngäs as you turn right on your way towards Sodankylä approx. 20 km from Rovaniemi. There are informative signs that tell  you when to turn. Drive about 2 km from highway 4 and you will end up in a perfect parking area with information like maps and descriptions of the hiking paths starting from there. There are also toilets and waste recycling points.

IMG_7190Hiking and camping are allowed in Finland due to Everyman’s Rights, but at the Arctic circle hiking area you are recommended to camp in the vicinity of campfire sites and other rest spots. The area is mostly visited during the summer and when there is only little snow. But as the area is visited by so many people all the time I have managed to visit it also in the middle of winter because there are paths in the snow made by other visitors and they are easy to walk. In the summer and spring you can pick berries and mushrooms  here.

IMG_7187

IMG_7189
My favorite time of the year for a visit at Vaattunkiköngäs is spring. During spring floods in late April and early May part of the duckboards in the area may be under water due to the melting snow. But as the snow  has melted you can safely walk the duckboards around the area.

IMG_2171

After starting from the parking area you first of all cross the Raudanjoki river on a hanging bridge. The river has several rapids used for rafting and kayaking. You walk along the Könkäänsaari trail of duckboards and you can stop by and read on the information boards about the surrounding nature with its birds and animals. Soon you will end up at the Könkäänsaari lean-to-shelter, where you can set a fire and fry you own sausages or just rest before you continue. Along the trails there are several rest points. There are dry toilets at each rest spot. The trail from Vaattunkiköngäs to Könkäänsaari is suited for disabled visitors during the snowfree season. The Könkäänsaari lean-to shelter has also been designed for the disabled. The trail has been classified as a demanding wheelchair route.

IMG_2183

IMG_2180The Arctic circle hiking area is made up of several parts which are in their natural state and very wilderness-like. On one hand there are the rapid areas of the river and on the other hand there are parts of the river with still water. In the different areas you can become acquainted with the region’s typical plant and animal species on special information boards along the trail. As the area is not situated near the road there are no disturbing noises from cars. In spring time you can enjoy the hundreds of bird species singing in the area.

In spring you can find an adorable yellow flower there. It is the Globe-flower (Kullero); a Lappish flower I did not know existed before I came to Lapland. It grows only occasionally in the south of Finland, but is very common here in Lapland in spring time.

IMG_2191Kullero-Smörboll

 

The Globe-flower shines like a sun and only the sight of it makes you happy.

A visit in winter time has its own specials, like campfire where you can warm your toes or fingers and fry your own sausage. The Metsähallitus provides all the lean-on-shelters with wood all year around. You can just pick from the fire-wood store and set the fire. But be careful with the fire and extinguish the fire as you leave the shelter.

IMG_6522 IMG_6524

Expecting brown bear cubs in Ranua Wildlife Park?

I use to visit the Ranua zoo several times a year. I love to see the animals and their actions at different times of the year. In winter there are many active animals in the zoo, because this is an arctic animal zoo with animals from the region of Lapland, and so they are used to winter. During the winter the animals are more active while they during the summer season often are feeling a little dizzy because of the heat during the days and are mostly resting during the visitors’ time.

IMG_0523

When I visit the zoo during the winter seasons one animal is not to be seen at all. That is the brown bear. The brown bears in the nature are sleeping winter hibernation during the winter, and so are the brown bears in Ranua zoo. They use to go to sleep in November and wake up in the beginning of March. This year the brown bears woke up already in February. The staff in the zoo thinks the early wake-up is caused by the big amount of visitors who came to look at the polar bear cub, Ranzo, and the noise spread in to the dens of the brown bears. Read more about Ranzo in my post about the polar bears. Here is a link from Jehu’s first meeting with the snow in 2011.

IMG_2774

I visited the zoo in the beginning of May. At the moment there are three brown bears living in Ranua. They are the old Palle-Jooseppi and his son Jehu, 3 years old. Last spring Jehu got a girlfriend from another zoo in Finland, the Ähtäri zoo, and her name is Malla. Malla is four years old at the moment. The brown bears get sexually mature at the age of 4-5 years, so the expectations are high there would be one or two cubs in the den next spring when the bears wake up. The cubs are born in January-February. Here is the you tube-link from Malla’s first day in Ranua zoo last spring.

IMG_2777The possibilities for cubs in Ranua zoo next spring are quite high while Jehu and Malla spend a lot of time together and seem to get along quite well. Jehu is at the moment the last brown bear born in this zoo. His mother, Doris, got sick and had to be put to sleep a couple of years ago. After Doris was gone a new female bear, also named Malla, was brought to the zoo. The staff wanted Malla and Palle-Jooseppi to get acquainted to each other and the two bears were put together in the same cage. But it turned out something about Malla irritated Palle-Jooseppi and he hit her and then caused her death.

Last spring as the new Malla-bear was brought to the zoo she was put together with Jehu immediately. She, however, got a bit scared of Jehu’s interest, so the staff had to put Jehu away for a while to “cool down”. But at the moment there are no problem whatsoever and the two young bears seem to get very well together, while Palle-Jooseppi spends his time alone in his own cage.

IMG_4184IMG_1903

The brown bear lives in the forests and mountains of northern North America, Europe, and Asia. The Finnish brown bear lives mainly in conifer forests. The brown bear, which is active during twilight, can also be seen searching for food during the day. Brown bears are usually solitary. The male and the female spend time together during mating season in the summer, and the mother usually lives with its growing cubs until the next cub is born. The female bear gives birth to new cubs approx. every three-year.

Adult brown bears are powerful, top-of-the-food chain predators, but much of their diet consists of nuts, berries, fruit, leaves, and roots. Bears also eat other animals, from rodents to moose. Last week there was a killed reindeer found just about a kilometer from the Santa Claus’ village outside Rovaniemi, most certainly killed by a bear. There is at the moment not so much other food to eat in the forest, unfortunately.

Despite their enormous size, brown bears are extremely fast, having been clocked at speeds of 30 miles per hour (48 kilometers per hour). They can be dangerous to humans, particularly if surprised or if a person gets between a mother bear and her cubs. Almost every year there are reports of bears seen too near habitations in the eastern parts of Finland. People have all reasons to be careful when they see a bear, even though the bears are very neat to look at and every child probably has a beloved teddy bear at home in their bed.

The bears could live to 25 years of age. The adult bears are 5 to 8 ft (1.5 to 2.5 m) tall and weight 700 lbs (318 kg). The male bear is bigger than the female bear.

 

The German soldiers’ cemetery at Norvajärvi

There is a German soldiers’ cemetery at Norvajärvi, 18 km north of Rovaniemi. It was founded on August 31, 1963. The mausoleum is the resting place for more than 2 500 Germans who fell in the World War II. As I had heard of this cemetery and never visited it, I the other day went to find out how it looked like. It was much bigger than I had imagined. The whole area and the mausoleum was a very peaceful and beautiful place heading to the lake of Norvajärvi.

It is easy to find the way to the cemetery. There are signs to show the way starting in Rovaniemi and from the parking area there is a 0,5 km walk along a sandy path. The mausoleum is visited by a lot of German tourists and relatives to the soldiers during the summer season, but also now in April there had been visitors putting flowers on the grave; supposedly they were also relatives. 

In the World War II about 15 000 German soldiers fell at the Finnish border. Most part of them are buried on Russian ground. There are two main cemeteries for German soldiers founded in Finland; one in Helsinki and one here at Norvajärvi, Lapland. There were all together about 200 000 German soldiers in Lapland during the Continuation War 1941-1944. IMG_2675

The area of this cemetery is about 16 000 m² on the shore of the lake Norvajärvi. As you enter the mausoleum you first find the statue named: “Mother and son”. A very touching sight. In the mausoleum there are 8 big boards with all the 2 500 names of the fallen German soldiers. In a book at the entry you can search for special names and find out on which of the boards they are to be found. It is an impressive amount of names carved on the boards! 

IMG_2679IMG_2677

 

On the shore of the lake there is a big iron cross and a place to sit down and gather thoughts and enjoy the peace of the area. The mausoleum is open to the public on April-September. 

IMG_2681 IMG_2683

 

A little history around the Lapland War (to be read only by those, who are interested in learning more about the Germans in Lapland):  

The Lapland War was fought between Finland and Nazi Germany from September 1944 to April 1945 in Lapland. A peculiarity of the war was that the Finnish army was forced by the Soviet Union to demobilize their forces while at the same time they were fighting to force the German army to leave Finland. German forces retreated to Norway, and Finland managed to uphold its obligations to the Soviet Union, until the formal conclusion of the Continuation War was ratified by the 1947 Paris peace treaty.

Germany and Finland had been at war with the Soviet Union since June 1941, co-operating closely in the Continuation War. However, as early as the summer of 1943, the German High Command began making plans for the eventuality that Finland might make a separate peace agreement with the Soviet Union. The Germans planned to withdraw their forces northward to shield the nickel mines near Petsamo. 

During the winter of 1943–1944, the Germans improved the roads from northern Norway to northern Finland by extensive use of prisoner of war -labour in certain areas. Casualties among these prisoners were high, in part because many of them had been captured in southern Europe and were still in summer uniform. In addition, the Germans surveyed defensive positions and made plans to evacuate as much material as possible from the region.

Change of Finnish leadership led the Germans already in early August 1944 to believe that Finland would attempt to make a separate agreement with the Soviet Union. The Finnish announcement of the cease-fire triggered frantic efforts in the German Army which immediately started material evacuations from Finland. Large amounts of material were evacuated from southern Finland and harsh punishments were set for any hindering of the withdrawal. 

By 15 September 1944 a secret agreement had been reached by which the Germans would make their withdrawal timetable known to the Finns, who would then allow the Germans to destroy roads, railroads and bridges. In practice, friction soon arose both from the destruction caused by the Germans and from the pressure exerted on the Finns by the Soviets, and there were several incidents between the armies.

At Rovaniemi the Germans initially concentrated mainly on destroying governmental buildings but once fire got loose they were forced to destroy several more. German attempts to fight the fire however failed and a train loaded with ammunition caught fire at Rovaniemi railroad station on 14 October resulting in a massive explosion which caused further destruction as well as spreading the fire throughout the primarily wooden buildings of the town. German attempts to fight the fire had failed by the time, on 16 October, they abandoned the now ruined town to the advancing Finns.

In the museum of Arktikum in Rovaniemi you can learn more about the Lapland War. 

 

 

 

 

 

The magical world of SantaPark in Lapland

A visit to SantaPark in Rovaniemi will surely be a memorable experience. As I visited the grotto for the first time I could not believe my eyes! The elves and Santa Claus and the fairy-tale around this world with its everlasting Christmas is so amazing! I keep returning to the cave on and on, together with family and friends and I think they also have got the real Christmas spirit from the visits in here. Most of the visitors are visitors from foreign countries, but Santa Claus would be happy to see more of his Finnish friends, too. There are elves all over the park with large language skills helping the visitors.

IMG_2901 IMG_8441

 

The walk from the entry of the Home Cavern of Santa Claus along the shadowy corridor down to the heart of the cavern is a walk that will fill you with expectations and no matter what age you are, you are little by little, step by step, transformed into someone, who definitely believes in Santa Claus and the stories around him.

SantaPark is an amusement park with Christmas theme open around Christmas from the end of November to the middle of January and also in the summer from the end of June to the middle of August.

The history around the foundation of SantaPark tells that Santa Claus once wandered around in the forest of Syväsenvaara just outside Rovaniemi in the sunshine of the nightless night in the summer and the beauty of the forest touched his heart very much. He then came up with the idea to build an underground network of caves here where he could welcome friends from all over the world.

IMG_0329 IMG_2139

IMG_2148

The first things you will see are the friendly welcoming smiles of some happy elves living down here. You can meet Santa himself in his own office, you can attend a 20 minute lasting Elf School, where the Professor Elf in person will teach you some ancient Elf skills and you can meet the cheerful Mrs Gingerbread in her Kitchen and help her to decorate an incredibly tasty gingerbread, made with the secret recipe of Mrs Claus.

IMG_2885

IMG_4470

There is also a magical train ready to take you on a magical journey through the four seasons of Finland ending up in the Toy Workshop, where elves are busy making gifts for Christmas. You can of course do your Christmas shopping from the Elves in the Shopping area before you leave the cave.

You have to prepare yourself to spend several hours here, to have the chance to see everything. Every now and then there are announcements made over the loudspeakers just so you know where there is something going on that has a schedule to follow. For example the ElfSchool takes place at special times during the day, but do not worry if you miss one; there are several more opportunities to attend during the day. The magical Elf show takes place three times per day on the stage in the center of the cave. The show is a twenty-minute lasting dance show with an interactive part where all children (and childish) could take part in the end. All other activities are going on all through the day and you can choose yourself where to go and in what order.

There are always elves fooling around behind every corner. They do just anything to amuse you and make your visit a life-long experience.

IMG_2035

As you visit the icy world, the Ice Gallery, of the Ice Princess she will tell you tales of Finnish nature and mythology as she guides you around among the ice sculptures and if you ask, she will even tell you how she is related to Santa Claus. The Ice Princess is so beautiful and her appearance touches you and makes you feel calm in the middle of all the exciting things you experience in the park during your visit.

IMG_0330

In the Post Office you can send greetings home, in the Angry Birds’ Park there are activities for the children and in the Elf Workshop you can make your own Santa or try the CalligraphySchool and learn how to do writing with real ink. Have I forgotten anything now?

As you spend several hours in the park you will probably eventually be both hungry and thirsty and for that there is the Restaurant, a Champagne Bar and in the Gingerbread Kitchen you can except for the big gingerbread also get all kinds of drinks; coffee, tee, hot chocolate, juice and even strong spirit drinks. Mrs Gingerbread will definitely try to make you taste the very special Christmas drink in Finland, the hot, spiced berry juice. After tasting, instead of having a cup of coffee many visitors prefer the hot spiced berry juice, the Glögi, with or without alcohol.

I have heard a story there was once a British family on a week long trip to Finland. The family ended up visiting SantaPark and in there also the Gingerbread Kitchen. Their little 5-year old boy was excited decorating the gingerbread and as it was done he wanted to taste it. The parents were just looking at him eating up the whole, big gingerbread. They explained to Mrs Gingerbread this cookie was the only thing this child had been eating for several days (!) He never found anything he liked to eat before he came to this magical world and got the taste of Mrs Claus’ gingerbread. The parents were so thankful, but Mrs Gingerbread did not see that as something so special; every child just loves her gingerbread!

Polar Bears in Ranua Wildlife Park

It is very rare for polar bears to give birth when they are in captivity, away from their natural freedom. The first polar bear cub ever surviving its birth in Finland was the greatest Christmas present in 2011 for the Ranua Wildlife Park, situated about 90 km south from Rovaniemi. Early in the morning on November 18th, 2011, the polar bear Venus gave birth to two tiny polar bear cubs. In the year 2009 the polar bears Venus and Manasse had a polar bear cub, too, who eventually died after a few days. But this time the cub survived and is now as a one year old polar bear one of the biggest attractions at Ranua zoo and his birth definitively was an enormous success for the wildlife park with a great increase in the number of visitors.

The first 24 hours after the birth are the most critical: one-third of the cubs die during this period. Half of the cubs die before they reach the age of five days, and after a month, only 40% of the cubs born are still surviving. In the earlier times, perhaps the greatest reason for the weakened reproduction for polar bears at various wildlife parks has been the amount of outer stimulus disturbing the mother polar bear, this disturbance eventually could cause the mother to abandon its cub or even kill the cub. At the Ranua Wildlife Park, therefore, they made early protection improvements in the polar bear den and the  surroundings to offer peace for Venus to give birth to her cubs. During the time of the pregnancy and also after the cub was born, they followed the progress through microphone recordings and surveillance video cameras installed in the den.

On February 23rd, 2012, the park decided to open the door to the den and let the polar bear mother and her cub out in the snowy world of their fence. The mother bear Venus had started to move around anxiously in the den as a sign that she probably would need some nutrition. She had not had anything to eat for nearly three months. A lot of journalists were attending this remarkable happening when the door was opened. First the mother bear came out and had a look at the weather outside and tested how secure it would be for the cub to enter, too. After a while even the little cub very carefully looked out from between the fore legs of the mother. At this time the park could announce that the cub was a male bear. His weight as this time was around 10 kg.

I went to Ranua zoo in March to try to get a glimpse of the cub. I was lucky, because I got the chance to see him. The mother and her cub very seldom came out from the den and not at any predictable time. The fence is very big and the visitors never got near the cub when he was only a few months old. Later on he started to move around in the fence and they were eventually even moved to another, bigger fence. The picture I captured in March 2012 shows the mother standing outside the den and the cub is to the right of her. Not a good photo, I admit, but better than nothing…

IMG_0519 (2)

There was a name competition arranged to find a suitable name for the little newborn cub. Around 10,000 suggestions were given and on September 3rd, 2012, as the result of the very careful and difficult elimination of the suggestions done by the jury consisting of the Ranua Wildlife Park staff, the name Ranzo was elected as the name for the very unique polar bear cub in Finland. The jury wanted the name to be suggestive of the birth-place of the cub, (the Wildlife Park of Ranua, Ranua Zoo) and, at the same time, the name needed to be internationally ”easy” as well.

The next time I visited the Ranua zoo was in October 2012 and Ranzo was already a “big” boy, around 80 kg. Both the mother and the cub were sleeping as I arrived, but after a while Ranzo started to wake up and strolled over to his mother to have some milk from his mother. The mother bear was still breast feeding the cub and right out there in the sun shine in front of some visitors.

IMG_1819

After the meal Ranzo started to play around with the ice flakes on the little lake they have in their fence. They use to go swimming a lot, but at the time I was there they stayed on the shore and Ranzo was running around to find interesting things to play with. The staff of Ranua zoo provides the bears with different play toys, so he usually does not have any problems to find anything to do.

IMG_1828

I have visited the Ranua wildlife park several times during the seven winters I have been in Lapland, and before Ranzo was born Venus used to play around together with her sister Vanessa in the pool to amuse the visitors. The two of them always enjoyed the audience to looked up at them as they threw around balls in the pool. Vanessa was moved to another zoo somewhere in Europe as Venus had her cub, because there are not enough fences to keep all of them The father Manasse is also living in his own fence in the zoo. He is not allowed to be with the mother and the cub, because a male polar bear does not have “fatherly” feelings and he could be dangerous to the cub and even kill it. In a couple of years there are plans to let Venus and Manasse have a try for more cubs, but at the moment Ranzo can enjoy the company of his mother Venus. Ranua wildlife park keeps a blog on happenings in the park, but mostly only in Finnish. Check it out here.

These photos are of Venus and Vanessa playing in spring 2008. IMG_4114IMG_1898

In Ranua Wildlife Park there are also a lot of other arctic animals. I will tell you more about them later on. Ranua Wildlife Park offers tourists and nearby inhabitants the opportunity to see arctic animals throughout the year, in an as authentic environment for the animals as possible. The Park is open every day of the year, and the changing seasons do bring their own extra dimension to the life in the park. During winter the brown bears are sleeping, of course, but there are a lot of animals active in winter time. Often they are even more active during the winter because the heat in the summer makes them slow and sleepy during the visitors’ hours. Check out the home page of the wildlife park for the special feeding times.

The park animals consist of about 50 wild animal species and 200 individuals. In the summer, there is also a domestic animal park in the park grounds.

 

 

A visit to Santa Claus’ office on the Arctic Circle

Did you know you can meet Santa Claus every single day during the year in his office in the Santa Claus Village on the Arctic Circle just outside Rovaniemi city? Only on Christmas Eve he is not in his office due to certain reasons…, but he returns again on Christmas Day to talk to visitors from all over the world.

IMG_6601The Arctic Circle and the Santa Claus Village are situated approx. 6 km:s north from the city center of Rovaniemi near the road number 4 that goes to Ivalo and Inari. You cannot miss it with the spectacular roofs on the buildings. The building with Santa’s office inside has the special Santa’s picture on the roof.

IMG_1240

In the Santa Claus Village (link with a lot of information, also a live cam from Santa’s office; not always working, sorry) you can cross the Arctic Circle for the first (or the last?) time in your life. The Arctic Circle is marked on the ground in the middle of the village and also with a blue wire between the houses in the village to be seen also in winter time when the ground is covered with snow.

IMG_2862

Your crossing of the Arctic Circle can be documented by an Arctic Circle crossing diploma you can buy at the Information desk.

The main building is of course the Santa Claus office where you can meet Santa Claus himself. On your way to see Him some days there might be a long queue, but I can assure you there is a lot to experience and look at on you way to your goal and the queuing is done inside the building so you do not need to worry about any minus degrees outside and how they would affect a waiting. You can learn the story of how it is possible for Santa to visit all children all around the world in just one night. On calmer days of the year there is supposedly no queue at all and you get to meet Santa right away.

As you enter the special door to Santa’s inner office the excitement and expectations are of course high. Everything depends, of course, on how interested you actually are in meeting Him. You should not bother if you do not believe in Santa….The whole atmosphere inside Santa’s office is like a fairy-tale and you’d better live a fairy-tale yourself to get the most out of the visit.

Santa speaks a lot of languages, like Chinese and Japan, but you must not be disappointed if he does not know your own language. The meeting is still a success. His warm eyes and his smooth voice and the feeling when you can sit close to your “idol” are everything needed for the success.

During your visit you will be asked by a photo elf to smile and a photo is taken of you as you meet Santa Claus. The meeting is also video recorded from the beginning to the end. The length of your meeting is very much depending on how long a queue is waiting outside the door. I, myself, had the great opportunity to meet Santa for the first time on a day with no queue at all, and that made my day! I will never forget that.

Jessi och Dagny hos tomten våren 2008

On your way out from the inner office you will meet elves who give you the opportunity to buy this special photo or get the video stored on a USB memory stick to take home with you. But this is absolutely optional.

Outside the Santa’s office there are several buildings in the village with a lot of Christmas related things to buy for your own memory or as gifts to take home with you, and Christmas carols are played on the loudspeakers every day of the year!

There is also the special official Santa Claus’ Main Post Office, from where you can send some greetings with the special Santa’s stamp on. You can actually choose when your card should reach the addressee; this Christmas or the next. All the letters from children all over the world to Santa arrive to this Post office and Santa reads them all. At Christmas 2012 Santa received over half a billion letters. He has several elves to help him answering the letters. This year he has sent 43,000 letters to 231 different countries. Everyone, who wants gets an answer from Santa! The address is: Santa Claus’ Main Post Office, Santa’s Workshop Village, 96930 Arctic Circle, but from the letters shown in the Post Office you can see addresses on them like: Santa Claus, Finland or Santa Claus, Arctic Circle, that have also reached the right “person”.

IMG_2861IMG_2868

So far, the elves have found 184 countries from which Santa has received a total of nearly eight million items in the past 20 years. The address to Santa Claus is: Santa Claus, Tähtikuja 1, FIN-96930 Arctic Circle, Finland.

IMG_3866

On the evening before Christmas Eve Santa Claus turns up outside the office to leave for his trip around the world. He is followed by thousands of people taking farewell every year.

IMG_8565IMG_2075

 

Depending on the winter, how much snow there is and of other reasons, there are also built several “icy” devices around the Santa Claus office. Sometimes there is an ice café and sometimes a “snow village”. Everything to give the visitor from foreign countries the real feeling of snow and winter.

IMG_4912IMG_5074

In winter time outside in Santa Claus Village there is always an ice slope for children and this is very popular. Even so that the experience to slide down this slope is remembered by many children all over the world to be the thing they remember most from the visit to Santa Claus Village. That depends a lot on how the fairytale has been dealt with and the Christmas spirit is built at your home and told before the visit. You could say the parents have a great deal to cope with depending on how they want the visit to be remembered afterwards….Am I right?

IMG_5076

 

 

 

Some interesting places in Rovaniemi to start with

Rovaniemi and its sights

A good start when you want to explore Lapland is to visit Rovaniemi, the capital of Lapland. That was the way I started. After I first arrived I started strolling around along the streets in the city center, visited parks and walked along the riverside of Kemijoki. Kemijoki is the river flowing down from the northeast of Lapland and it joins together with Ounasjoki; the river that flows down to Rovaniemi from the northwest. Kemijoki river flows right through the city of Rovaniemi and the riversides of Kemijoki are often objects to happenings in Rovaniemi.

I am not going to deeper describe where Rovaniemi is and what is called Lapland in the land of Finland. I presume the information about these facts are found on other web pages. I am simply going to describe to you how to get along in Rovaniemi and other places i Lapland. I am going to tell you about my excursions and visits and the things I have been doing here. As I have lived here for about 7 years now I think I am very well capable of doing that to you.

In the center of Rovaniemi you can visit the magnificent Museum Arktikum; the Lapland history museum, which is also an Arctic Science Center. As a newcomer in Rovaniemi and Lapland you find a lot of useful information there. It is a good place to start. The history of Rovaniemi is amazing. Not the least the fact it was burned down by the Germans in the end of WW II. After visiting Arktikum you know a lot more why the city of Rovaniemi has become what it is today. In the museum there is a map of the city showing how it looked like before and after the second world war.

IMG_4449

The big bridge that joins the city of Rovaniemi to the east part of the city where the Ounasvaara hill is situated, is called the “Lumberjack Candle Bridge”. It symbolizes the workers who used to work hard in the forests many years ago. The light highest up on the bridge symbolizes the fire the lumberjacks used to keep to warm them up and give them light in the forest camps.

IMG_2141

Close to Arktikum you fin also Pilke; a center for northern forest science. Rovaniemi and Lapland have a long history with forest industries and lumber jacks. The exhibition in Pilke is really interesting, and there is something for everyone and for every age! You can even sing karaoke in there and play with small cars or pretend you are a hunter and shoot down birds and animals in the wood.

Did you know the city plan of Rovaniemi is named the “reindeer antler plan”? The famous Finnish architect Alvar Aalto made the reconstruction plan for the city after it was destroyed by the Germans in 1944-45. The plan has a shape of a reindeer’s head with its horns. I do not know of any other city plan that is that interesting and exclusive!

The Art Museum of Rovaniemi you find in the Korundi house of Culture on Lapinkävijäntie 4 in the city center. In the art museum there are changing interesting exhibitions and the culture house offers all kinds of concerts and there is always some upcoming event to look forward to. Check out the event calendar on the home page of Korundi.

Rovaniemi is also called the official home town of Santa Claus. Outside the city center, along road nr 4, on the Arctic circle, on your way towards north and Ivalo, you find the Santa Claus Village. There you can visit Santa every single day during the year, get a photo together with Santa and also listen to Christmas carols and shop for Christmas decorations all the year round. During winter season you can also see reindeer there and go for reindeer and husky rides around in the village. Nearby Santa’s office is also the Santa Claus Post office, where all the letters from children all over the world arrive. The letters are sorted by the elves according to from which country they are sent and Santa himself answers the letters.

IMG_2861

Within walking distance from Santa Claus Village is SantaPark. The amazing amusement park down in a cave is open during winter from the end of November to the middle of January. During the summer season it is open for visitors from the end of June to the middle of August. This video from inside SantaPark shows you a little of what to expect of your visit there. Definitely worth a visit! You will get the real Christmas spirit and forget about all the other world outside the cave. The elves will take you for a fairytale trip you never will forget.

20101221_9999_72

IMG_2854