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.
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.
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.
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.