Hameenpuisto is a long public park that is the western border of the city center, but it was interesting to know that back in 19th century this was supposed to be a long fire barrier!
The park was designed in 1830 by Carl Ludvig Engel(1778-1840) the german architect that designed the iconic Senate square in Helsinki. There were lots of rows of trees, most of them planted in late 1870 but more trees were added until the early 20th century along with lindens and maples. It was called Esplanadi until 1933. It looked much more like a typical park back then, full of trees, there were so many of them creating large dark area but many were dead due to several diseased until late 1940s so they had to be removed. Many years later in mid 1990s many trees in poor condition were replaced with new ones.
We walked a bit along the park, a bit to the south to visit Lenin museum but also to the north part where it meets with Nasi park. The most interesting thing here is to check some sculptures all over the park.
The most impressive (pic 2) is located opposite Alexander church, it’s the statue Vapaudenpatsas (freedom statue) that was created in 1921 by Viktor Jansson.
Behind the statue we noticed a piece of modern art (pic 3), a granite ball revolving on a thin layer of water, I have seen some pictures of it during winter with lights laminating it and was very beautiful…
Lauri Leppanen created in 1951 a statue of Minna Canth(1844-1897) (pic 4) a popular Finnish writer and social activist. I was supposed to read some of her books but couldn’t find any translation.
Finally we took a picture (pic 5) of Uutinen (news) that was created in 1981 by Heikki Varja. An interesting sculpture showing three human figures over a newspaper.
Tampere lies between 2 major lake, the one in the south is lake Pyhajarvi. The average depth is 5,5m with maximum at 46m (deepest spots lie between Tampere and Nokia).
The total size of the lake is 125 square kilometers and has a C shape with Tampere lyingon the north part of the lake with Tammerkoski rapids running into Pyhajarvi, the waters are warmer and richer in ozone which makes life in the lake richer than Nasijarvi lake. So, it’s no surprise the lake is a popular spot for fishing, famous for its big perch but even bigger zander that can go up to 10kg! Some other fishes in the lake are pike, brown trout, landlocked salmon, whitefish(can be pursued with ice-fishing tackle in late winter), asp, rainbow trout, carp, roach, bream and other cyprinids. You need a fishing licence (13euros for a week pass, free of charge for those under 18years old).
We walked a bit at the shores of the lake coming down from Pyynikki park, it was very peaceful, but we didn’t try fishing just playing around with the water for a while :)
We saw some old wooden boats around but during summer months you can take a 20 minute boat ride from Laukontori harbor to Viikinsaari(Viking) island that houses an old church with pagan symbols. Unfortunately we didn’t have time for this one.
Laukontori square is a popular spot near the harbor that houses an outdoor market. We’ve been there a bit late so there were only a few stalls selling some second hand items but obviously not something that would satisfy the die hard shoppers :)
Most people just relaxing around, sitting on the wooden benches, it was a great sunny day so the outdoor café seems the only option while many people were eating from the numerous stalls that sell local fast food specialties like the famous black sausage sandwich mustamakkara (I don’t like sausages so I didnt try it).
So we just preferred to have an ice cream and take some pictures around, it was interesting to have a fully-functioning cardboard factory at the back of the square.
A huge fish fair takes place here twice each year (late april, late september).
From the square you can walk a few meters to the south and see the modern footbridge (pic 3-4) that leads to other side where you can visit Ratinannokanpuisto park and Tampere stadium. We preferred to go for the first beer of the day…
Lenin Museum (Lenin-museo) is a museum in the world dedicated to the famous Russian communist revolutionary and political theorist Vladimir Lenin (1870-1924). The museum opened in 1946, founded by the Finnish-Soviet Friendship Society (now Finland-Russia Society) and it is housed at Workers’ Hall (pic 1), a historically important art deco building as this was the room where Lenin met with Stalin for the first time in 1905 in a secret meeting of the Russian Social Democratic Workers' Party. This was also the place where in 1906 Lenin pledged to guarantee Finland’s independence after the Bolsheviks would seize power in Russia (in 1965 a memorial plaque was attached to the outer wall of the building).
I went up to the second floor where I realized how small this museum is (2 rooms) but so interesting too. The lady at the reception gave me a multi page guide in English describing the exhibits but also the timeline of Lenin and his connection with Finland and Tampere. She also had no problem to discuss with me about him and the museum. The first years (1946-1955) the museum had several financial problems but it survived with volunteer work by (no surprise) left wing workers.
Plenty of old articles, newspapers, maps, photographs and general artifacts related with Lenin’s life and activities, I really love these small but focused museums. If you just walk around you’ll be out in less than 10 minutes but in this case you made a mistake coming here anyway, there was only one other visitor that day, she was also taking her time, reading the guide book. As I already knew lot about his life and ideology in general I focused here on Lenin’s connection with Finland, his staying in Tampere etc (the permanent exhibitions are Lenin’s Life and Lenin and Finland)
Sometimes there’s a temporary exhibition too. In June 2013 I saw the exhibition Cuba Si!, a lovely series of colorful photographs (pic 5) by Matti Tohka
There’s also a small museum shop/corner with several posters, cards and small souvenirs.
The museum is open Monday to Friday 9.00-18.00, weekends 11-16.00
The entrance fee is 5euro
Keskustori is Tampere’s Central square, a large public square that is always busy with people (locals and visitors). Hameenkatue -the main street of Tampere- splits the square in two, the south part is the main hub of the local buses, not so attractive spot for visitors unless you need a bus but the McDonalds at the corner was packed with local kids.
We crossed the street to see the north part of the square which is much more interesting as it houses some interesting buildings:
Old Church (pic 1, on the left)
Tampere Theater (pic 3), next to Old Church facing the City Hall. It was built in early 20th century in national romantic style and is still an active theatre.
Tampere City Hall (pic 4), it was built in 1890 in neo-renaissance style. Later in Lenin museum I’ve that the Red Manifest (written by Finnish politician Yrjo Makelin) was read from City Hall’s balcony during the Great Strike in 1905 demanding political freedoms but also dissolution of the Senate of Finland.
We didn’t really stay much here, just some minutes near the fountain in front of the City Hall taking pictures of people passing by, cycling or taking a nap in front of the Old Church (pic 5).
We visited Old Church and then walked up to Finlayson. On the way we realized that a big part of the square is used as a huge ugly parking lot.
Virtual view of the square here
This was the first church we visited in Tampere due to its central location, right on Keskustori square.
Vanha Kirkko (Old Church) was built in 1824 in neoclassical style by the italian Carlo Bassi and it’s the first church of Tampere (hence the name). The bell tower was designed by the Carl Engel in 1829 in the place of a manor cellar. In 1847 the church was extended.
Once inside I was the only visitor with no one around, I took some pictures of the simple interior, it’s a typical finish old church but nothing to be impressed here, just a nice old wooden church, I’ve read my notes about and got out to the lively square again.
The church can seat about 300 people and is the home church of the Swedish parish in Tampere.
It’s open only for 2 hours so you have to plan your itinerary if you reallywant to get inside, Wednesday to Sunday 11.00am to 13.00 (English mass Sundays at 16.00)
Hameenkatu is the main street of Tampere and the first one we walked on as we got out of the train station.
It’s 1km long starting on the east side at the train station and goes west until Hameenpuisto Park(opposite Alexander church) dividing the city center into north and south side. You can catch most of the local buses on Hameenkatu street but it’s worth to walk on it as it is lined with numerous stores (ideal for those who want to go shopping), cafés (not so cozy but plenty of choices for coffee break), restaurants and pubs. As you can see on pics 1&2 the street is covered with cobble stones.
Although it’s not a charming boulevard (banks, offices and hotels don’t help) there are some nice spots, about 400m from the train station we passed by Tammerkoski rapids that actually splits the center into west and east. We took some pictures there on the bridge, the area near the river is lovely anyway with some café and restaurants on the shores of the river, I liked the industrial feeling of the tall factory chimneys at the background (pic 3) but we also took many pictures of the four statues on Hameensilta bridge(pic 4).
A few meters more Hameenkatu crosses Keskustori (pic 5), this is the central square of Tampere which houses many interesting buildings on the north side (Old Church, Tampere Theater, City Hall) while the south side is the main hub for the local buses.
Tampere center is located between two lakes (Nasijarvi and Pyjajarvi) that have 18meters difference in altitude as Nasijarvi lake stands higher with water flowing down to Pyhajarvi through Tammerkoski rapids, the water is pretty calm due to three hydroelectric dams and four powerful stations serving the needs of nearby factories. The first (peasant-controlled) dams were built here during 15th century!
In any case the rapids add some colorful feeling in the center. We walked along Haneenkatu street and reached Hameensilta bridge where we could take some nice shots of Tammerkoski (pic 1) with views on both sides of the city. While on the bridge don’t miss the four statues of the bridge, 4 naked figures (pics 2-3-4), 3 male and one female. This is an iron-concrete bridge that was constructed in 1929 replacing an iron bridge from 1884 that had replaced a wooden one from 1807.
There are some other bridges all over the rapids but this was the only one that really worth to stop for a while.
You can actually walk along the banks of the rapids, don’t forget that the city was founded on the banks of the rapids. Even today you can see this was a huge industrial area as you walk towards Fynlayson, but the nice paths and the cafes on a sunny day will add some smile on your visit :)
Pic 5 was taken near Tampella power station.
Walking up the main square we ended up at Finlayson. It’s a historic factory complex that was named after the textile mill that was founded at the banks of Tammerkoski Rapids in 1820 by a Scottish Quaker called James Finlayson (1772-1852). He actually started with an engineering shop and soon transformed it into a cotton mill taking advantage of the free rapids and later a large-scale company, in reality he was the one that brought industrial revolution in Tampere.
Most factories disappeared in late 1980s except the Tako paperboard mill that still produces high quality packaging products. There were more than 3000 employees here in the early 20th century, no surprise it was called “a town within the town” as it had its own school and church. Many workers joined the socialist party and fought with Red Army during the civil war in 1918.
The last years most of the other buildings have been turned into museums, restaurants, stores, movie theater and offices. It was interesting to walk around for a while, we took a visit to Spy Museum but we found most of the restaurants too American for our taste. I wanted to visit the Media Museum too but we were there late (it’s open tue-sun 10.00-18.00, entrance fee 5euros)
If you go there don’t miss the beautiful factory church that was built in 1879 for the factory workers but now is a favorite wedding church. I have to admit this was the only building I really liked in Finlayson.
Spy Museum (Vakoilumuseo) claims to be the first museum of international espionage and was founded in 1998. I had great expectations about it but I cant say that I enjoyed my visit that much.
It took us a while to find the entrance as we walked through Finlayson. A smiling girl welcomed us at the lobby and provided us with a notebook in english, it was very quiet that evening with only 2 other visitors. I took one pictures and the smiling girl came screaming that I’m not allowed to do that unless I pay a separate ticket!
The museum isn’t big so its collection isn’t large with many old exhibits although I guess there are people that really enjoy to see old maps, miniature cameras and radio devices. There are a lot of info boards (unfortunately most of them in finnish so you have to check the English translation all the time) where you can read about the “career” of real life spies, what they did and what gadgets they used.
There are also some interactive dispays where you can try yourself some things, code cracking, hidden writing with invisible ink, a shooting gallery, voice changer etc
It’s open daily 11.00-17.00
The entrance fee is 8euros for adults, 6e for children/students.
photos/video isn’t permitted not because they are afraid to steal secret documents but because you have to pay extra for the privilege :)
The Moominvalley of the Tampere Art Museum (Muumilaakso) used to be at Hämeenpuisto 20 (under the main library) but when I got there was only a small store dedicated to Moominvalley. They have left the old statue outside the main entrance (pic3) but the new museum is a 10’ walk from the previous location at Puutarhakatu 34 (at the basement of Tampere Art Museum).
Moomins were a family of white roundish fairy tale characters that became very popular in Finland through a series of books and comic strips designed by Tove Jansson but also films and TV series. This museum is fully dedicated (2000 exhibits on display!) to original illustrations of Tove Jansson and her lovely creatures that look like hippopotamuses. Sketches, drawings, sculptures, local kids may get excited as they are serious Moomin fans but do can they really appreciate a black and white original drawing? For the rest of the world it’s just a waste of time.
The entrance fee is 6euros, a nice rip-off (2e for childen 4-16 and students)
It’s open Tue-Fri 9-17.00, Sat-Sun 10-18.00
One morning I walked down to the city center to buy supplies for cooking and passed by Tampere City Library (Metso). I was surprised by the strange style of the building. They say that seen from above it looks like a bird carrying a shield! It used to house the Moominvalley museum, they still house events (theatre plays, story times etc) for children but also art exhibitions for adults, philosophy evenings etc
There is a large range of books of course but also newspapers and magazines, lot of music and a café to wait for a while when it rains outside like I did :) It’s a good thing they have many books in different languages so it’s handy for everyone that has some extra time in city but I guess most visitors didn’t come to Tampere for reading :)
It’s open mon-fri 9.30-20.00, sat 9.30-15.00
Our second day in Tampere started here at Alexander church, a nice neo gothic structure (pic 1) facing Hämeenpuisto Park. It is located on a peaceful park (Pyynikki church park) full of old tombstones (pic 2) because it was a cemetery from 1785 to 1880. Many claim that after finnish Civil War in 1918 many people were buried near the church in a mass grave.
The foundation stone of the church was laid on march 2, 1880 which was the 25th anniversary of the Russian emperor Alexander II in power(hence the name of the church) and completed a year later and was the main church of Tampere parish. It was fully renovated in 1937 but burnt completely during the process (!) so it was renovated again in 1938.
Once inside we liked the simple colored wooden craftwork decoration (pics 3-4) but most of all we were lucky to here live music from the organ (pic 5). The church can house about 1300 people and very often concerts take place here. There are always some volunteers giving information to the visitors.
On the door we saw a sign that claims it’s open 11.00-18.00 daily (weekends 11.00-15.00)
We took bus 2 from the center to Rauhaniemy beach but we failed to find it. We got off where the bus driver told use, we walked through the parking lot but ended up on a dead end, we could see the sea beyond the trees but no sign of any beach or at least someone to ask where we are, and this supposed to be a crowded beach during the summer months :) The sky started to turn into black, clouds were coming fast to attack the poor tourists so we left the scene…
According to the leaflet we had it was created in 1929 separated in 2 parts, one with shallow water and playground facilities, ideal for small children while the north side is a rocky one with a two metre concrete diving tower. People visit the beach even in winter getting out of the sauna and into the cold lake through an ice hole!.... crazy finnish customs :)
There’s also two saunas there, bring your swimsuit along.
It’s open weekdays 15.00-20.00, weekends 13.00-19.30.
The second day in Tampere did not start well for, a drab rain fell in the morning but the sky got pretty clear soon so we decided to visit the beach (didn’t make it) and then visited this square while still cloudy.
Tammela square (Tammelantori) is a typical market square, many stalls with vegetables, fruits but also some crafts, second hand items etc We had some lovely but extremely expensive cherries (250gr for 2,50euro, we take more than 1kg in Greece for this price) and stopped for a while and watched the locals come and go, it was a peaceful day in any case, only a few lazy people around. Some of them were eating at the food canteens, I guess most of them were trying the famous black sausage.
The square faces Emil Alltonen’s Park, there’s also a monument dedicated to Aaltonen, a famous shoemaker that had a shoe factory here.
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