Tampere southern Finland 9 August 2014

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August 9th 2014
Published: August 12th 2014
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Tampere southern Finland 9 August 2014

We arrived in Tampere just after lunch and easily found a park on this Saturday afternoon. We fell in love with the city as soon as we drove into it, with its cobble stoned roads in the city centre.

Tampere is the third largest city in Finland with around 213,000 people and a metro population of nearly half a million. Being located 170km north of the Finnish coastal capital Helsinki, it is also the biggest inland town in the whole Nordic region.

Geographically, the city lies on a narrow isthmus between Lake Näsijärvi, which reaches far to the north, and Lake Pyhäjärvi in the south. In addition, there are 200 lakes and ponds in Tampere, and a total of 450 in the entire region. Despite being predominantly a former heavy industry centre, today Tampere is a major hub for information technology, research, education, culture, sports and business. In 2010, the City of Tampere came in first in an image survey comparing the largest cities in Finland. Leaving Helsinki behind, it was also found the most attractive city among Finns who plan on moving.

After parking, we headed for the Tammerkoski rapids that now run in a canal through downtown Tampere connected the two major lakes with an elevation drop of 18 metres. As early as the 7th century people started to gather at the banks of the lakes, and in the 18th century the utilization of the rapids as a source of hydropower resulted in a population boom. The town is well supplied with pedestrian bridges over the lakes, which made the town that much more interesting.

Tampere was officially founded on the banks of Tammerkoski in 1775 by Gustav III of Sweden, and four years later, 1 October 1779, it was granted full city rights. The newly founded city was soon established as a key place for revolutionary economical theories, after it declared a freedom of trade policy to the city dwellers. The status of free town enabled import and export of foreign goods without customs. In addition, it was ordered that the citizens were allowed to freely practice any Christian faith.

Due to the uncommon liberties, Tampere grew as a major market town and industrial centre in the 19th century. During the latter half of 19th century almost half of Finland's industrial labour force was in Tampere. The town's industrial inclination in the 19th and 20th centuries gave it the nickname "Manchester of the North", "Manse" for short (in Finnish) that sticks to this day.

We wandered from street to street, admiring the changes that have been made to the old red brick factories. One of the best was the Finlayson historic factory complex. A collection of historic factory buildings gradually extended from a textile mill founded by a Scotsman named James Finlayson in 1820. This oldest building, a six-storey high-rise, dates back to 1837. The complex also includes the factory church, now the most popular wedding church in Tampere, stable yards with arts and crafts shops and pony rides, and the owner's mansion with park and a restaurant. The factory buildings have been transformed into shops, restaurants, museums, movie theatres, and office spaces. It was so interesting to walk through the building.

We also wanted to see the Tampere Cathedral, Tuomiokirkonkatu. This unusual, imposing church in the Finnish National Romantic style, designed by architect Lars Sonck was completed in 1907. The interior has a series of famously macabre frescos by Hugo Simberg, including The Wounded Angel (once voted Finland's "national painting") and the Garden of Death. There was a private function on when we got there, but for those who know me well, the sign "private function" outside the door didn't perturb me so I snuck in a took a photo....I was very quiet!!!

We did some more walking and then found a lake-side pub and had a cold beer on this warm Saturday afternoon. We reflected how disappointed we were that Brisbane didn't fully utilise our river for public use.

It was heading towards 6.00pm so we went back to our motor home and headed further south.

In southern Finland, on all the major roads, are prevalent speed cameras and many of the roads are set at 80 kph. There are even speed cameras when the speed is set at 100kph. We had to be alert at all the changes in speed along the way.

We drove to 7.00pm and found an open air museum at Loimaa which is about 70kms north of Turku where we are heading tomorrow.

Additional photos below
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