Rovaniemi is proud to have several major features designed by Alvar Aalto, one of Finland’s foremost architects. Other visionaries have also embellished the city with landmark structures.
Risen from Ashes – Alvar Aalto And Post-War Rovaniemi
Rovaniemi suffered badly in World War II, as approximately 90 percent of buildings in the town centre were destroyed in 1944. The rebuilding process started quickly after the tragedy, and was led by Alvar Aalto (1898-1976), who is widely regarded as one of Finland’s national architects.
The Reindeer Antler Town Plan
Rovaniemi is the capital of Lapland, and what would be more fitting than to have the town shaped like a reindeer, the iconic animal of the area? Aalto’s genius vision has central Rovaniemi wrapped inside the reindeer’s head, with the Keskuskenttä sports stadium as the eye. Roads leading north, west and south make up the antlers.
Rovaniemi Administrative Centre
Aalto’s main work in Rovaniemi is the administrative and cultural centre, also known as the Aalto centre, which consists of Rovaniemi City Hall (pictured), Rovaniemi City Library and Lappia House, a congress venue and the home of Rovaniemi Theatre.
The library was constructed first, in 1965, followed by Lappia House in 1976, which was the last building Aalto saw completed before his death in the same year. The city hall was completed posthumously in 1986, the plans of which were finalized by Aalto’s architect wife Elissa Aalto.
Housing by Alvar Aalto in Rovaniemi
Besides large public projects, Alvar Aalto also designed housing in Rovaniemi. The Korkalorinne residential area features row houses and apartment buildings in parklike surroundings, and in central Rovaniemi, several buildings designed for the Aho business family were planned as part of a tight urban milieu.
A Wider Front of Architects
Another central figure in Rovaniemi architecture is Aalto’s contemporary Ferdinand Salokangas, who designed several administrative buildings and housing in town. The best known are Rovaniemi Fire Station and the Town Hall of Rovaniemi Market Town (pictured) that has since been refurbished into Arctic Light Hotel.
Arktikum – The Arctic Embodied
Besides housing the Regional Museum of Lapland and Arctic Science Centre, Arktikum is one of Rovaniemi’s most recognizable buildings. Opened to the public on December 6th, 1992 to mark the 75th anniversary of Finland’s independence, Arktikum was designed by Danish architect group Birch-Bonderup & Thorup-Waade. The building’s iconic glass tube represents the frozen finger of the north, the direction it points in.
Korundi – From Post Bus Depot to A House of Culture
One of the few buildings in Rovaniemi not destroyed in World War II was the post bus depot built in 1933. Having served multiple purposes over the decades, the depot was converted into Rovaniemi Art Museum in 1986, and later remodelled to Korundi House of Culture. Korundi was designed by architect Juhani Pallasmaa and is home to Rovaniemi Art Museum and Lapland Chamber Orchestra.
Pilke – An Extraordinary Wood Construction
Owned and operated by Metsähallitus, the Finnish Administration of Forests, Science Centre Pilke is entirely built of wood. The building represents Metsähallitus’ environmental policies and 90 percent of materials used come from inside Finland. Designed by wood building specialists APRT architectural studio and opened for the public in 2011, key guidelines for the building were set by sustainability, natural light and the surrounding hill and river landscapes.
The Jätkänkynttilä ("Lumberjack's Candle") Bridge – A Modern Icon
If there is one landmark Rovaniemi is known for, it’s the Jätkänkynttilä Bridge. Opened for traffic in 1989, the 320-metre bridge connects Ounasvaara to the town centre. Jätkänkynttilä takes its name and shape from a type of torch carved from wood by lumberjacks, a common trade in 20th century Rovaniemi.
Tour Rovaniemi Architecture
Most pieces of essential Rovaniemi architecture lie close to each other and can be toured on foot in a couple of hours. Even the outlines of the reindeer antler town plan can be followed to an extent. Directions for self-led tours are available at Rovaniemi Tourist Information on Lordi’s Square in the very centre of town.
Traveling to Rovaniemi for Christmas and worried about the latest restrictions? This is a touchy subject to us all, so let's keep it civil.
Let's keep each other and ourselves safe and follow the instructions. Together we can make this season an enjoyable one.❤️
By presenting a valid corona passport or certificate(proof of vaccination series, a negative COVID-19 test carried out up to 72 hours prior to arrival or laboratory test certified recovery from COVID-19 within the past six months), you are allowed to follow through your plans to experience a holiday of your dreams in the magical city of Rovaniemi.
The Arctic Capital of Lapland – Rovaniemi under the magical Northern Sky 💚
Rovaniemi is one of the best places in the world to marvel the Northern Lights, and the local photographers get to enjoy the nights of lovely lights, just few steps or a short drive from the city center.
This picture is by a local talent @sampulainen
To join a Northern Lights tour in Rovaniemi and to try out the local way of life – Go to https://www.visitrovaniemi.fi/see-do/activities/