Imatra is a national wonder of Finland
Imatra is a special place, a true wonder. Situated in Karelia, which is known for its poem-singing tradition, the city attracts events and sights that by themselves draw attention. Several of them have found a permanent home in Imatra.
In the middle of it all, the rapids churn. This oldest tourist attraction in Finland runs through the city, forming a rugged canyon in the middle of a populated area. Dating back more than 6,000 years, the rapids have been one of the most significant sights in Europe since the 18th century, and the wild water has not lost its allure over the ages. The rapids have been visited and admired by many, including an empress of Russia and an emperor of Brazil.
The rapids are mentioned in the Kalevala, the national epic of Finland.
Modern speed is featured in the form of the only motorcycle road racing competition in Finland – Imatranajo. You can get into the spirit of Imatranajo on the bank of the Vuoksi River, as the control tower, pits and finish line are a permanent part of a section of Vuoksentie, and the street corners that are part of the track feature blue-and-white curbs. The street track is an impressive sight to behold: you can watch motorcycles speed past you at a speed of more than 300 kilometers per hour while standing only a few meters away.
Imatrankoski is home to the only Art Nouveau style castle in the Nordic countries to have been built to serve as a hotel. Valtionhotelli (‘the state hotel’), originally known as Grand Hôtel Cascade, has accommodated aristocracy from St Petersburg and other visitors since the beginning of the 20th century. Imatran Valtionhotelli was once again chosen as the most beautiful building in Finland in 2017.
The view from the hotel rooms is also beautiful. The rapids are surrounded by the first nature reserve in Finland. The groves of pine trees and deciduous trees in Kruununpuisto, founded in 1842, provide cover for human-sized giant’s kettles.
Imatra residents have always had an appreciation for culture. Physical culture is represented by two spas located within six kilometers of the city centre, while intellectual culture is represented by Theatre Imatra, an international theatre festival and a high-level ballet event.
The doors to the newest theatre in Finland have seen many people pass through. In 2017, the theatre had more visitors than Imatra has residents.
There is no shortage of specialities in Imatra. In the winter, perfect acoustics can be found in the Soundome ice igloo erected on the bank of the Vuoksi River, where musicians perform with instruments carved from ice.
The city is also doing well financially. In present-day Finland, it is a downright miracle that Imatra’s financial statements have been positive for ten years in a row.