Suomen kansallisihme

Imatra has declared itself a national wonder of Finland

Imatra has declared itself a national wonder today at 11 a.m. in Helsinki.

Why?

The reasoning is sound. Imatra is a South-Karelian city near the Eastern border with many unique things on both a national and an international scale.

Here are some examples:

  • The oldest tourist attraction in Finland and the national landscape: The Imatrankoski Rapids run through the city. The rapids were the first tourist attraction to draw visitors from abroad in the footsteps of Catherine the Great (1772).
  • The oldest nature reserve in Finland Kruununpuisto was established in 1842. The park is located right in the centre of town.
  • The largest hydro-electric power plant in Finland (Fortum).
  • The largest street race in the Nordic countries and the only street race in Finland: once every summer, motorcycles race through the city at more than 300 kilometres per hour (The Imatranajo Road Racing International Championship).
  • The most beautiful building in Finland: Valtionhotelli (the state hotel in Imatra).
  • Teatteri Imatra (city theatre) attracts more visitors than there are residents in the city. The newest theatre house in Finland was built only a little over 30 kilometres away from the second newest theatre house in Finland.
  • An igloo as a music hall: you can listen to a concert performed on instruments made out of ice in the SounDome igloo on cold February nights.
  • A strong economy: the city has been in the black for the past ten years. Even though the recession has been tough, Imatra has managed pretty well.
  • National teams train here: Ukonniemi, a unique sports and wellbeing tourism cluster, has been established on the shores of Lake Saimaa in just ten years. It acts as the training ground for national sports teams and international ice hockey teams. The Ukonniemi-Rauha area offers more accommodation than a large Finnish city.
  • Three athletes in the Winter Olympics: investing in sports has created a good basis for success. The city is home to three Olympic athletes participating in the Winter Olympics (biathlonist Venla Lehtonen, cross-country skier Lari Lehtonen and snowboarder Matti Suur-Hamari).
  • Three spa hotels: there are a total of three spas within a six-kilometre radius (Valtionhotelli, Imatra Spa and Holiday Club Saimaa).
  • The largest log hotel in the Nordic countries.
  • The longest ski track on first snow: every year in October, the longest ski track on first snow in southern Finland is opened in Imatra (5 km).
  • A border crossing in two cities: a border crossing is located just a few kilometres from the centre of Imatra. A Finnish and a Russian city meet there (Svetogorsk). There are only a few border crossings like this, between cities.

The examples above are a testament to the fact that Imatra truly is unique. The city is more than a beautiful landscape and a few attractions.

‘National landscapes represent the Finnish identity, and Imatra, a national wonder, is no exception because it depicts Finnish history, starting with the Kalevala. Even though life has been tough over the centuries, people on the shores of the river have always pulled themselves up by the bootstraps, created industrialisation and tourism history as well as promoting culture and raising world-class athletes,’ says Chair of the City Council Niina Malm.

Furthermore, Imatra is the most well-known city in Finland with fewer than 50,000 residents (Innolink study 5/2017).

The small town identity doesn’t have to be small.

What does declaring the city a wonder mean for us in the future?

We will be working towards ensuring that the wonder never ceases. We promise the following:

1) The city was in the black for the tenth time in a row last year. We promise to continue this responsible financial management without the need to raise taxes.
2) We will rebuild all our schools in the space of three years. They are going to be ecological and healthy schools for the future.
3) Ukonniemi in Imatra has become an attraction for top international athletes. We promise to increase the number of sports that can be trained for in Ukonniemi, improve services and attract even more top foreign and Finnish athletes.

City executives, i.e. City Council Chair Niina Malm, City Board Chair Anna Helminen and City Manager Rami Hasu were present at the declaration event. Also present were actors Sinikka Sokka and Mikko Kivinen, reporter Jaakko Selin and Paul Hickman of restaurant Roster, the best restaurant manager in Finland. They all have a special connection to Imatra.

The event also saw the unveiling of the Imatran Kansallisihme (Imatra, a national wonder) website at kansallisihme.fi.

Press images are available at: https://imatra.kuvat.fi/kuvat/

Further information:

City Council Chair Niina Malm, tel. +358 (0)20 617 2300, niina.malm@imatra.fi
City Board Chair Anna Helminen, tel. +358 (0)40 548 3790, anna.helminen@imatra.fi
City Manager Rami Hasu, tel. +358 (0)20 617 2203, rami.hasu@imatra.fi
Please direct any press material and interview enquiries to: Katri Storhammar, tel. +358 (0)20 617 6677, katri.storhammar@imatrabasecamp.fi