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Punkaharju - Vuoden retkikohde 2017

Natural & historical attractions


The Punkaharju ridge

Thanks to its outstanding scenery, the Punkaharju ridge has been an internationally renowned travel destination for more than two centuries. Punkaharju, with lakes glistening between the grand pine trees growing on both sides of the ridge, is the best known national scenery and strongest attraction of the area.
 
It is easy to savour the scenery from the marked routes and trails that crisscross the ridge. The clear-watered Puruvesi and Pihlajavesi lakes glisten between the tall trees on a sunny summer day. No wonder people return to Punkaharju year after year! 
 

Punkaharju Arboretum

The Punkaharju arboretum entails over 150 hectares of research forest, consisting of more than 50 species of trees, mostly conifers. Since the 1990’s, the arboretum has been thoroughly renewed and developed, aiming to collect all the conifer and hardwood species that could possibly thrive in the local conditions.

A total of 134 different species and special varieties of trees are represented in the arboretum. You can read all about the different tree families and species of as well as the special Finnish varieties from the signs.

 


The Salpa Line

Due to its location on the eastern border of Finland, Punkaharju used to be in turmoil, in turns being a part of Sweden or Russia. During the Interim Peace, a bunker line exceeding 1000 km was built on the eastern border to defend Finland against a possible Soviet invasion. The bunker line, which extended all the way from the Gulf of Finland to Salla, in Lapland, was officially named “Salpa” (bolt).
 
In 1940 – 1944 approximately 800 dugouts, 1250 machine gun nests, 130 km of dugout obstructions and more than 350 km of battle and support trenches as well as 225 km of stone anti-tank obstacles. Salpa Line constructions at the Punkaharju nature reserve are located at Kuikonniemi and Mustaniemi. Most of the constructions were filled up and cleared away after the war. The trench and dugout at Kuikonniemi were refurbished in 2001 – 2003 and are open to the public. A key to the dugout is available at the Harjutie kiosk.  
 

Kissing bridge

The Finnish travel association built the Pususilta (Kissing bridge) in the 1930’s as a shortcut from the hotel Finlandia to the Valtionhotelli. Most likely, the name derives from the romantic endearments, which the natural beauty of the surroundings inspires in couples crossing the bridge.

In 1983, the bridge was refurbished and ceremoniously opened to the public – with kisses, of course.

 


Finlandia

The hotel Finlandia was one of the most modern lodgings in Finland when it opened in 1914. Walter and Ivar Thomén designed the hotel, which shows the influences of romantic nationalism and art nouveau with a touch of baroque and renaissance themes. Only 2 weeks after the opening, World War I broke out, leaving the hotel virtually vacant. The hotel continued operations until 1935, when Finlandia went under compulsory auction and became state-owned.
 
During the winter war, the hotel operated as a military hospital and later was a rehabilitation centre for soldiers. After the wars, hotel operations were more or less successful and eventually the hotel and connected buildings became state-owned again in 1981. 
 

The Czarina’s villa

In the 1890’s there was a shortage of accommodation in Punkaharju and the Czarina’s villa was built. Sebastian Gripenberg designed the villa, which was originally named Villa Punkasyrjä. Apparently, the czarina never actually stayed at the villa and nobody really knows exactly why the villa was named after her royal highness.  Perhaps the builders considered the villa grand enough for royalty!
 
According to another story, Nicholas II and his spouse Aleksandra Feodorovna planned to visit Punkaharju, and the idea was that the czarina would stay at the villa.  
 

The old railway station

The railroad track through Punkaharju was completed in 1906 and Bruno Granholm designed the station building. At the time, the station was known as the Punkaharju station, but nowadays it is called Lusto, after the Finnish Forest museum and information centre Lusto, which was established in 1994. This station house stands out from others built in the same era because of its grandeur. A picturesque wooden gazebo also stands by the station building.
 
During the summer months, various exhibitions are displayed at the old station.  
 

Punkaharju Valtionhotelli

Valtionhotelli, located on the Punkaharju ridge, represents the oldest architecture in the area and is closely linked to the development of the Punkaharju nature reserve area, established in 1840. The wooden main building of the hotel is high on the peak of the ridge. Intendant E.B. Lohrmann designed the building as living quarters for the foresters and lodging for travellers. Valtionhotelli opened in 1845.

The separate czarina’s villa was completed in 1898. Valtionhotelli also entails separate building from 1896 with living and storage quarters and wine cellar, a log sauna by the lake as well as a pavilion by the pier.

The main building was constructed in four different parts that join the different shaped verandas and balconies together.  Decorative window frames, brackets and troughs break up the horizontal boarding.

 


Takaharju Sanitorium (Kruunupuisto)

“Takaharju, son of Punkaharju is attached to its mother via two isthmuses, the small Valkeejärvi laying in between. Slender pine trees cover the hills and dells of Takaharju. Takaharju, a year ago just a dead quiet nook in the wilderness, where a solitary rabbit or fox strayed, is now an exceptional society with its own laws, habits and pastimes, a paradise for ones consumed by tuberculosis but a place of doom for the malady.” So wrote Aamulehti about the Takaharju sanatorium, which opened up in 1903.
 
Duodecim, a Finnish physicians’ association was behind opening up the sanatorium and Onni Törnqvist (later Tarjanne) designed the building. The art nouveau style building was the longest (135m) building in Finland at the time. Aligned with the shoreline of the lake, the façade of the building optimally soaks up the sunshine. On the same grounds is a 2-story villa, now named Urhola, originally built as a residence for the senior physician. The complex also includes a log boarding house for nurses, now called Inkeritalo after the Ingrian veterans, the latest residents of the house.
 

Runeberg’s mound

The highest point of the ridge is 25 metres above the lake surface and called Runeberg’s mound after Finland’s national poet. A 3.5-metre high stone stands on the mound in honour of Runeberg. Engraved on the stone is a verse from his poem “The fifth day of July”:
 
“From this shore,
oh youngster,
a sweet piece of fathers’ land you see.” 
 
The road authority and Finnish Forest Research Institute erected the stone as a joint operation in 1939. Runeberg is known to have visited Punkaharju in June 1838, and who knows, might have written the poem onsite.