23.06.2018 /1: Midsummer Road Trip to Imatra

Waking up to a Midsummer day after a cold, rainy, and windy Midsummer Eve, we quite didn’t plan to travel near the eastern border of Finland just for evening tea. As the day progressed, we decided that we want to do something, and not just sit around musing why there isn’t anything much to do in Finland during midsummer.

Enter Google Maps.

We had to make a pit stop in Järvenpää, a small town near Vantaa. Why? To deliver some chocolate for my Mum who lives there. After that we were good to go! Even though the time was already nearing 5 pm when we started from Järvenpää, it didn’t stop us – this was Midsummer and daylight would be available until midnight, if not even later!


Imatra is a small town near the border between Finland and Russia. Actually, the nearest town on the Russian side of the border, Svetogorsk, is only 7 km away from the Imatra town centre!

“Why is that”, one might ask, and it is a good question! Prior to the World War II, Svetogorsk used to be known as Enso, and the town belonged to Finland. After the war ended, and the Soviet Union made peace with Finland, they wanted Enso as their own due to the paper mill that was built there. Hence, the small work town of Enso was then renamed Svetogorsk, and made part of the Soviet Union.
However, even today, the close ties between the twinned towns can be seen – there are still people who travel from Finland to Russia to work at the paper mill!

In itself, Imatra is quite small town; about 27 000 people call it as their home. But due to the attraction of the River Vuoksi’s rapids, known as Imatrankoski rapids, it has been a town to visit for the longest time.

The rapids have been so popular over the times that a hotel was built on the banks of them so that the visitors could hear and see them on all the times of the day and night.  The current building of the Imatran Valtionhotelli hotel dates back to 1903. This jugend style castle has been voted as the most beautiful building in Finland for several times, most recently in 2017.

In case you were wondering about the coat of arms of Imatra with the three lightning bolts? No, not because of the hydroelectric dam, but because Imatra, a vibrant town, was formed from three municipalities after the war (as some of the former municipalities lost up to 80% of their land in the peace treaty).

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