Saturday, 22 March 2014

Kajaani, Finland
- a town and a castle up north

Kajaani city, founded in 1651, lies on the Oulujoki (Oulu river), southeast of the Oulujärvi (Lake Oulu), Finland.

The reference here is not for remoteness - Kajaani is easy to reach - but about its location: between the Gulf of Bothnia and the northeastern european fronteer with Russia, close to the arctic circle and Lapland, it's still a very cosy and civilized little town. With a castle.

Kajaani looks idyllic in the luxurious pine forest lan dscape surrounding lake Oulu, the 'Lake District' of Finland.

Location: 64° 13′ N,  27° 44′ E , some 300 km south of the Arctic circle.

Population: ~38 000

The central square (Kajaanin Tori), also the market place, is where most things happen. The town center spreads around the market and along the riverside.

The oldest building in the square is the Town Hall from 1831, designed by C. L. Engel's office.

The small wood-built house serves now for public events.

The Kajaanin Parish Church

The Evangelic-Lutheran church is one of the finest examples of the new Gothic architectural movement, originated in mid-18th century in England. It was completed in 1896.

The church is entirely made out of wood. It was designed by a Finnish architect Jacob Ahrenberg.

The wooden art nouveau Rautatieasema (Railway Station) , one of the town's architectural prides:

Built between 1904 and 1905, when the railway tracks where extended to the 'remote' town of Kajaani, it is probably the most beautiful railway station in Finland.

The building is under a special protection for its cultural and historical value.

Kajaanin Teatteri, the town theatre, enjoys national esteem:

The Kajaanin Theatre was established in 1969 and is one of the most respected theatres in Finland, attracting audiences from all across the country.

The most notable annual cultural events in Kajaani are Kajaanin Runoviikko (The Kajaani Poetry Week) and Kainuun JazzKevät (The Kainuu Jazz Spring).

The Kajaanin hosts theater and musical shows as well as music concerts.

Purola neighborhood

Purola is Kajaani's up town. It is located south of the city, overlooking Kajaani River.

Purolassa is a set of U-streets with lots of wooden houses with mansard roofs.

The houses are most likely from the early 20th century.

Kainuun Pirtti cabin, the arts centre.

Kainuun Pirtti is an old building in the most historic area of Kajaani, and maybe the oldest in Kajaani: it started as a library around 1820, then later served as a school.

More recently it has been a 'Skill Shop' - a chain of arts and crafts shop serving as a Craft Centre, which hosts courses, among others, knitting and spinning.

Kajaani Castle

The castle in Kajaani was built in 1604. At first the fort only encompassed a stone wall, two turrets and wooden buildings erected between them. The castle was blown up during the Great Wrath, or Great Northern War, in 1716.

The castle ruins (1) under the bridge. Kainuun Pirtti (2) is on the entry road to the center (5).

Kajaanin Linna, as the Finns say, is nowadays just a ruin, but it once was a strong and fearful castle at 64° 13' N, in the remote wilderness of north Finland.

'Tervakanava' tar canal and the castle ruins.

Kajaani castle is the last medieval style fortification in the Nordic countries. Unlike some central European castles, it is not a royal or aristocratic castle, but a solid fortification to protect the region from Russians and oversee movements on the inland waterway. It was so formidable that throughout the 1600s the Russians did not even attempt an attack.

See more:

Paltaniemi church

This is a small village by the lake, with a famous picture church, from 1726: the interior was completed between 1778 and 1781.

This unique wooden church was built in 1726. It houses highly valuable wall and ceiling paitings from the late 18th Century.

One of the best preserved paintings by Granberg portrays 'The Last Judgement'. It is located above the main entrance. The top part illustrates the joys of Heaven and the bottom the misery of Hell.

The paintings were created by Emanuel Granberg. Over the years the paintings have suffered substantial damage. 

The wooden pulpit, also painted in blue and yellow-ochre.

Oulujärvi, the lake

Oulujärvi (Oulu lake), with an area of 928 square kilometres, is the fifth largest lake in the country. The lake is drained by the Oulu River, which flows northwest to the Gulf of Bothnia, the northern extreme of the Baltic Sea.

The lake has some long sandy beaches with swimming facilities, where Kajaani residents flow in summer.

Pines help to fix the sand dune on the island of Arjannsaari .

Some are on small islands in the lake, like Arjannsaari island, with sand dunes.
It's also popular for fishing - salmon mainly, but also bream, trout, perch - and canoeing.


The nordic, almost arctic, sunsets by the lake are often gorgeous, one of many marvels at these latitudes: