Trip to Saimaa. Part 3 – Imatrankoski Rapids

As you may remember, some time ago we went to Lake Saimaa on a fishing trip. I already covered Lake Saimaa (here) and Lappeenranta (here). This is the last blog post in this series (yay!), where I’ll tell you about Imatrankoski Rapids.

These rapids are located in the city of Imatra, which is approximately a 30 min drive by car from Lappeenranta.

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When I started taking pictures, adjusting photo settings and taking a closer look at the rocks, I noticed something unusual – rocks consist of many layers of “stones”. They must be quite old, I thought. I learned the exact age of these mountains only when we came back home. They were formed more than 5000 years ago. Crazy!

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Another interesting fact about Imatrankoski – it is the first tourist attraction site in Finland. In July 1772 Catherine the Great visited the rapids, and that was a starting date for touristic activities in this region.

In 19th century Imatrankoski was an extremely popular place. Finland at that time was an autonomous Grand Duchy of Russia. Apparently, back then Russians liked to go to Finland for the sake of travel as the Finnish infrastructure was way better than Russian, and this was already a good enough reason to visit Finland – to experience better roads, hotels and to do some shopping. Rapids were an added bonus 🙂 Also, in 1892 a rail road made it easier to go from Saint Petersburg to Finland, and number of Russian guests increased even more.

To accommodate tourists, Grand Hotel Cascade d’Imatra was build in 1903 in a close proximity to the rapids. It’s worth mentioning that Finns realized the touristic potential of the rapids earlier, and even built hotels on the banks of the river Vuoksi, but they were made of wood and destroyed by fire in 1890s.

Grand Hotel looked a lot like a medieval castle, and was extremely popular among Saint Petersburg’s elite. Also, this was “the place” for Finnish couples to go on a honeymoon.

During both world wars the hotel turned into hospital. During the Second World War, including the Continuation War, the hotel also served as a headquarters of the Karelian Army and General Carl Mannerheim’s headquarters.

The hotel is still operating, by the way. It undergone a major renovation, and in mid 2000s the initial colors and overall outlook were restored.

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And this is a bonus for Russian speakers – a funny translation spotted next to the hotel 🙂

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The Power station built in Imatra in 1920s enabled development of various industries. Rapids were blocked, and since then it’s possible to see the dam opening only on certain times of the day in summer.

Overall, the region became more manufacture and industry oriented, and the amount of tourists decreased compare to the previous century.

Another historical place we visited was Kruununpuisto Park, the oldest nature park in Finland founded in 1842 by the Russian tzar Nicolas I. It’s right next to the Grand Hotel. The park is a quite and lovely place featuring a lot of old rocks.

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That’s all for now 🙂 Hope you enjoyed reading! Have a great weekend, everyone!

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