Imatra’s travel centre is located alongside Vuoksi, at the western end of Mansikkakoski railway bridge, which was constructed in 1933. Vuoksi is a key element in the cityscape of Imatra and the outlet of Vuoksi’s waterway to Laatokka. Vuoksi and its rapids were formed with enormous force approximately 5,700 years ago.
The route starts from the travel centre and heads towards the tourism area of Ukonniemi through the district of Karhumäki. Hostel Ukonlinna, which is located next to the beach of Ukonniemi, is a traditional hostel, which offers accommodation and cafe services. The walls of the downstairs cafe room are decorated with sports-themed oil paintings from 1945.
From Ukonniemi we return to Imatrankoski via new residential areas. Imatrankoski is the wide-stretching centre of the City of Imatra. The rugged Imatrankoski, and its Kruunupuisto park, is a national landscape and Finland’s oldest tourist attraction, which has been visited and admired since the 1700s. In the 1920s the bed of the rapids was dammed for the production of electricity. The dam, power plant and switching station of Imatrankoski represent the industrial classism of the 1920s. The power plant was deployed in 1929, and after that, water has been let to flow during shows. The rapids bed that splits the centre of Imatra is an impressive sight, even when it is dry.
Hotel Valtionhotelli, which is located alongside the rapids of Imatra, is a jugend castle built in 1903 that was designed by Usko Nyström. Before the stone-built hotel, two wooden hotels that were favoured by St. Petersburg’s upper class were located there, which however burnt at the end of the 1900s. During the civil war, the hotel operated as a military hospital and during World War II, it provided premised for Kannas’s military cadre and later the military administration department’s headquarters. Imatra’s air defence centre was in the basement of the hotel. After the war, the hotel was renovated according to architect Aarne Ervi’s plans, and between 1985-1987 it was restored to its original state. Imatran Valtionhotelli has been voted as Finland’s most beautiful building!
Kruununpuisto park is located in the surroundings of Imatrankoski, and is Finland’s oldest nature protection area. It was established at the order of Russian Emperor Nicolai I in 1842. Catherine the Great had visited Imatra to admire the rapids already in 1772. Kruunupuisto is located around Imatrankoski, and in addition to the rapids, there are other attractions in the area, such as several memorials. In addition, the Kaupunkipuro stream flows through the park. The picturesque upper part of it attracts urban residents and tourists to relax, and the natural lower part operates as a reproduction and production area of rare trout populations
After crossing the bridges of Imatrankoski, it is worth visiting Kuparintie from the roundabout, to familiarise in industrial residential areas that are typical to Imatra. Outokumpu Oy commissioned the construction of the Kupari area for its employees between 1935-1944. The design was completed by architect W. Palmqvist. The five four-family houses located along Kuparitie are brick-built and are equipped with a rare säteritak ("manorial roof"). There are 28 low wooden two-family semi-detached houses. They have a hipped roof and have a staggered siding. In terms of style, the brick houses have features of repetitive classism, the wooden houses mainly represent a mixture of functionalism. The area of wooden houses and grid plans has a very park-like feel to it. During the war, the copper factory was moved to Harjavalta.
From the area of Kupari, we return to Vuoksi via the district of Rajapatsas. At the eastern shore of Vuoksi, we continue north along the pedestrian and bicycle path; near Mansikkala, the white Culture House Virta and the dark Town Hall of Imatra, which were designed by Arto Sipinen, can be seen on Vuoksi’s other shore. Before the highway, we turn right on to Kartanokatu and head towards Siitola Manor House, which is one of Vuoksi’s old courts. The current main building of the manor house has been designed by architect Uno Ullberg at the beginning of the 1900s. In the vicinity of Siitola Manor House’s stone granary, we cross the motorway over a bridge and then immediately turn on to a bicycle path, which we follow past the district of Vuoksenniska to the gate of Kaukopää’s factory.
Enso-Gutzeit Oy’s Kaukopää factory area and its gates were built between 1934-1936 according to architect Väinö Vähäkallio’s overall plan. The original factory gate is still in place. The workers’ housing area Lättälä near the factory gate, and the management’s residential area Insinööriniemi which is located further away on the shore of Saimaa, are among the most significant residential areas from the era of functionalism. The factory’s residential areas were built at the same time as the factory buildings.
Next, we arrive at Imatra’s most famous architectural site, the Three Cross Church, which is among Alvar Aalto’s 1950s production, and is a nationally significant building. The church was introduced in 1958. The church hall consists of three parts that can be separated into their own premises with mobile partition walls.
The district of Vuoksenniska which exudes industrial history was formed at a traffic hub, and developed, along with forest industry, in to a lively business district. One of Vuoksenniska’s landmarks is the cinema building Bio Vuoksi, which represents the 1950s functionalism, and was renovated at the end of the 1990s.
The route crosses Vuoksi for a second time at Tainionkoski, where Vuoksi’s industrialisation began at the end of the 1800s. The construction work of Tainionkoski's power plant and dam began at the beginning of the 1920s. The residential area of Niskalampi, which is located close to the power plan, is an old industrial workers’ housing area, where the oldest inhabited building date back to the beginning of the 1900s. There are also newer buildings in the area. Niskalampi is a nationally significant built-up culture environment.
Finally, the route returns to the shore of Vuoksi, where the industrial workers’ housing museum is located at Ritikanranta. The museum’s apartments describe the housing culture of Imatra’s industrial workers, and its changes, from the early 1900s to the 1960s. The stone-built maintenance building has been renovated to its original state.
It is only a short distance to the travel centre. Next, you can continue under the motorway bridge to the Culture Centre Virta, where Imatra’s city museum, art museum and library, as well as Saimaa Geopark’s information centre and the Karelia hall are located. The art museum’s collection focuses on Finnish, particularly southwestern Finnish art, from the 1900s, where some is showcased. The museum also has temporary exhibitions. The city museum focuses on the history of Imatra.