Is it possible to create a Finnish historical project about travel art without a respectful salute towards both the province of Savo and the famous Puijo Ridge?
Of course not.
Mrs (Ethel Brilliana) Alec Tweedie, a distinguished English lady who related her travel reminiscences about Finland in 1896, tried to do so, in a manner of speaking. She couldn’t understand why the Finns insisted on erecting observation towers on every single little hill – a favourite pastime of the local branches of the Tourist Society of the time – although when she visited a particular tower in a particular location she instantly softened:
‘It was at Kuopio, which town we had just left – perhaps the most beautifully situated in all Finland – and as the night when we arrived chanced to be particularly brilliant, the view from the top of that outlook tower will be long treasured in remembrance!’
The American professor of geography and expert on Finland, Eugene van Cleef also stood at the top of the same tower in the 1930s and summarised his thoughts:
‘The view from Puijo Hill is as if the beauty of Finland were gathered in a single painting. In the same way that the smell of a thousand roses can be concentrated in a small crystal vase, we have here all the concentrated essence of all the shimmering Finnish landscapes gathered together in one.’
Three different towers have stood on Puijo Hill since the beginning. The first one was built in 1856. The second tower stood there for half a century after 1906. Finally, however, the proud stone tower had to give way to the soaring concrete one that was inaugurated by President Urho Kekkonen himself in 1963. And there it still stands, a monument to over 160 years of tourism in the heart of Finland.
But we’re sorry! We think we forgot to answer the classic question: Yes, the restaurant at the top of the tower does actually revolve – at the rate of one revolution per hour
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