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Tampere, with its red-bricked industrial heritage and urban rock’n’roll culture, is known as the Manchester of Finland. But this Finnish city has some quirky, typically Finnish characteristics too: discover one of Tampere’s best-kept secrets, Amuri, a charmingly quaint district with museums and cafés.
Amuri district is located in what is nowadays considered central Tampere. The area’s first wooden houses were built in the 1860s for the working class people who came to Tampere in search for a job in one of the city’s prosperous business, such as the linen company Finlayson. At the time, Amuri district was located some distance away from the immediate city centre. This is why the area was named after the distant land of Amuri in Russia (now known as the Russian Far East), as a lot of Finns at the time also sought employment from the eastern reaches of the empire.
The low, one-storey wooden houses were meant for communal living, and two to four rooms would share a kitchen. One room occupied one family. The historic wooden house area survived all the way until the 1970s and 1980s when most of them were demolished to make way to block of flats. Only one block survived, and this is now the Amuri Museum of Workers’ Housing, where the visitor is whisked away to the 19th-century charms of Finnish lifestyle.
The Amuri Museum of Workers’ Housing includes five original houses with an inner courtyard with four more buildings. The museum showcases how the working class of Tampere used to live between 1882 and 1973. There is also a shoemaker’s shop, bakery, paper shop and a popular communal sauna built on the examples of Tampere’s other 19th-century communal saunas, which have survived until our days.
A tour in the Workers’ Housing throws the visitor in the cosy and quaint feel of olden times – a feeling that can be finished off by a delicious coffee at Café Amurin Helmi, one of Tampere’s best coffee shops. Café Amurin Helmi not only serves a dose of nostalgia but also good Finnish coffee and traditional bakery products from the café’s own bakery.
With its working-class background, many influential Finnish artists, such as the Nobel prize-winning author F.E. Sillanpää and one of Finland’s most esteemed writers Väinö Linna have lived in the Amuri district.
Nowadays, the Amuri district is part of Tampere’s city centre and hosts, for example, Tampere’s main library with a café and Tampere Art Museum. The museum is Finland’s third-oldest art museum with the second-largest art collection. The collection includes, for example, the Moominvalley collection of Tove Jansson’s original illustrations, which can be seen in the world’s largest Moomin Museum at Tampere-talo, about two kilometres from Amuri.
After strolling around Amuri’s 19th-century block, it is easy to get back to the hustle and bustle of modern Tampere by crossing the Hämeenpuisto park in the east, where the main shopping area of Tampere is located. In the south, Amuri district is lined by the beautiful hill of Pyynikki, where you can get magnificent views over the city, as well as kick-ass doughnuts. For an adrenaline rush after, head north of Amuri, across the train tracks to one of Finland’s biggest amusement parks, Särkänniemi.