History of Tampere

Maisemakuvassa satakunnan silta, koski sekä patosilta.

The habitation on the narrow neck of land between Lake Näsijärvi and Lake Pyhäjärvi, right at the crossroads of the northern and southern waterways, dates back as far as to the 7th century. In the 13th century, the area began to develop into an important trading place. In the 18th century, the Tammerkoski rapids that connect the two local lakes were discovered as a significant source of hydropower. By decision of King Gustav III of Sweden, a new city – Tampere – was established in the Swedish realm in 1779. At the time, the land area of the city reached from the Tammerkoski rapids to the border of Pispala (3.2 square kilometres), and there were less than 200 inhabitants.

In 1950 the population passed the 100 000 mark, and in 2003 there were already 200 000 inhabitants.

In slightly over two centuries that modest village has been expanded into a vibrant city with over 250,000 inhabitants. Today, Tampere is the third largest municipality and the second largest urban area in Finland. Thanks to regional mergers, the total surface area of Tampere has increased from approximately three to just under 700 square kilometres.

Year Merged area Surface area, km2 Population
1877 Kyttälä 11,4 approx. 3000
1920 Hatanpää 18,5 459
1937 Pispala etc. 28,6 9 287
1947 Messukylä 82,5 7340
1950 Lielahti 15,4 1 828
1966 Aitolahti 89,5 2117
1972 Teisko 431,3 2 831

In the 1820s, Tampere took the first steps toward becoming the first industrial city in Finland. Of the early industrial facilities, the most notable one was the cotton mill founded by the Scottish-born James Finlayson and further developed by Wilhelm Nottbeck. The development of actual large-scale industrial life in Tampere began in the 1850s. In addition to the textile industry, the most prominent industrial fields were the metal, iron, and wood processing industries, followed later by the shoe and leather industries. The strong industrialisation had a distinctly visible impact on the city both externally and internally: the red-brick factories and chimneys along the banks of the Tammerkoski rapids became elements for which Tampere would be known for decades to come. The population of Tampere increased rapidly toward the end of the 1800s, and at the turn of the century, there were 35,000 people living in the city. Most of them belonged to the working class and worked in the local factories. 

During the Finnish Civil War that followed the country’s newly declared independence, the decisive battles took place in Tampere in the spring of 1918. Even after the war, Tampere remained the centre of the Finnish textile industry; Finlayson, Pellavatehdas and Suomen Trikoo Oy were among the largest textile industry companies in the Nordic countries. After the Second World War, the manufacture of war reparation products boosted the metal industry in Tampere, which further increased the numbers of the working age population. A significant regional merger took place in 1947 when Messukylä was annexed to Tampere, and shortly after that the construction of the eastern urban areas of Kaleva and Kissanmaa was commenced. In 1950, the population of Tampere exceeded 100,000 inhabitants.  

In addition to significant equity funding, the strong industrialisation also required world-class technical expertise. The city managed to maintain this level of competence even after the old industrial fields gradually began to give way to new ones. The modernisation of traditional skills and competencies was made possible by the establishment of higher education institutions in Tampere: In the 1960s, Tampere saw the establishment of a university and a school of technology (now merged into the new Tampere University) alongside the pre-existing secondary-level institutions, and the technology centres of Hermia and Finnmedi followed a little later. As a result of this structural change, Tampere became the centre of modern state-of-the-art technology: The strengths of the city included vehicle engineering and automation, medical technology, information technology, and communications and new media.

Finland's first modern factory building (Finlayson) 

Finland's first paper machine (Frenckell)  

First electric light in the Nordic countries

First locomotive manufactured in Finland 

First automobile manufactured in Finland 

Finland's first radio broadcast

Finland's first ice hall

World's first NMT call

World's first biodegradable implant

World's first GSM call

World's first walking forest machine

World's first Personal Digital Assistant (Nokia)

World's first second-generation Personal Digital Assistant (Nokia)

In Tampere, life has never been just about the work; instead, arduous labour has always been balanced off by a vibrant and diverse cultural life. Tampere has had a high-quality library institution – which is an essential part of the Finnish culture – already in the 19th century. Moreover, the strong labour movement in Tampere led to the establishment of the country's first centre for popular education, the adult education centre of Tampere. Around that same time, Tampere was also turning into Finland's most prominent theatre city. Today, there are more than a dozen professional theatres operating in the city. Moreover, Tampere is renowned as the city of writers and literature – a reputation which is based particularly on the emergence of strong prose authors that began in the 1950s.  

Tampere is also a famous and versatile sports city. Tampere is particularly known as the birthplace of Finnish ice hockey, as this is where it all began in 1926. Furthermore, both European and World Championships in a variety of different sports have been organised in Tampere over the decades. The 2022 IIHF Men's Ice Hockey World Championship were played in Tampere and Helsinki 13.-29.5.2022. The 2023 IIHF Men's Ice Hockey World Championship were played in Tampere and Riga, Latvia 12.-28.5.2023. The games were played at the Nokia Arena in Tampere, which was completed at the end of 2021.
The largest conference and concert centre in the Nordic countries, Tampere Hall, was built in 1990. It strengthened the city's music sector and made Tampere an important meeting and conference city even by international standards. Completed in 2021, the Nokia Arena is an entertainment centre in the heart of Tampere, which opened a new era of event experiences in Tampere. The arena has up to 15 000 seats, a hotel, a wide range of event facilities and numerous restaurants. The design language of the arena and the Tampere Deck is the work of internationally renowned architect Daniel Libeskind.

See also

Find out about the 1918 civil war, Tampere's ice hockey history or walk in the steps of rock legend Juice Leskinen.

Culture routes

Updated 19.9.2023