A high church, made of concrete and designed to look like a fish – but only when you look at it from above. A block of flats – The Great Wall – the biggest in the whole of Scandinavia when it was built. The first suburban area of blocks of flats in Tampere. And a busy boulevard where there was once nothing more than potato fields belonging to the townspeople. Kaleva is all this and much more, a classic and stylish urban residential area of some 15,000 inhabitants that has maintained its cool 50’s look. The name of the neighbourhood refers to the Finnish national epic Kalevala and most of the streets are named after characters from the old tales.
The former potato fields have given way to Sammonkatu, a lively avenue that has kept its shops and restaurants even in the turmoil of today’s urban changes. At the west end of the street, near the city centre, the monumental Kaleva church – the fish – oversees the neighbourhood from the rocky hill of Liisankallio. To the north of the church are the “Kaleva skyscrapers”, a group of tower-like blocks of flats that were a real tourist attraction back when they were constructed, and they still look great! Besides several schools, Kaleva has a swimming centre that serves a wide range of users: senior citizens, recreational swimmers and competitive athletes alike. There is a plan to build an outdoor swimming complex in the same area in the near future. Kaleva is constantly being developed and new residential blocks have been built in the 1990’s and 2000’s. At the eastern end of Sammonkatu is a commercial centre with a large supermarket and several special shops.
On top of the ridge, at the southern edge of Kaleva, is the large cemetery of Kalevankangas. Its oldest parts date back to the 1880’s and it is the final resting place of several local heroes and celebrities. On the other side of the ridge, lush villas look towards the south, and below, between the railway and Lake Iidesjärvi is an area of blocks of flats called Järvensivu.
Although it is located almost in the city centre, Iidesjärvi has miraculously maintained some of its wetlands that are currently popular sites for bird watching. On the southern side of the lake, the idyllic neighbourhoods of Viinikka and Nekala offer the charm of a different era. Viinikka was built to ease the housing shortage of the working class in the 1910’s and 1920’s and construction of Nekala followed soon after that. Viinikka church, inaugurated in 1932, is worth a visit: its stylish serenity is captivating. One of Nekala’s attractions is a green, charming allotment area with its tiny cottages and huge apple trees. The garden area, originally from the 1930’s, has remained popular over the decades.