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Story behind the Sauna Capital of the World

12.08.2021

Since 2018 Tampere has been known as the Sauna Capital of the World. The title was earned with high level public saunas. Tampere also has the most public saunas in Finland. Both International Sauna Association and Finnish Sauna Society advocated the title for Tampere. 

The status as the Sauna Capital is based on saunas being of high level and Tampere being home to most public saunas in Finland. The history of the sauna culture in the city goes back to the oldest public sauna still functioning: Rajaportti Sauna in the district of Pispala, Tampere. 

Finnish Sauna Society has stated, that Tampere being the sauna capital, promotes the status of Finnish sauna both nationally and internationally. The international sauna boom continues to grow and sauna is especially interesting to Japanese. For example popular virtual sauna experiences from Tampere to Japan have been arranged recently.

Visit Tampere has gathered regions public saunas together and they can be found from saunacapital.com. The web pages also provide tips and guidelines for sauna goers. 

UNESCO’s List of Intangible Cultural Heritage

In 2020 the sauna culture from Finland has been inscribed on the UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The sauna culture is the first Finnish element on UNESCO’s list. 

Heating a sauna, the customs and traditions related to sauna bathing, as well as sauna in songs, beliefs, and folklore for example are part of this living intangible cultural heritage. 

The Finnish Heritage Agency is preparing protection for three public saunas by special legislation. These saunas are the Kotiharju and Arla in Helsinki and the Rajaportti sauna in Tampere.