Harju ridge & Vesilinna observation tower

Julia Kivelä

Distance to the target from Kompassinaukio in Jyväskylä:

13 min.

Ihantolantie 5
40100 Jyväskylä

Paikallinen sää

Lämpötila: 5.7°C Cloudy, klo 22:50

Harju ridge & Vesilinna observation tower

The Harju ridge is a pine forest ridge formation in the middle of the city of Jyväskylä and the Vesilinna with its observation tower on the top of the ridge is a recognisable landmark that can be seen everywhere the city.  Harju is also a year-round area for outdoor activities and recreation for the city dwellers, a soothing green oasis right next to the city centre. The Vesilinna Observation Tower houses the Natural History Museum and a café-restaurant. The observation tower is always open during the opening hours of the Natural History Museum or the café-restaurant. It is recommended to check the opening times of the museum and the café-restaurant from their websites before the visit.

Atop the Harju Ridge

In the summer, local joggers and tourists who come to admire the views meet on the top and the slopes of the Harju. Harju also sees physical education lessons from nearby schools, strenuous exercise on the wooden stairs on the Nisula side of the ridge, and in wintertime, even skiing and sledding. On May Day, students have traditionally gathered on the Harju slopes to see in the spring. In modern times, many families can be seen joining them.

The Nero Stairs that ascend to the top of the ridge are one of Jyväskylä’s more picturesque sights. The robust stairs, whose foot is at the edge of the city centre, were built as an unemployment relief project in 1925. The name of the stairs derives from the municipal engineer of the day, Oskar Nero.

Alvar Aalto, Finland’s most internationally renowned architect with a tremendous number of design projects in Jyväskylä, had little appreciation for the Nero Stairs. Aalto was insistent a public sauna of his design should be built at the top. But with or without the sauna, Harju with its clock and its stairs is an important part of the Jyväskylä cityscape.

The Harju Ridge Evening Song

The Harju Ridge evening song is more formally known as “Laulu Synnyinseudulle” (“A Song to My Birthplace”), composed by Aulis Raitala with lyrics by Martti Korpilahti. The evening song has been heard every summer evening from the top of the Vesilinna tower since 1976.

The evening song is heard every evening at 8 pm during the summer. Since 2000, the evening song of summer has been coupled with a Christmastime counterpart, the gentle carol “Joulun kellot” (“Christmas Bells”). The lyrics to this atmospheric Christmas carol were written by Helmi Auvinen. The poem was set to music by Armas Maasalo in 1914.

Listen to the Harju Ridge evening song here.

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