Kotka National Urban Park is the seventh urban park in Finland and was established on the 29th of September in 2014 in the Langinkoski Imperial Fishing Lodge for the Russian Tsar Alexander III now a national heritage area.
Kotka National Urban Park is a combination of nature, landscaping, history and architecture. It unites the city’s main attractions into one coherent network along which it is easy to move from period built up areas to natural environments. In addition to different thematic green areas, the National Urban Park consists of grand urban architecture framing Finland’s largest open-air sculpture promenade, historic fortresses and the Sunila papermill designed by architect Alvar Aalto as well as natural environments of the Kymijoki river and vast archipelago to name a few. Island hopping is made easy with “tuuri” boats that embark from Sapokka close to the city centre.
Fortresses tell stories
The strait of Ruotsinsalmi a part of Kotka National Park was an arena for battles between two dominant powers: Russians and Swedes. During the penultimate war between Sweden and Russia which lasted between 1789-1790 Sweden was again trying to retrieve lost territories in two naval battles of Ruotsinsalmi. The Russians won the first battle and the Swedes the second. After a catastrophic defeat at sea the Russians by order from Catherine the Great, began to construct fortresses to protect St. Petersburg from Swedish invasion. The fortresses of Fort Slava (Kukouri), Fort Elizabeth (Varissaari), Fort Catherine and Kyminlinna fortress were realized in Kotka.
The industrial revolution
The forest industry and paper have always played an important part in the industrialization of Kotka. The river Kymijoki was utilized for delivering timber from the Northern parts of Finland, pulp factories were placed on the seashore from where goods were exported abroad. To accommodate the influx of workers housing areas were constructed in many areas. In Karhula, the Sunila paper mill and residential areas were designed by architect Alvar Aalto and workers’ housing incorporated such novelties as central heating and individual bathrooms.
Urbanity and nature side by side
The suburbs of Kotka enjoy close interaction with nature areas such as the rapids of the river Kymijoki. The nature preservation areas offer unique recreational possibilities for fishing and kayaking. Even the Tsar Alexander III was tempted by the river to spend summers in the Imperial Fishing Lodge in Langinkoski that still makes for a popular site for tourists and locals alike.