Jyväskylä was founded in 1837. The original settlement was located between Lake Jyväsjärvi and a large ridge. Over the years the ridge has become known as Harju, which simply means ridge.
Originally the ridge was quarried for its gravel - used in building projects, for the railroad, and at one time the idea was tossed around that it could be used to fill in the lake, giving the town more room to grow.
Thankfully some wise citizens realized the recreational potential of Harju, and a few paths were cleared and some benches were put into position. In 1887 a wooden viewing tower complete with cafe was built at the top of Harju. Eventually the quarrying of gravel would come to an end, leaving us with the Harju that we have today.
Approaching Harju from Gummeruksenkatu.
The stone steps were built in 1920's. Incidentally, the ice cream kiosk at the bottom of the steps is the best in Jyväskylä. They offer both student (20%) and retiree (10%) discounts as well as scoop-size options, practices which are unheard of in most Finnish ice cream shacks.
The stone steps make for a great workout, if you are into that sort of thing.
Mäntyjä ja koiranputkia aka Scots Pine (Pinus sylvestris) and Cow Parsley (Anthriscus sylvestris)
Today Harju is an urban oasis. Walking paths in the shade of lofty pines make it a great place to get away. Off in the distance, a glimpse of Hanna demonstrating her speedy Nordic Walking skills.
A view of Jyväskylän Normaalikoulu (Normal School.)
The Normal School is an educational institution where education students can gain real-world classroom experience as well as learn standard education practices. These Normaalikoulu schools are located throughout Finland and operate in conjunction with their local universities. Jyväskylän Normaalikoulu houses grades 6-9 as well as high school students.
Mäki-matin perhepuisto. Mäki-Matti Family Park
The Mäki-Matti family park provides both indoor and outdoor facilities. The old red buildings house a kitchen, bathrooms, and indoor activity areas. Outside are play areas and picnic spots.
A concerned citizen recently wrote in to the Keski-Suomalainen (our local paper)with the opinion that if Harju's trees were cut down and if the grass was mowed regularly it would be a much nicer place to spend time. I beg to differ.
Harjun Kesäteatteri-The Harju Summer Theater. This summer will feature a production of Kullervo.
There is a large building on the top of the Hill known as Vesilinna (Water Castle) which houses a water tower and an observation gallery which offers the best possible view of Jyväskylä. Vesilinna is also home to the Natural History Museum of Central Finland (Keski-Suomen Luontomuseo) and Restaurant Vesilinna.
Some views from the observation gallery.
A view of Harjon Stadion-Harju Stadium, home to soccer team FC JJK and American Football Team Jyväskylä Jaguars as well as track and field events.
Looking towards Lake Tuomiojärvi. Click here for my earlier post about this lake.
Looking towards Lake Jyväsjärvi.
Looking towards downtown.
Looking down the Harju steps. Like any good summer walk, this one ended with ice cream from the convenient kiosk, located at the bottom of the steps. My favorite flavor is currently Ingman Liquorice. Its really tasty - lemon ice cream with liquorice swirls.