The dark history of Santa's city: how Rovaniemi rose from the ashes

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After the Finnish city was razed to the ground by the German army in the second world war, architect Alvar Aalto rebuilt it to a reindeer-shaped street grid. Then Santa came to town …

As soon as you land at Rovaniemi airport in Lapland you see a reindeer. Not a real one, admittedly, but somebody in a Rudolf suit cheerily greeting passengers who have just arrived. A couple of miles from “Santa’s official airport” lies Santa Claus Village, an amusement park complete with elves, real reindeers, huskies, shops and restaurants that draws more than 600,000 visitors a year to this isolated spot at the edge of the Arctic Circle.

There are reindeer everywhere in Rovaniemi: humans dressed as them at the airport, real ones pulling sleighs at Santa Claus Village and statues of them throughout the city centre.

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#art and design
#second world war
#finland
#history
#life and style
#architecture
#christmas
#world news
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#culture
#cities