Saynatsalo Town Hall designed by Alvar Aalto.

© Claudio Divizia/Shutterstock

Säynätsalon Kunnantalo

Top choice in The Finnish Lakeland

One of Aalto's most admired works, this town hall was conceived as a 'fortress of democracy' and constructed between 1949 and 1952. Its sturdy brick tower references the medieval palazzi communale (town halls) Aalto had admired in Italy, but the grassy inner courtyard bathes the interior with light and reflects a relationship with nature that is distinctively Nordic. Guided tours (no booking necessary) visit the council chamber, Artek-furnished library and meeting rooms. The complex is remarkably intact and utterly magnificent.

To arrange overnight accommodation in the town hall building (single €85, two-/four-person apt €150/250) or to visit outside summer, email caretaker Harri Taskinen on

Säynätsalo island is south of Jyväskylä. The most enjoyable way to reach it is to take the Alvar Aaalto architectural cruise operated by Päijänne Risteilyt Hilden in July and August. At other times, drive or take bus 16, 16M or 21 (€4.70, 30 minutes, every 30 minutes) – get off at the SS-Kunnantalo stop.

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