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Varkauden kaupunki
coat of arms map
Varkaus coat of arms Location of Varkaus in Finland
Basic data
State : FinlandFinland Finland
Landscape : North Savo
Administrative community : Varkaus
Geographical location 62 ° 19 ′  N , 27 ° 55 ′  E Coordinates: 62 ° 19 ′  N , 27 ° 55 ′  E
Surface: 524.55 km²
of which land area: 386.08 km²
of which inland waterways: 138.47 km²
Residents : 20,829 (Dec. 31, 2018)
Population density : 53.9 inhabitants / km²
Municipality number : 915
Language (s) : Finnish
Website :
View over the city center of Varkaus
View over the city center of Varkaus

Varkaus [ ˈvɑrkɑu̯s ] is a city in eastern Finland . The industrial city is located in the Savo region between Kuopio and Savonlinna and has 20,829 inhabitants (as of December 31, 2018).


Varkaus is located on the northern edge of the Saimaa -Seengebiets in the landscape Savo . Neighboring communities are Leppävirta in the north, Heinävesi in the northeast, Enonkoski in the southwest and Savonlinna , Rantasalmi and Joroinen in the south. Kuopio , the largest city in Eastern Finland, is 76 kilometers to the north and the capital Helsinki is 318 kilometers.

The city center is located on the north bank of a bay in the Haukivesi lake section . Varkaus has a share in the Linnansaari National Park in Haukivesi, where the rare Saimaa ringed seal occurs. Varkaus is connected to the rest of the Finnish lake district via canals and natural waterways . Immediately north of the city center begins the Unnukka Lake, which widens to the north to the Kallavesi and thus represents the sea route to the Iso-Kalla Lake system and the city of Kuopio . In total, lakes take up more than a quarter of the urban area of ​​Varkaus.


Prehistory and Swedish time

Originally the area of ​​Varkaus was inhabited by semi-nomadic Sami . In 1323 between Sweden and Novgorod closed Treaty of Nöteborg a Sami winter village on Siitinselkä Lakes is mentioned. After the establishment of the Olavinlinna Castle in Savonlinna, the area was settled by settled Finnish Schwend farmers towards the end of the 15th century , and in 1535 there was evidence of royal Swedish fishing. Settlement to Varkaus. The etymology of the name "Varkaus" is uncertain, it is first documented in 1526 as the name of a farm. The toponym may be derived from the Sami word vuörkä , "hoard, camp, hiding place", but it is also quite possible that the name actually denotes what the word varkaus means in Finnish: "theft".

Already in the middle of the 18th century there were efforts to found a town on the site of today's Varkaus, which seemed of strategic importance because of its location on a water strait of the Saimaa lake plates. In the end, however, the plans failed and the city of Kuopio was founded instead . For this purpose, the Swedish Navy established a coastal artillery base in Varkaus in 1792. This gave the place a modest economic boom, for example a bakery and a schnapps distillery were built. Attached to the naval base was a royal granary on the island of Päiviönsaari, to which the local farmers had to pay their taxes. In the Russo-Swedish War 1808–1809 , the Swedes cleared Varkaus in an orderly retreat, so that the place was taken by Russian troops on March 11, 1809 without a fight. After two months of Russian occupation, Varkaus was again taken by the Swedes without a fight, but they could only hold their own until the Russian victory in the Battle of Joroinen . At the end of the war, Varkaus, like all of Finland, fell to Russia.

Russian time

The Varkaus ironworks around 1872.
Engraving after a painting by Hjalmar Munsterhjelm .

Towards the end of the 18th century, the rapids in Varkaus began to be used to drive water wheels and mills. At the beginning of the 19th century, iron ore deposits were discovered in the lakes of Savo and the first iron works were to be built. The industrialization of Varkaus began when the Finnish Senate in 1814 the barons Gustaf Wrede gave permission in Varkaus at the Huruskoski rapids a blast furnace , an iron hammer and a forge to build a sawmill followed in 1834th

Also in the 19th century, new transport routes were opened up with the canalization of the Finnish lakes. The completion of the Taipale Canal in 1840 and the Konnus Canal in 1841, immediately north of Varkaus, connected the northern and southern parts of the Saimaa system and thus opened up large parts of eastern Finland for inland navigation. Inland shipping, and thus also Varkaus, experienced a significant boost in 1856 with the completion of the Saimaa Canal , which now enabled trips to Lake Ladoga and further into the Russian hinterland and the Baltic Sea. The machine works Warkauden Konepaja , founded in 1852, developed into one of the most important shipbuilding companies in Finland, and another large shipyard was founded in nearby Lehtoniemi in the 1880s. Larger ships soon made it necessary to expand the canals in Varkaus. The expansion of the Taipale Canal, undertaken in the famine winter of 1867, attracted numerous jobseekers from all parts of Finland, but also claimed numerous lives: in the camps, 247 workers died of epidemics that year.

By 1900 the population of Varkaus rose to 2,546. Although the place increasingly assumed urban character, until 1929 it did not have municipal self-government, but was administered by the municipalities of Leppävirta and Joroinen . The formation of its own parish among the workers was approved in 1864, the following year the church and school building was completed.

The prominent importance of industry gave rise to a strong and self-confident labor movement in Varkaus . The first strikes occurred in the 1890s, and in the years leading up to Finnish independence the conflict between the socialist-minded workers and the factory owners and their bourgeois senior employees steadily came to a head. The workers at the shipyard in Lehtoniemi founded a union in 1903-04, the workers in the factories in the city center of Varkaus in 1905. The strength of the labor movement was clearly evident in the first parliamentary elections in 1907, in which the Social Democrats received 82.5 percent of the vote in Varkaus.

Since independence

Shootings of Red Guards in Varkaus, February 1918

In the Finnish Civil War , the tensions that had grown over the years escalated. Work had already ceased in March 1917 when the news of the Russian February Revolution reached Varkaus. In November of that year the Red Guards occupied the train station and the telecommunications center of the city, the mobilization of all Red Guards took place on 26/27. January as in all of Finland on the orders of the Bolshevik leadership. While the bourgeois whites were able to secure the north and northeast of Finland quickly, Varkaus remained in the hands of the rebels as a red enclave in the white hinterland. The local Red Guard comprised around 1,500 men, but they had fewer than 200 rifles.

On February 6, 1918, the whites took up position around Varkaus and finally carried out an attack on February 21 with 1,050 soldiers, six machine guns and two artillery pieces. The red defenders offered bitter resistance, but had to retreat to the paper mill's buildings with their families the following day. There the Red Guard finally surrendered after the artillery set fire to the buildings. If twelve men died in the battles on the white side and between fifteen and 20 men on the red side, the white terror claimed many times more victims after the surrender. Immediately after the nightly surrender, between 40 and 50 Red Guards were shot on the spot. In the morning a court martial was held, which passed almost ninety death sentences and had them carried out on the spot, and numerous other Reds were transferred to prison camps. By the time the military leadership intervened and banned the court martial, 217 Red Guards were executed in Varkaus - this corresponds to 10.2 percent of the male population. In no other Finnish city did the whites act with such severity.

In 1929 the market town of Varkaus was separated from the parishes of Leppävirta and Joroinen, and in 1932 the parish of the city became independent from the parish of Leppävirta. In 1962 the place received city rights. At the beginning of 2005, the area of ​​Varkaus almost quintupled through the incorporation of the municipality of Kangaslampi .


City council

As an industrial city, Varkaus has traditionally been a stronghold of the Finnish left. The strongest political force today are the Social Democrats , who hold 16 of the 43 seats on the city council. The second largest parliamentary group is the conservative National Assembly Party with eight seats. With seven MPs the third largest group are the Christian Democrats , who, although they only play a subordinate role nationwide, were able to unite almost a sixth of the votes in Varkaus. It is followed by the left-wing alliance with five seats and the right-wing populist True Finns with three seats. The Center Party , which is the dominant force in rural Finland, plays only a minor role with three seats and eight percent of the vote in Varkaus.

Composition of the City Council (2013-2016)
Political party 2012 election results Seats
Social democrats 36.3% (+6.7) 16 (+3)
National rally party 18.0% (−1.9) 8 (−1)
Christian Democrats 15.7% (−8.6) 7 (−4)
Left alliance 11.9% (−0.1) 5 (± 0)
True Finns 9.5% (+6.4) 4 (+3)
Center Party 8.0% (+2.0) 3 (−1)
Other 0.6% (−4.5) 0 (± 0)

Town twinning

Varkaus maintains city partnerships with the following cities:

City arms

The city coat of arms designed by Olof Eriksson has been in use since 1954 and shows in the black field growing from the lower left edge of the shield a bent arm, holding an anchor crosswise, both gold . The coat of arms symbolizes the historical importance of the shipbuilding industry and shipping for Varkaus.


Stora Enso's pulp
mill in Varkaus

Varkaus lives mainly from the wood processing industry. All stages of production can be found in the city, from primary forestry through sawmills, pulp , cardboard and paper mills to downstream printing and suppliers in the chemical and mechanical engineering industries.

The largest private employer is the Stora Enso Group with around 1,400 employees . He maintains a sawmill in Varkaus, which mainly produces sawn spruce timber for the furniture and construction industries, a pulp mill and a cardboard, fine paper and printing paper mill. The Danish-owned Hartmann-Varkaus Oy operates a recycling plant that mainly uses wood and paper waste to produce egg cartons.

The Ahlström Group, which has shaped the industrial history of Varkaus from its inception, sold most of its properties and businesses to foreign investors around 1990. The American concern Honeywell acquired the Ahlström subsidiary Altim Control Oy in 1992 , which developed laboratory and sensor technology primarily for the paper industry. Honeywell currently employs around 400 people at its Varkaus site. The boiler production of the Ahlström concern was bought in 1995 by the likewise American concern Foster Wheeler . The mill also mainly supplies the Finnish paper industry.


Thanks to its central location, Varkaus is an important base for Finnish inland shipping . The city has three ports, two of which, Akonniemi and Taipale, are owned by the city. The third port on the Stora Enso site is owned by the company. A total of 417,265 tons were handled in 2005, the vast majority of which was raw wood and wood products. Ships from Varkaus can enter the Baltic Sea via the Saimaa Canal . Direct ship connections to Western Europe are possible.

Varkaus is also a major hub for road traffic. The State Road 5 , one of the main north-south connections in Finland, crosses on their section between of Mikkeli (88 kilometers south) and Kuopio (76 kilometers north) Varkaus and crosses here with the state road 23 of Jyväskylä to Joensuu . The railway line from Pieksämäki to Joensuu also runs through Varkaus. There are two train stations in the city, the main train station and the Kommila train station.

The Varkaus airport located 16 kilometers south of the city in the neighboring municipality Joroinen . After a break of over a year, Finncomm Airlines will be flying to Varkaus Airport again from Helsinki on April 28, 2008.


There are twelve primary schools in Varkaus, including a Swedish-speaking one, and a grammar school ( Lukio ). There is also a vocational school with an affiliated institute for adult education ( Savon ammatti- ja aikuisopisto ) with around 1,500 students. Varkaus is also home to one of the three locations of the Savonia University of Applied Sciences , which primarily offers technical and economically oriented courses. Around 700 of the more than 5000 students at the University of Applied Sciences study on the Varkaus campus.

Culture and sights

The Ahlströminkatu is the beating heart of the city.
The city's water tower is also a residential building.

The city center of Varkaus is quite faceless and characterized by industrial architecture and workers' settlements from the pre-war period and equally unadorned new buildings. The church of Varkaus was built in 1939 according to plans by Martti Paalanen in brick construction after the older wooden church of the village from 1863 burned out. The functionalist new building presents itself to the outside as an unadorned cuboid, inside the more than 242 square meter altar fresco Your Kingdom Come ( Tulkoon Sinun valtakuntasi ) by Lennart Segerstråhl is worth seeing.

Varkaus has had a professional city theater since 1913. In 2004, the theater's 162 performances were seen by 23,564 spectators. The Warkaus-Sali hall serves as a multi-purpose building for cultural events and congresses.

The cultural offerings of Varkaus also include six museums. The Varkaus municipal museum is housed in a former factory hotel building from 1914. The permanent exhibition is about the history of the city of Varkaus, there are also changing special exhibitions. The Varkaus Art Museum was founded in 1956 and has a collection of modern Finnish art from the early 20th century to the 1960s. The Taipale Canal Museum is located on the Taipale Canal. It shows the history of canal construction and inland navigation in Varkaus and the surrounding area. The workers' housing museum is a reminder of the city's industrial history. The Museum of Mechanical Musical Instruments stands out for its originality. The private museum has been run by the German-Finnish family Kempf since 1981 and owns 170 mechanical instruments. The Väinölä art gallery is also private .


In terms of sport, Varkaus is best known for the bandy club Warkauden Pallo -35 , the most successful team in the Bandyliiga with 16 championship titles .


Sons and daughters

Died in Varkaus

Web links

Commons : Varkaus  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Maanmittauslaitos (Finnish land surveying office): Suomen pinta-alat kunnittain January 1, 2010 (PDF; 199 kB)
  2. Statistical Office Finland: Table 11ra - Key figures on population by region, 1990-2018
  3. Itkonen, p. 23.
  4. Anthony F. Upton: vallankumous Suomessa 1917-1918, II osa . Kirjayhtymä, Helsinki 1981, ISBN 951-26-2022-7 , pp. 286 f.
  5. Itkonen, pp. 73-80.
  6. Finnish Ministry of Justice: Results of the 2012 local elections
  7. Suomen ystävyyskuntasuhteet ( Memento of the original from February 2, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  8. Tasku Varkaus (German) ( Memento of the original from August 29, 2007 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. , P. 11. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /