The sauna culture in Finnland has changed a lot over the last decades and many of the public saunas have disappeared. Fortunately there are a couple of these saunas left and if you have never experienced an old public sauna, you have never seen a real sauna at all. They all provide a very original atmosphere.
Finland’s oldest operating public sauna is Rajaportin Sauna in Tampere. Since more than 100 years the people of Pispala (former working class part of Tampere) and all other sauna loving people are welcome to enjoy the soft steam and unique experience. Everyone is open minded and the atmospehre is very talkative. People not only come here for bathing and relaxing, it is equally important to meet friends and socialise.
When I was working in Tampere for two months on my project, the best part was to have a sauna in Rajaportti very second day. I learned a lot about original Finish sauna culture when talking with the guests and also the members of Pispala sauna association.
It is such a complex topic that it will last for a liftetime of research. I did also hear quite a few life stories related to Rajaportti which really gave me an idea how indispensable the Sauna for the Finish people is. That is what it is all about in the end.
It is about the people.
© Alexander Markus Lembke 2018
Artist / Sauna Classicist / Independent Photography Professional