Sauna culture in Finland has changed in recent decades and many of the original public saunas that are an essential part of sauna culture have disappeared. Fortunately, a few of these saunas still exist and if you have never experienced an old public sauna, you have never seen a real sauna. They all offer a very special atmosphere.
Finland’s oldest operating public sauna is Rajaportin Sauna in Tampere. For more than 100 years, residents of Pispala (former working-class district of Tampere) and all other sauna lovers are welcome to enjoy the soft infusion and unique experience. Everyone is open-minded and the atmosphere is usually very chatty. People come here not only to bathe and relax, but also to meet friends and socialize.
When I was working on my project in Tampere for two months, the best thing was to take a sauna in Rajaportti every other day. Talking to the guests and also the members of the Pispala sauna association, I learned a lot about the origins of public sauna culture in Finland.
However, it is such a complex subject that it will take a lifetime of research. On each visit, I listened to the life stories of visitors who, in one way or another, are always connected to Rajaportti Sauna. I realized how indispensable the sauna really is to Finns, and that’s what it’s all about in the end ... It’s about the people!
To be continued ...