Tamminiemi is one of Finland’s former presidential residences, a lovely old building which houses the Urho Kekkonen museum.

Tamminiemi – a view from the bay

 

Located only a kilometer or so from the current presidential residence (Mäntyniemi), Tamminiemi is situated in a relatively secluded area (Meilahti) close to the city centre. The house was built in 1903 as a private residence, but was given to the Finnish government in 1940 by Amos Anderson (who was apparently friends with the then president, Kyösti Kallio, who admired Tamminiemi). Urho Kekkonen was the last of the three presidents to live in Tamminiemi, using it as his official residence for his 25 years (!) in power and then for his four years of retirement. After Kekkonen’s death it was decided to convert the house into a museum (opened in the late 1980s). The building recently underwent a three year renovation before reopening in March this year (details in the Helsingin Sanomat), and has now been restored to how it would have looked in the 1970’s.

Our favourite spot in the house – this little bar area was tucked away in a small nook, with a stunning multicoloured stainglass window giving beautiful light.

We visited Tamminiemi early on a Saturday afternoon, as that is the one day of the week when guided tours are available in English (12:30 – there are Finnish tours every hour, daily). Unfortunately we were a bit late (due to public transport being disrupted by the heavy snow the previous two days), but a kind staff member at the museum showed us around for a few minutes before heading off to handle a large group arriving for one of the Finnish tours. Our guide left us with English notes describing the different rooms… not quite the same thing, but informative nonetheless.

The view from the “presidential” sauna – looks like a nice place to relax, but maybe not worth the price they’re asking now!

It was also a bit disappointing that we couldn’t visit inside the famous sauna at Tamminiemi, where Kekkonen conducted negotiations with Russian and US officials (see some of the stories here and here). It turns out that the sauna is only open for tours during summer (June – August, I think)… but if you have some cash to spare you can rent the sauna for a private function – apparently it will cost you and a maximum of 11 friends 8’000 €! Fortunately, entry to the museum is only 6.50 € per person (more details at the Nation Board of Antiquities website).

TV for one in the upstairs sitting-room area

Since the museum is not very big you might want to combine it with a visit to the Seurasaari open-air museum (the island is accessed by a boardwalk which starts next to Tamminiemi).

Inside the president’s study – I wonder if the black telephone was for top secret communications?

 

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