Alvar Aalto design

Paimio Sanatorium

Paimio Sanatorium is a former tuberculosis sanatorium in designed by Finnish architect Alvar Aalto. The building was completed in 1932, and soon after received critical acclaim both in Finland and abroad. The building served exclusively as a tuberculosis sanatorium until the early 1960s, when it was converted into a general hospital. Today the building is part of the Turku University Hospital. The sanatorium was nominated ...
Founded: 1932 | Location: Paimio, Finland

Vyborg Library

The Vyborg Municipal Library was built during the time of Finnish sovereignty between 1933-1935, before the Finnish city of Viipuri was anexed by the former USSR and its Finnish name was changed to Vyborg by the USSR political authorities. Aalto received the commission to design the library after winning first prize (with his proposal titled "WWW") in an architectural competition for the building held in 1927. A ...
Founded: 1933-1935 | Location: Vyborg, Russia

The Church of the Three Crosses

The Church of the Three Crosses (Vuoksenniska chruch), designed by academician Alvar Aalto, is architecturally an interesting building. Its slender, high belfry describes a down shot arrow. Instead of the altar painting there are three crosses. Among the 103 windows only two are identical. Aalto planned the church also for other activities in the parish besides services. Therefore the church can be divided into three part ...
Founded: 1957 | Location: Imatra, Finland

Muurame Church

The village of Muurame lies a few miles south of Jyväskylä, the town where Aalto grew up and opened his first architectural practice in 1923, so it was only natural for the parish council to commission its new church from the closest qualified architect. Aalto had made his first trip to Italy in 1924, during which he had been greatly impressed by the architettura minore of small, simple churches in rural setting ...
Founded: 1926 | Location: Muurame, Finland

Villa Mairea

Villa Mairea is a villa and guest house built in 1938-1939 as the residence of patronages Harry and Maire Gullichsen. It was designed by their friend, the most famous Finnish architect Alvar Aalto. The house is one of the most successful examples of the modernist style in architecture and one of Aalto's most widely known designs. The interior of the Villa mainly consists of modern art and Artek furniture, which form a ...
Founded: 1938-1939 | Location: Pori, Finland

Kauttua Ironworks

The iron manufacturing in Kauttua started in 1689, when nobleman Lorentz Creutz was granted to establish an ironworks to Kauttua rapids. The ironworks business created an historically valuable industrial village milieu, which is called today as “Kauttua Ruukinpuisto”. In 1907 the ironworks was acquired by Ahlström Oy and it was changed to manufacture paper.Most of village buildings are from the 19th centu ...
Founded: 1689 - 20th century | Location: Eura, Finland

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Porta Nigra

The Porta Nigra (Latin for black gate) is the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps. It is designated as part of the Roman Monuments, Cathedral of St. Peter and Church of Our Lady in Trier UNESCO World Heritage Site. The name Porta Nigra originated in the Middle Ages due to the darkened colour of its stone; the original Roman name has not been preserved. Locals commonly refer to the Porta Nigra simply as Porta.

The Porta Nigra was built in grey sandstone between 186 and 200 AD. The original gate consisted of two four-storied towers, projecting as near semicircles on the outer side. A narrow courtyard separated the two gate openings on either side. For unknown reasons, however, the construction of the gate remained unfinished. For example, the stones at the northern (outer) side of the gate were never abraded, and the protruding stones would have made it impossible to install movable gates. Nonetheless, the gate was used for several centuries until the end of the Roman era in Trier.

In Roman times, the Porta Nigra was part of a system of four city gates, one of which stood at each side of the roughly rectangular Roman city. The Porta Nigra guarded the northern entry to the Roman city, while the Porta Alba (White Gate) was built in the east, the Porta Media (Middle Gate) in the south, and the Porta Inclyta (Famous Gate) in the west, next to the Roman bridge across the Moselle. The gates stood at the ends of the two main streets of the Roman Trier, one of which led north-south and the other east-west. Of these gates, only the Porta Nigra still exists today.

In the early Middle Ages the Roman city gates were no longer used for their original function and their stones were taken and reused for other buildings. Also iron and lead braces were broken out of the walls of the Porta Nigra for reuse. Traces of this destruction are still clearly visible on the north side of the gate.

After 1028, the Greek monk Simeon lived as a hermit in the ruins of the Porta Nigra. After his death (1035) and sanctification, the Simeonstift monastery was built next to the Porta Nigra to honor him. Saving it from further destruction, the Porta Nigra was transformed into a church: The inner court of the gate was roofed and intermediate ceilings were inserted. The two middle storeys of the former gate were converted into church naves: the upper storey being for the monks and the lower storey for the general public. The ground floor with the large gates was sealed, and a large outside staircase was constructed alongside the south side (the town side) of the gate, up to the lower storey of the church. A small staircase led further up to the upper storey. The church rooms were accessible through former windows of the western tower of the Porta Nigra that were enlarged to become entrance doors (still visible today). The top floor of the western tower was used as church tower, the eastern tower was leveled, and an apse added at its east side. An additional gate - the much smaller Simeon Gate - was built adjacent to the East side of the Porta Nigra and served as a city gate in medieval times.

In 1802 Napoleon Bonaparte dissolved the church in the Porta Nigra and the monastery beside it, along with the vast majority of Trier"s numerous churches and monasteries. On his visit to Trier in 1804, Napoleon ordered that the Porta Nigra be converted back to its Roman form. Only the apse was kept; but the eastern tower was not rebuilt to its original height. Local legend has it that Napoleon originally wanted to completely tear down the church, but locals convinced him that the church had actually been a Gaulish festival hall before being turned into a church. Another version of the story is that they told him about its Roman origins, persuading him to convert the gate back to its original form.

In 1986 the Porta Nigra was designated a World Heritage Site, along with other Roman monuments in Trier and its surroundings. The modern appearance of the Porta Nigra goes back almost unchanged to the reconstruction ordered by Napoleon. At the south side of the Porta Nigra, remains of Roman columns line the last 100 m of the street leading to the gate. Positioned where they had stood in Roman times, they give a slight impression of the aspect of the original Roman street that was lined with colonnades. The Porta Nigra, including the upper floors, is open to visitors.