Pispala City District

Tampere, Finland

Pispala is a city district located on the northern slope of Pispalanharju, the highest esker in Finland. Together with Pyynikki, Pispala is widely considered the most beautiful district of Tampere and tourists are often guided there for the view and the unique urban design features of the area.

Pispala is named after the House of Pispa, which had the obligation to house the bishops during their travel. Pispala was all farming land until as recently as 1869. As Tampere was industrialised Pispala grew without a unified local development plan, resulting in unique building styles and solutions. Pispala has always had a strong labour background and in the beginning of the 20th century it was the heart of labour movement in Tampere. In the Civil War (1918) Pispala was the last stronghold of besieged red guards and lot of local inhabitants were killed in the war or executed after it.

Today Pispala is a popular residential area and together with neighbouring Pyynikki it forms an important historical area of Tampere. The unique architecture of small wooden houses and narrow streets is very well-preserved. Many well-known Finnish artists and celebrities have lived and live in Pispala including Lauri Viita, Olavi Virta, Mikko Alatalo, Hannu Salama, Seela Sella, Keith Armstrong, Aaro Hellaakoski.

A monument to the Finnish poet Lauri Viita is located near the highest point of the ridge and there is a famous landmark in the area called the Shot tower (Pispalan haulitorni).

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Glimmingehus is the best preserved medieval stronghold in Scandinavia. It was built 1499-1506, during an era when Scania formed a vital part of Denmark, and contains many defensive arrangements of the era, such as parapets, false doors and dead-end corridors, 'murder-holes' for pouring boiling pitch over the attackers, moats, drawbridges and various other forms of death traps to surprise trespassers and protect the nobles against peasant uprisings. The lower part of the castle's stone walls are 2.4 meters (94 inches) thick and the upper part 1.8 meters (71 inches).

Construction was started in 1499 by the Danish knight Jens Holgersen Ulfstand and stone-cutter-mason and architect Adam van Düren, a North German master who also worked on Lund Cathedral. Construction was completed in 1506.

Ulfstand was a councillor, nobleman and admiral serving under John I of Denmark and many objects have been uncovered during archeological excavations that demonstrate the extravagant lifestyle of the knight's family at Glimmingehus up until Ulfstand's death in 1523. Some of the most expensive objects for sale in Europe during this period, such as Venetian glass, painted glass from the Rhine district and Spanish ceramics have been found here. Evidence of the family's wealth can also be seen inside the stone fortress, where everyday comforts for the knight's family included hot air channels in the walls and bench seats in the window recesses. Although considered comfortable for its period, it has also been argued that Glimmingehus was an expression of "Knighthood nostalgia" and not considered opulent or progressive enough even to the knight's contemporaries and especially not to later generations of the Scanian nobility. Glimmingehus is thought to have served as a residential castle for only a few generations before being transformed into a storage facility for grain.

An order from Charles XI to the administrators of the Swedish dominion of Scania in 1676 to demolish the castle, in order to ensure that it would not fall into the hands of the Danish king during the Scanian War, could not be executed. A first attempt, in which 20 Scanian farmers were ordered to assist, proved unsuccessful. An additional force of 130 men were sent to Glimmingehus to execute the order in a second attempt. However, before they could carry out the order, a Danish-Dutch naval division arrived in Ystad, and the Swedes had to abandon the demolition attempts. Throughout the 18th century the castle was used as deposit for agricultural produce and in 1924 it was donated to the Swedish state. Today it is administered by the Swedish National Heritage Board.

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