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).
Built around AD 90 to entertain the legionaries stationed at the fort of Caerleon (Isca), the impressive amphitheatre was the Roman equivalent of today’s multiplex cinema. Wooden benches provided seating for up to 6,000 spectators, who would gather to watch bloodthirsty displays featuring gladiatorial combat and exotic wild animals.
Long after the Romans left, the amphitheatre took on a new life in Arthurian legend. Geoffrey of Monmouth, the somewhat imaginative 12th-century scholar, wrote in his History of the Kings of Britain that Arthur was crowned in Caerleon and that the ruined amphitheatre was actually the remains of King Arthur’s Round Table.
Today it is the most complete Roman amphitheatre in Britain.