The Imatrankoski Rapids has been a famous tourist sight since the 18th century. For example Catherine the Great, the Empress of All the Russias, visited Imatra in July 1772. In 1892 the railway came to Imatra, which immediately shortened the journey from St. Petersburg and increased the influx of tourists. There were originally two wooden hotels used by Russian aristocracy, but but they had been destroyed in fires in the beginning of the 20th century.
The Grand Hotel Cascade d'Imatra (Valtionhotelli in Finnish) was opened in 1903. The huge jugend style castel hotel was designed by Usko Nyström and it represents the romantic medieval knight castle style (like the Neuschwanstein castle in Germany).
After Finland's independence in 1917, the Russians found themselves barred from crossing the border and the remote location of the Imatrankoski Rapids near the Russian border no longer held any attraction to Finnish tourists. The 1920s saw the construction of the Imatrankoski power station; after that, the rapids were allowed to surge free only for special shows.
Valtionhotelli was renovated to the original outfit in 1987. Today it functions as a Spa Hotel owned by Restel Oy.
Reference: Imatra Municipality
The city walls of Avila were built in the 11th century to protect the citizens from the Moors. They have been well maintained throughout the centuries and are now a major tourist attraction as well as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visitors can walk around about half of the length of the walls.
The layout of the city is an even quadrilateral with a perimeter of 2,516 m. Its walls, which consist in part of stones already used in earlier constructions, have an average thickness of 3 m. Access to the city is afforded by nine gates of different periods; twin 20 m high towers, linked by a semi-circular arch, flank the oldest ones, Puerta de San Vicente and Puerta del Alcázar.