Rovaniemi: Santa Claus’ Official Hometown in Lapland


Rovaniemi is a city located in the Lapland region, which stretches across the northern part of Finland. While it is a city in the far north at the gateway to the Arctic Circle, it is also a popular spot for tourists seeking the beautiful Aurora Borealis and the Santa Claus Village. In this article, I will introduce the characteristics of the city, its main tourist attractions, and its history of recovery after World War II.

Features of Rovaniemi

Rovaniemi is the capital of the Lapland province in northern Finland and serves as the region’s administrative and economic center. Rovaniemi is located in the Lapland region, which spreads across the northern part of the Scandinavian Peninsula, and is surrounded by the Arctic Circle’s natural beauty. 

If you are familiar with Santa Claus, you might have heard of the Santa Claus Village in Rovaniemi. There is a Santa Claus Village on the outskirts of Rovaniemi, where the real Santa Claus is said to live, and it has become a popular destination for tourists from around the world.

History of Rovaniemi

The history of Rovaniemi dates back to ancient times, with the indigenous Sami people living in Lapland since before the Common Era. In 1453, the name “Rovaniemi” first appears in official documents. In modern times, the mineral resources of the Lapland region attracted attention, and many people gathered in Rovaniemi for mining, leading to its development.

However, the Lapland War broke out in the Finnish Lapland region between September 1944 and April 1945 during World War II. The war began when Finland signed the Moscow Armistice to end the Continuation War with the Soviet Union. 

The Soviets demanded the expulsion of Nazi German forces from Finland as a condition of the armistice. However, both the German and Finnish forces opposed this clause, leading to a state of combat. During the Lapland War, the Nazi German forces executed a scorched earth policy, destroying major facilities in Lapland while retreating. Rovaniemi also suffered damage in this war, with almost all of its buildings destroyed except for a few facilities.

Alvar Aalto’s Participation in Post-War Reconstruction

Although Rovaniemi lost most of its buildings in the Lapland War between Finland and Germany, reconstruction work began after the war. Alvar Aalto, a renowned Finnish architect and designer, was responsible for the city’s reconstruction. 

Aalto designed many facilities, such as the Rovaniemi City Hall, the Lapland Provincial Library, and the Rovaniemi Administrative Center. Even today, the buildings he designed can be found throughout Rovaniemi, supporting the lives of its residents. The buildings’ designs have also received high praise, becoming one of Rovaniemi’s tourist attractions.

Santa Claus Village, Officially Approved by Santa

The most popular tourist attraction in Rovaniemi is Santa Claus Village, located about 8 km north of the city center near the entrance to the Arctic Circle. Santa Claus Village was officially recognized as Santa Claus’ hometown in 2010. 

The village has facilities related to Santa Claus, such as his residence and the Santa Claus Post Office, which receives letters from children worldwide. Additionally, there are hotels, restaurants, and commercial facilities, making it resemble a theme park like Disneyland. 

The origins of Santa Claus Village date back to 1950 when Eleanor Roosevelt, the wife of the US President, visited Rovaniemi. At that time, Mrs. Roosevelt wanted to visit the Arctic Circle, so a cabin was hastily built on the outskirts of Rovaniemi. That cabin became the prototype for Santa Claus Village.


Rovaniemi is a city located in the region known as Lapland in Finland and suffered damage during the Lapland War in World War II. However, after the war, architect and designer Alvar Aalto took charge of the city’s reconstruction, leading to a remarkable recovery. 

Today, it is one of the central cities in Lapland, with activities such as Aurora Borealis viewing and reindeer sleigh rides thriving in the natural environment. In particular, Santa Claus Village is a highly attractive tourist spot for families, as visitors can meet Santa Claus not only during the Christmas season but also throughout the year.