Perhaps Lahti is best known as a sports city, with its winter sports – the annual Salpausselkä ski games, World Championships and other international sports events. Lahti is also called the capital of sport.
The first ski jumping hill was completed in Lahti in 1922 and the ski stadium in 1937. The Salpausselkä games started in 1923. In 1938, Lahti organized its first world championship skis with 12 countries participating.
The sports center has a great setting and good facilities for both outdoor and indoor sports. The Lahti Stadium – an athletics, skiing and football stadium – was taken in operation in 1981. It fits 15,000 people and with about 7,000 seats. An ice rink (jäähalli), now known as Isku Areena is situated also in Lahti Sports Center.
Today, three jumping hills are an integral part of the cityscape of Lahti. You can admire the spectacular views from the summit of the hill at agreed times. There is an outdoor swimming pool on the Suurmäki downhill slope during the summer season. In the Ski Museum’s ski jump simulator you can test your own ski jumping skills. The Ski Museum, the ski center and the ski stadium with its spectators, the Great Hall and the ice rink with the surrounding Salpausselkä terrain offer a unique opportunity to watch sports and exercise as well as active pursuits.
There are also several statues and monuments in the Lahti Sports Center: Ski Jumping statue (Vesa Ekholm 2017), Skiing statue (Viktor Jansson 1938) and Finland’s first statue for a female athlete, skiing queen Siiri Rantanen (Toivo Pelkonen 1998) and also Long Live Finland Hero memorial during the wars 1939 to 1945 (by Unto Ojonen 1988) and Finland 75 years juhlakivi.
In addition to the sports center, the area also serves as an exhibition center, with 12-16 annual fairs and events, as well as numerous other events.
On the outskirts of the sports center, next to the Ylinen Viipurintie Road, on a small hillside, just opposite the Isku Areena is the building of the first elementary school in the village of Lahti. The school was one of the estate’s landlord for August Fellman’s many public education projects and was built in 1873 on a plot he donated. Fellman persuaded parents to send their children to school by promising half a barrel of rye for one and two barrels for two children. The most famous pupil of the school must have been the future President Juho Kusti Paasikivi which began his schooling in 1877. The school building is the only house and the oldest public building in the center of Lahti village. Today, the former village school serves as a living and studio space for visual artists.
Salpausselkä’s multiple hiking and skiing trails depart from the sports center, offering opportunities for all year around exercise according to each individual’s fitness and skill level and preferences.
One path leads along to the Race l, down the weir and up again to the Häränsilmä (formerly Wähäjärvi), a small pond (gray tomb, “dead ice pit”), one of the most beautiful parts of the Salpausselkä sports and recreation area. The small pond was born after a large block of ice was buried during the ice age and melted later. As the ice block melted, water became a pond, as the soil collected in the bottom became impermeable to water. The original area of the pond has been about one hectare, but shrunk to 0.2 hectares as a result of partial mire and overgrowth. Lampe is said to have been a sacrificial site in the old days. Its current name, Häränsilmä Pond, is said to have been derived from the fall of a pond and the loss of the Fellman Manor bull, which the villagers had failed to rescue. Or would the name be derived from the Lahti title plant, a blossom-like bull’s-eye? Or is there something else hidden behind the special name? The bull’s-eye pond was designated as a nature reserve in 1983.
In the area of the sports center, for example on the hills slightly from Häränsilmä towards Suurhall (now Lahti Energia Arena), there are remnants of war graves and pottery during the Finnish Civil War.
The Sports Center also provides access to Lehmus trail. The path is named after the forest linden trees, the largest of which grow on the Niemi cliffs and Kariniemi park. The total length of the trail is about 11 kilometers and goes around about two kilometers from the market square. The trail is marked with trees and poles with green linden leaves. The trail passes through various forests (pine trees, spruce trees, parks and rich foliage), on the shore of the lake, at the top of ridges and viewpoints of the cliffs, providing cultural environments, glacial monuments, and others. The Lehmus Trail consists of eight destinations: Teivaanmäki and Häränsilmä, Radiomäki, City Hall and Lotilanharju, Metelinmäki and Mustankallionmäki, Vesteråsinpuisto, Niemenkalliot, Kariniemi and Vesijärvi. There are easy, medium and difficult sections along the trail.
In Lahti region, Salpausselkä has several outdoor trails that offer access to natural monuments dating back more than ten thousand years, the time when the continental glacier retreated from our area. Already in the late 1950s there were more parks per capita in Lahti than in any other city in our country. Lahti and its surroundings offer varied outdoor activities, vitality, well-being and nature recreation throughout the seasons: an important part of the European Capital of Culture program for 2021. There are 48 nature reserves, 21 trail sites and 23 Natura sites in Lahti region.