Sibelius Park

History

During the Ruotsinsalmi fortress town in the 19th century, the area of the current Sibelius Park area was used as a military exercise field. Bourgeoisie used to live in the surroundings of the field in those days.

Since the establishment of Kotka in 1878, the area has been used for games and as an event arena. The former name of the park, Kisakenttä (Game Field), also refers to these uses.

In 1906, the park committee headed by the Town Gardener Andersin was commissioned by the Town Council to start re-planning Kisakenttä into a playground and sports park. Construction work began in 1912. A third of the park was designated as a playground and for sports while the rest was used as a park, with shrubs, especially lilacs, planted in this section. The café pavilion Kinekulla was completed in 1913.

The oldest linden trees in the park date from the late 19th century. In 1930, more linden trees were planted at the edge of the sports ground to minimize dust. The trees connected the area to the Linden Esplanade of Keskuskatu, designed by Svante Olsson in 1893.

Symmetrical formal garden

Garden Architect Paul Olsson, son of Svante Olsson, re-designed Kisakenttä into a contemporary symmetrical formal garden with central axes in 1936.

Construction work was begun immediately. Winter War interrupted the refurbishment of the park. During the war years, Kisakenttä housed agricultural plots, where the local people, who were short of food, cultivated for example potatoes. After the war, the restoration of the park continued under the Town Gardener Otto Kautto.

Events in the park

Magnificent agaves, which were taken into greenhouses for the winter, were placed in the intersection of the axes under lamps. The regular lawn areas were lined by low, cut hedges.

The café pavilion was demolished after a fire in the autumn of 1954. A modern bandstand was completed at the edge of the park in the autumn of 1961 to serve the needs of bands and other performers. The bandstand was demolished in the late 1990s, and musical events obtained a new stage at the Sapokka Water Garden.

 

Present situation

The Sibelius Park was renovated in 1998–2000. The goal was to restore the park to capture the spirit of the original plan by Paul Olsson.

The design brief was for the endurance of the park and its modern requirements. This also allowed the finalising of those parts of the park that were missing from the previous plan.

Primary responsibility for the basic renovation of the park was carried by Heikki Laaksonen, Head of the Parks and Grounds Department. The Parks and Grounds Department of the City of Kotka was responsible for the practical implementation.

Maintenance became easier

The annual Kotka Maritime Festival used to cause considerable damage to the park. The renovation of the park has improved the situation considerably and nowadays, the park is in excellent condition immediately after the Maritime Festival and other events.

During renovation work, a section of an old cobbled street was discovered in conjunction at the Kirkkokatu end of the park. According to the National Board of Antiquities, this was a section “five ells wide” of the main street of the Ruotsinsalmi fortress town from the end of the 18th century. The section of old street remains exposed and can be found at the Kirkkokatu edge of the park, and there is also an information board with maps of the stone wall.

Excavations also revealed an old well at the corner of Kaivokatu and Mariankatu. The town residents used to get their household water from the well. A new well according to the old model was built at the site in 1992 to also commemorate the new water pipe running to Kotka from Utti in Valkeala. This water pipe turned Kotka´s previously poor water quality problems into a thing of the past.