Mäntsälä is a village of around 11.000 inhabitants north of the Finnish capital, Helsinki. It is the administrative center of the municipality with the same name and it is in the Uusimaa region. Its location along an intersection between several larger roads has been an important part of the village’s more recent development. The old road between Helsinki and Lahti even makes up the main road through the urban area, but the passing traffic is nowadays mostly using the nearby highway. In addition, the railway between Helsinki and Lahti also has a station on the outskirt of Mäntsälä.
A Short History of Mäntsälä
The history of Mäntsälä goes according to several sources back to 1585 when the construction of the first church in the area began. The village itself has a long history and the first known written records date back to the 15th century. The name has, however, seen many changes during the centuries. The spelling of the name changed during the 15th and 16th centuries and was for periods written as Mensela, Menselä, Mänsilä, Mensse, and Mentzeby.
Most of the development came after the Russian conquest of Finland in 1809. The Russian czar Alexander I came to Mäntsälä in 1809, visiting one of the local manors. The old church was later replaced and the current church was completed in 1866. Prior to that the village had developed and had already a public library, schools, and a town hall. The town hall was replaced in 1935 and the current town hall was built in 1992.
Finland gained independence from Russia in 1917 and Mäntsälä played a part in what happened in the following decades. It was here that the Mäntsälä Rebellion took place in nearby Ohkola in 1932 when the Lapua Movement made a failed attempt to overthrow the government. The Lapua Movement was a pro-german movement of Finnish nationalists and fascists that had been established in 1929. It was in 1932 that around 400 armed members of the Finnish White Guard intervened in a meeting that was held here by the Social Democrats. The White Guard played a part already in the Finnish Civil War in 1918 when the militia was fighting against the Soviet-supported Finnish Reds. The rebellion in Mäntsälä only attracted a small portion of the White Guards and only lasted a few days before the Lapua Movement was disbanded and its leaders arrested.
The Second World War did not leave Mäntsälä unaffected. Around 2000 refugees from Finnish Karelia were evacuated to the area and the locals eventually had to make land available for the many new arrivals. More recent history has seen the area develop into a transport hub with the logistics center of the store Tokmanni being built here. There has also been the development of data centers in the area.
Things to Do and See
There are a few historical buildings still standing in Mäntsälä, but there is also a lot of nature to explore in its surroundings. Most services and shops are along the main street Lahdentie and the smaller street Keskuskatu. Along the river, next to the center is also a larger sports complex for soccer and athletics.
Mäntsälänjoki & Kirsikkapuisto
Mäntsälänjoki, or the Mäntsälä River, runs through the village and makes up parts of the green areas. There are several walking paths along the river, connecting different parts of the village. There are also parks along the river, such as the Kirsikkapuisto, in English the Cherry Park. You will probably be able to spot some cherry trees here.
The Mäntsälän Seurojentalo, or the Mäntsälä Clubhouse, is at the center of the village. It was built in 1926 and played a central role in the 1932 Mäntsälä Rebellion. Its large square is today used for different events and so is the building itself.
The current Mäntsälä Church was completed in 1866. It had been delayed for a long time due to funding issues created by the Crimean War. It was built with bricks and was last renovated in 1991.
Haukankierros is a nature area in the northern parts of the municipality. It is a five-kilometer circular route that goes through the area’s varying terrain.
How to Get to Mäntsälä
- Flights: The closest major airport is Helsinki Airport (HEL), 56 kilometers away with both domestic and international flights.
- Car: Mäntsälä is along Road E75, between Helsinki and Lahti.
- Train: Trains connect Mäntsälä with Helsinki and Lahti.
The driving distance from 5 major Finnish cities, according to Google Maps:
- Helsinki – 61 kilometers (48 min)
- Turku – 196 kilometers (2 h 17 min)
- Vaasa – 397 kilometers (4 h 34 min)
- Oulu – 567 kilometers (6 h 49 min)
- Joensuu – 379 kilometers (4 h 20 min)
Find out more about other destinations in Finland by visiting our page Exploring Finland