Nokia has been around long enough that even its name is obscure. The most probable theory is that it comes from Old Finnish nois (pl. nokia), meaning a type of dark-coated marten found in the area to this day, and the animal is thus enshrined on the Nokia coat of arms. In modern Finnish, on the other hand, noki means "soot" and nokia would mean "soots", but using the plural makes little sense in either language.
Nokia was the setting of one of the largest battles in the Club War, a 1596 peasant uprising against Swedish feudal lords. The peasants, armed with clubs (surprise!), took up residence in Nokia Manor and won several skirmishes against the feudal cavalry, but were decisively defeated (surprise again!) by Klaus Fleming on January 1-2, 1597. Thousands of clubmen were slain and their fled leader, Jaakko Ilkka, was captured a few weeks later and executed. The Club War was the last major peasant revolt in Finland, and it permanently consolidated the hold of the nation state. Much later, in the Finnish Civil War (1918), Nokia (along with neighboring Tampere) was a Communist stronghold and saw some combat.
But Nokia had started on its road to world domination in 1865, when Fredrik Idestam established a pulp mill in Nokia and started manufacturing paper. The factory prospered and a town started to develop around it, replacing what had previously been just farmlands. In 1898, Nokia spawned the Finnish Rubber Works, which manufactured galoshes and later also tires. And for a long time this is what Nokia was known for in Finland: in almost every Finnish home you can still find a pair or two of long black rubber boots, emblazoned with exactly the same "NOKIA" logo as found on Nokia's cellphones.
The first step on the road to telecommunications was taken when the Finnish Cable Works were opened in 1912 in Helsinki. Its 1967 merger with the Rubber Works resulted in the creation of the Nokia Group, by then a vast industrial conglomerate for rubber, cable, paper and electronics products. Combining most of these skills, during the 1970s Nokia developed the DX 200 digital telephone switch and the revenue share of the electronics department started to balloon.
The die was cast in May 1992, when newly elected CEO Jorma Ollila decided to concentrate solely on telecommunications. The rubber, paper and consumer electronics operations were spun off into their own companies (all with names of the form "Nokian X"), but the telecoms group retained the name Nokia for itself. The rest is history — but Nokia the company no longer has any offices in Nokia the town.
Local buses connect Nokia center to Tampere center every 10 minutes, bus numbers 70 and 71 with bus company Paunu . Bus connections are quite limited outside the center of Nokia. You can get to Nokia also with train and it takes about 15 minutes from Tampere, but the trains pass only few times in a day.
If you're looking for Nokia the company you're in the wrong place, as none of Nokia's buildings remains in Nokia except one, a mansion which is used mostly for recreational purposes for the company staff. The headquarters were moved to Helsinki, with most other operations in Salo and Tampere.
However, old Nokia factories in the factory island and banks of Nokianvirta close to town center are worth a visit. From the Nokianvirta bridge a view to the factories is what Nokia is all about. Also Nokia church designed by C.L. Engel is quite nice.
- Spa Hotel Rantasipi Eden, Paratiisikatu 2, Nokia (In the neighboring town of Nokia), ☎ . Nokia's primary attraction, this is the swankiest spa and hotel in Finland featuring lots of liquid fun for the whole family. Tropical pool department 1500 m² in size, Finland’s longest water slide, bubbling hot and ice-cold pools, a flowing river, a games area, a golf simulator, a gym, a bowling alley, different types of sauna and pampering treatments. You'll probably need some liquid refreshment after paying the bill though, as day pass prices start at €25 per head. But on the plus side, you can meet there Russians without having to travel to Russia, especially in the winter.
- Bowling. A relatively new bowling hall at Pirkkalaistie 1, Nokia offers 8-tracks of bowling with a bar serving hamburgers and beer and mixed drinks.
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Nokia is a small town, so the selection of restaurants is limited. You don't have to go hungry in Nokia, however. There is a selection of fast food restaurants, a Chinese eatery and a steakhouse.
- Kulta-Grilli, ☎ . Rounionkatu 63, serves good kebabs and pizzas 'til 9PM. Kebabs are priced €3.50 - €6 and pizzas around €6. Soft drinks. Beer to go.
- Teuto-Grilli, Kavolininkatu 6 (in front of railway station). The inventor of the legendary kuuma koira, which literally means "hot dog" in Finnish, but puts a very Finnish spin on the classic: the plain old bun is replaced with a sugary donut, and even the thin wiener is mutated into a fat steamed sausage.
- Pepper, ☎ . Välikatu 18, is a good restaurant where a hungry tourist can find reasonably prices steaks, fish plates, pizzas, pastas and burgers. Daily lunch menu. Open Monday-tuesday 11AM-12PM, Friday-Saturday 11AM-02AM and Sunday 12-24. Kitchen closes daily at 9PM after which the place serves as a bar.
- Hotelli Sotkanvirta. Rooms 41-78€, very basic.