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News 05.11.2019

Kuhmo is a new UNESCO Literature City

Picture: Asko Kuittinen

The city of Kuhmo has been designated as a city of literature of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network. Previously only one Finnish city – Helsinki with its status of UNESCO design city, – belonged to the network.

The city of Kuhmo applied for the status of a Literary City on the initiative of the Juminkeko Foundation. The application was prepared for about six months in cooperation with various actors.

Kuhmo’s application was based on the idea of Kuhmo as the home of the Kalevala. The Finnish national epic, which is translated into more than 60 languages, and the cultural heritage with its runosinging have been the cornerstones of culture and identity of the Finnish people and Finland. Elias Lönnrot, a composer of the Kalevala, worked in Kainuu for twenty years. He signed up the third part of the Old Kalevala script in Kuhmo. Many karelianists made their trips to the Kalevala land – Viena Karelia – from Kuhmo. Kainuu and Viena Karelia were in the tight connections via peddlers for hundreds of years. The Finnish national painter Akseli Gallen-Kallela seeked for incentives for his Aino triptyck and other Kalevala works right from Kuhmo. These are the reasons why Juminkeko Foundation, a center, which cherishes Kalevala cultural heritage, was founded in Kuhmo 30 years ago.

The UNESCO application recorded both the Kalevala actions and the actions of the City of Kuhmo and its associates in the field of culture and literature and envisioned what is to be done in the future.

UNESCO networks open up the possibility of cooperation within the network and UNESCO status also has a significance in tourism. The status gives Kuhmo international and nationwide credibility and image.

66 cities have been designated as UNESCO Creative Cities by the Director-General of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay. As laboratories of ideas and innovative practices, the UNESCO Creative Cities bring a tangible contribution to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals through innovative thinking and action. Through their commitment, cities are championing sustainable development actions that directly benefit communities at urban level.

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