Nurmes is a city in Finland, located in the province of North Karelia at the northern end of Pielinen. After the 2020 municipal union, the city will be home to 9,787 people and will cover an area of ​​2,692.85 km², of which 291.49 km² will be water bodies. The population density is 4.07 inhabitants / km² and the land area is 2,401.36 km². The current city of Nurmes comprises the former Nurmes town hall and the associated Nurmes rural municipality and the municipality of Valtimo.

Nurmes' neighboring municipalities are Juuka in the south, Lieksa in the southeast, Kuhmo in the northeast, Sotkamo in the north and Rautavaara in the west. The municipality of Artery was merged with Nurmes on 1 January 2020.

The origin of the name is in Nurmesjärvi. The word Nurmes comes from the Karelian word grass, which means meadow like coastal meadow. The most central part of Nurmes city center is located on a ridge between Nurmesjärvi and Pielinen.

Nurmes hosts a lot of musical activities during Christmas, such as various concerts and events. Nurmes was declared the Christmas City of Finland in 2005 and the City of European Christmas Songs in 2009.



Nurmes is located in eastern Finland on the shores of Lake Pielinen, in the province of North Karelia on the border of Kainuu and North Savo. Nurmes' neighboring municipalities are Juuka, Kuhmo, Lieksa, Rautavaara and Sotkamo. The nearest larger cities by road are Kuopio (128 km), Joensuu (127 km) and Kajaani (113 km). There is a distance of 160 kilometers by rail from Nurmes to Joensuu, when the railway circulates through Lieksa. The distance from Nurmes to the Finnish capital Helsinki is 518 km by road and can be reached by rail by changing from a commuter train to a long-distance train in Joensuu. Near Nurmes are Tahko Tourist Center (121 km), Vuokatti Ski Center (88 km), Koli National Park (78 km), Tiilikkajärvi National Park (56 km) and Hiidenportti National Park (44 km).

Nurmes' nature is characterized by dangerous landscapes, forests and abundant water bodies. There are a total of 409 lakes in Nurmes, the largest and best known of which is Pielinen. Other lakes near the city center include Lautiainen, Nurmesjärvi and Kuohattijärvi. The largest islands in Pielinen on the Nurmes side are Kynsisaari, Kuusisaari and Retusaari.

Metsähallitus maintains three camping areas in Nurmes. The area of ​​hailstorms consists of a 5.9 km² protection forest and a 1.2 km² recreational forest. In addition to the forest, Raesärk has ridges, bogs, lakes and rivers. The Mujejärvi area consists of a 20 km² hiking area with cliffs, ridges, gorges and lakes. In addition to sheds, you can choose a desert hut or a rental cabin in the area. Peurajärvi is well suited for families with children and fishermen. There are many fishy lakes, ponds and rivers in the area, around which there are easy routes.



Ancient finds show that people have moved around Nurmes for at least four millennia. People have been fishing on the shores of Pielinen, which were 3-4 meters above the current lake surface. Later, the area was left to the Lapps, as a number of place names referring to them show: Jurtti, Kurtsunpuro and Kujanki.

Nurmes was first mentioned as a settlement in documents in 1556. Fifty “Russians,” orthodox Karelians, were reported to live in Nurmes. The area belonged to the Russian Empire with Käkisalmi County. After the area moved to Sweden in the early 17th century, the Karelians moved to Russia and Lutherans from Savo and Kainuu moved to Nurmes, and the settlement began to spread rapidly.

In 1638, the Pielisjärvi Lutheran Church was founded and its first church was built. However, the mother church was moved to Lieksa and Nurmes Church remained the chapel as the first priest Lauritsa Laurinpoika Hallitius. In 1656–1657, he led peasants in the Rupult War as Russians and Orthodox Karelians tried to plunder Nurmi.

In 1652 Nurmes became part of Kajaani, under Peter Brahe. During that time, the keeper developed and traffic connections to Kajaani and Oulu were strengthened. In the reign of taxpayers, or arresters, that began in the 1680s, the trend reversed. The arrendants, most famously Simon Affleck aka Simo Hurtta, tried to subjugate the peasants into land slaves. The crowd moved south and the settlement was sparse. In 1697, the peasants rebelled and deported the tax tenants.

After the Great Wrath, half of the parishion was deserted. In the 18th century, the churchmen of Stenius were strongly influenced. Of these, Jakob Stenius the Elder, Korpi-Jaakko, taught his parishioners to cultivate bogs. Vegetation began to displace and the need for arable land forced the houses to disperse to the hinterlands. The arable and meadow area expanded sharply from 1775 and Nurmes began to develop into a cattle keeper.

In 1808, perhaps the most famous Nurmeks resident, a tailor-born pupil of the Iron Age, Olli Tiainen, rose to become the leader and guerrilla master of the peasants of Lake Pielisjärvi as they began to defend their home against the Russian attacker. As a resourceful and skilled warrior, he gained the trust of both his subordinates and Colonel Sandels, who defended Savo. The Russians were kept away until the Finnish army withdrew to the Swedish side.

At the Porvoo Parliament in 1809, the parish of Karelia was represented by Henrik Ullgren (1762–1836) from Nurmes, a shop steward and an exemplary farmer.


As an independent keeper
Nurmes was for a long time a chapel of the Pielisjärvi parish, from which it became independent in 1810. In 1868, Juuka was founded in the western parts of Pielisjärvi parish, to which the southern villages of Nurmes parish were also connected. Rautavaara was formed from the western parts of Nurmes in 1874 together with the connected areas from Nilsiä. In 1903, the Yonkers area was connected from Nurmes to Kuhmoniemi, and in 1910 the Valtimo was formed from the northwestern parts of Nurmes, which rejoined Nurmes at the beginning of 2020.

Establishing a business
The town of Nurmes was founded in 1876 on an almost uninhabited ridge a couple of kilometers from the church village. The town plan was drawn up by Julius Basilier on the basis of Ferdinand Öhman's plans. In the town plan, special attention was paid to fire safety, which was pursued through regular and loose construction as well as wide streets and tree plantings. Nurmes was Finland's first township to operate as its own municipality, separate from the rural municipality, as the previously established Ikaalinen and Iisalmi were independent townships.

Due to the small area of ​​the town, its population was never large. In 1972, ie before the rural area was incorporated into the Nurmes town hall, the population was 2,652. The shop's main livelihoods were industry and services. In addition, many of the residents of the municipality were teachers or other civil servants, as a result of which the township was called the "township of lords".

Before the municipal union, the political structure of the town was very right-wing. In the 1930s, the patriotic people's movement received the most support in municipal elections. After the war, the most popular parties were the Liberal People’s Party and the Coalition Party. Instead, SKDL never got any delegates to the township council before the countryside was annexed. Since the unification of the countryside, the largest parties in Nurmes have been the Center and the SDP.

As a city
At the beginning of 1973, the countryside of Nurmes was incorporated into the Nurmes township. Before the municipal union, the border between the township and the countryside was Rajakatu in the west and the Mikonsalmi bridge in the east. Nurmes became a city on January 1, 1974. The coat of arms of the city became the coat of arms of the town.