Joensuu is the vibrant capital of the North Karelia region, and with almost one-third of its population being made up of students, it is a town where there is always something happening. The biggest event on the calendar is the Ilosaarirock Festival, which attracts big international and national acts from the rock and pop world. The city of Joensuu, which was founded by Czar Nikolai I of Russia in 1848, has grown to become the regional capital of North Karelia and its second-largest city. Much of its importance is due to improvements in water traffic when the Saimaa Canal was completed in 1870, which allowed a lively regional trade and linked the city to St. Petersburg in Russia, and via the Volga to both the Black and Caspian seas.
Visitors to Joensuu will find that there is always something to do and see, and of the treats available, a day spent in Perhos-Botania, the University Botanical Gardens, is highly recommended. The greenhouse complexes are comprised of five greenhouse complexes. The visitor can travel through a variety of climates on Earth, from arid deserts to tropical rain forests, and see a thousand exotic species from all over the globe.
Particularly captivating are the giant butterflies which fly freely about the place. Joensuu also houses the Bunker Museum and the Carelicum, or North Karelian Museum, and scattered around are many old wooden churches, like the pseudogothic Kirkkokatu cathedral.