- Rovaniemi, Finland, is home to the Santa Claus Village complete with a post office and reindeer.
- Thousands of visitors flock to see Santa there every year, while others mail him letters.
- Photographers, including Reuters' Pawel Kopczynski, got an inside look at the magical village.
- For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.
Rovaniemi, Finland, is home to Santa's year-round office and village.
You can find both at the Santa Claus Village, where a multilingual actor playing Santa carries out the important day-to-day business of meeting thousands of adoring fans — and spreading general Christmas cheer.
Multiple photographers, including Pawel Kopczynski, have previously visited the glittering, snow-covered Santa Claus Village, and revealed what it's like inside.
But years prior, the Finnish city of Rovaniemi was nearly destroyed during World War II, according to the city's official tourism site.
That changed, however, in 1950 when first-lady Eleanor Roosevelt paid a visit to Rovaniemi to check up on its rebuilding efforts. In advance of her trip, officials built a cabin a few miles north of the city, right on the Arctic Circle. This cabin is still standing in Santa Claus Village today.
The big man himself came into the picture a few decades later.
Legend says that Santa's original home is in a secret, remote location in Finland, known to only a chosen few people. So, in 1985, "Santa" — with help from local officials — decided to open up a public office, right at the cabin in Rovaniemi. There, he'd get to greet children all year round, and attract lots of tourism to the area too.
Soon, the village was open for business, and in 2010, it was finally dubbed the official hometown of Santa Claus.
The main attraction, of course, is seeing Santa. About 500,000 visitors flock to the site every year at the time of writing.
And kids who make the trek can go home with proof of their magical encounter.
The village sells a certificate proving that they have indeed met the "real" Santa.
But for those who can't make the trek to Finland, there's always letter writing.
Every year, more than half a million children write letters to Santa's official post office, where "elves" sort all the arrivals by country of origin.
It's a real, functioning post office with a special Arctic Circle postmark.
The postmark features an image of Santa with his famous reindeer.
The village has received mail from 198 different countries to date.
You can also send letters home to loved ones.
Some children even draw pictures for Santa.
The thousands of letters are sorted into "opening," "sorting," and "replying" piles.
There's even some entertainment for adult visitors.
The Snowman World Ice Bar and Restaurant is right on the premises. Just about everything here is made from ice — even the drinking glasses.
Hardcore snow fans can also book a room at the on-site igloo hotel.
This particular room included a snow-carved image of Santa and his team of reindeer flying through the sky.
The Kotahovi restaurant serves dishes from Finland's northernmost region, Lapland.
Along with its wide array of food, the Kotahovi restaurant also offers live music for its diners.
Reindeer sleigh rides and reindeer farm tours are another popular attraction at the village.
Visitors are notified up front that flying reindeer are reserved for Santa's use only. That's because they "require expert driving skills that take centuries to master," according to Rovaniemi's official tourism site. Best to leave it to the man in red.