Explore the cultural heritage

The cultural sites, landscapes and traditions of the Geopark area tell the common history of the people and nature. Barren natural conditions, poor land and harsh habitat have always been a challenge for the inhabitants of the area. Many old customs still live in the Geopark.

In villages and cultural settings

People have always adapted to the surrounding natural conditions, and human activities have shaped natural landscapes. Villages and cultural landscapes tell of the lives of the area’s inhabitants in local conditions. Welcome to our villages and fall in love with the scenery!

Explore the Geopark’s impressive landscape areas, picturesque villages and architecturally interesting sites. Walk along the medieval road of Kyrönkankaantie, explore the architecture of the Niinisalo garrison area, experience the Ostrobothnian atmosphere on a traditional farmstead Hämes-Havunen and admire uniquely magnificent glass porches of Siikainen.

 

Serenity of the sacred lands

According to the proverb, “Church in the middle of the village” belongs to the Finnish landscape. The church buildings rising from the settlement center as a landmark are significant cultural historical sites with their other traditional buildings and architectural treasures, as well as their park-like surroundings. Many churches in the Geopark area are among the oldest buildings in their parish.

Versatile museums

The livelihood in the Geopark area has traditionally come from mires and forests. The residents of the area have earned a living from them. Special Museums tell the story of the development of mire and forest-related industries. By exploring the collections of local museums, you will experience glimpses of the local, past way of life.

At the Aitoneva Peat Museum and the Parkano Forest Museum, you can take a time trip to the everyday life of a peat extractor and a forest worker. At the Peat Museum, you will learn about the history of the peat industry and the machines used in production in an authentic peat production area. The Forest Museum presents the history of forest work from tar burning to the rise of the sawmill industry and the mechanization of forest work. The environment of the Forest Museum with its outdoor services and trails is a great day trip destination in the shore scenery of lake Kaidatvedet.

The Parliamentary Museum in Kauhajoki tells the story of how the place was a temporary session hall for the Parliament during the Winter War. Parliament fled the Helsinki bombings to Kauhajoki and was able to continue its activities there during the war. At the Kankaanpää City Museum, you will experience local history, fine art and garrison history all in one museum.

Experience the harmony between people and the environment

Historical bridges of the Geopark

The Geopark area has a large number of historic stone bridges and one of the few wooden museum bridges in Finland, the Markkula bridge in Kihniö.

Stone bridges are usually vaulted arched bridges built of durable granite. They can also be found in surprising places – if you take the highway Nr. 3 through the Geopark, there will be many hidden along the way. Stone bridges can be found along the main roads, e.g. From Tunturijoki in Siikainen, Suomijärvi and Sarvela in Karvia and Pukanluoma in Kankaanpää. Stone bridges hidden in forests can be found, for example, Kylmäoja in Parkano and Ylikylä in Karijoki.

The stone bridges on the Karijoki River are special. Instead of cubic stones carved into shape, elongated granite beams have been used. The characteristic arch of the bridges consists of three stone beams forming a crude arch. 

Intangible cultural heritage

Lauhanvuori – Hämeenkangas Geopark is located on the border of three provinces, and there are clear differences in the culture, traditions and dialects of the regions. Where a South Ostrobothnian stretches words by adding letters, a Satakunta resident does not utter the last vowels. The gems of the food tradition are e.g. Kakko bread from northern Satakunta and dumpling soup from South Ostrobothnia.

Traditional events, fairs, exhibitions and competitions celebrating local culture, art, people and nature take place around the Geopark. For example, folk music events (Spelit) are regularly held in Southern Ostrobothnia, in Kihniö’s Aitoneva the peat production season traditionally ends in the Mud festival Kurajuhlat, Jämi has a long tradition as a venue for aviation shows and many well-known ski competitions have been held in the area for decades.

There are also common features in the area: for example, outsider art (known as ITE, acronym for itse tehty elämä = self made life), sahti and people. Outsider art can be admired in the municipal centers, along the roads or in the ITE art park on Alpo’s Savannah. Sahti has traditionally been made in both Southern Ostrobothnia and Northern Satakunta, and there are award-winning sahti brewers and even a Sahti academy in the area. The people of the Geopark area are known for their honesty, outspokenness and entrepreneurship. What is promised is done properly.

(Image of a glass of sahti: www.aitojamakuja.fi / Julia Kivelä )

Culture of the Wilderness

The traditional Finnish way of life includes hunting, fishing and gathering. The Geopark area is one of the southernmost areas in Finland, where extensive state lands are available for hunters of small game. Check out the permit areas at Eräluvat.fi

The most important game animal since the Stone Age has been the elk (Alces alces). However, a hundred years ago, the Finnish elk population depended on only a few individuals. Gustav Wrede, a regional forester in Parkano, also known as the Baron of Parkano, arranged for the last elks living in Parkano’s forests to be captivated into a fenced area to protect them from poaching. In a couple of years, the elk multiplied so that they could be released into the wild. In 1923, the elk hunting was banned, which eventually led to the recovery of the elk population throughout Finland.

Traces of ancient culture

Traces of life in the Stone Age are still visible in the Lauhanvuori – Hämeenkangas UNESCO Global Geopark. Already some 120 000 years ago there even might have lived Neanderthals in the Susiluola cave. Myllyluoma Stone Age dwelling site tells the story of life in very distant history, from approximately 7000 BCE.

 

On ancient walkways

One of Finland’s oldest highways runs through the Geopark area. Kyrönkankaantie, already known as the old road in the 15th century, runs along the open pine forested heathlands of Hämeenkangas and Pohjankangas and crosses Kauhaneva mire from its narrowest point. The ancient highway has remained a local road as early as the 19th century. That is why it has survived so well to this day. In Kauhaneva – Pohjankangas National Park, the road serves as a bicycle route.