Discover the fascinating two billion years of history of Geopark. Hiking and cycling routes as well as nature attractions invite you to explore Lauhanvuori-Hämeenkangas UNESCO Global Geopark.


Beautiful national parks

Lauhanvuori and Kauhaneva-Pohjankangas National Parks, known for their beautiful scenery, are located in the Geopark area.

You can travel back in time to the past on the easy routes of Lauhanvuori National Park. The number one sight of Lauhanvuori is Kivijata, an impressive stone field formed of rare sandstone. On Lauhanvuori you may also see Finnish forest deer, for example.

Photo: Sannamari Ratilainen / Metsähallitus Parks and Wildlife Finland, Lauhanvuori National Park

In Kauhaneva-Pohjankangas National Park you may experience magnificent wild mire nature. Kauhaneva’s duckboard route leads you to the heart of the mire. The path of Katikankanjoni takes you into the mysterious ravine shaded by spruces.

Photo: Pasi Talvitie, Kauhaneva-Pohjankangas National Park

Authentic mire nature

Haapakeidas mire reserve is the largest and most diverse mire area in Geopark. In the early summer on the hiking trails the air is filled with the scent of wild rosemary. You may watch birds in observation towers or on duckboard trails. Read more about birds in our article.

There are several mire destinations within the Geopark area that are also suitable for children. See the best sites and tips in our article.

Photo: Terttu Hermansson, Haapakeidas

Versatile nature activities

Hämeenkangas offers tens of kilometers of easy-going routes with many resting places as well as great natural attractions. Hiking, biking, canoeing – there are diverse nature sports opportunities in Hämeenkangas.

Photo: Sofia Sillanpää, Hämeenkangas

Rocky hills and small waterways

Climb the observation towers of the rocky hills and gaze to the wide forest and mire landscapes. There are many creeks, ponds and meandering small rivers in Geopark, too. Thus the area offers experiences for e.g. canoeists and fishermen as well.

Read more about Geopark’s diverse destinations on our website.

Photo: Sofia Sillanpää, Käskyvuori

Discover the cultural heritage

The cultural sites of Geopark tell about the common history of the people and nature of the area.  Discover Geopark’s diverse museums, unique architecture, traditional churches and art at the Kankaanpää Art Circle or along the roads.

The creativity of the area’s residents becomes visible on the Route of Arts. The joyful contemporary folk art that change every year can be seen, for example in Karvia and Parkano. You will find the most interesting places to visit in our brochure.

Photo: Mirja Koivisto / Tarinakuva, Alpon savanni



Take a hike on the trails

Geopark’s trails take you in the middle of nature to see the best attractions. Geopark offers both easy and family-friendly trails as well as more demanding routes suitable for multi-day hikes with overnight stays.

Geopark’s hiking trails are compiled in Geopark’s brochure (in Finnish).

Photo: Lauri Kurki, Lauhanvuori National Park

Two Billion Year Tours cycling route

On Geopark’s new Two Billion Year Tours cycling route, you will get to know 1 900 million years of Finnish history in the best possible way – by cycling through it. The routes connect Geopark’s most significant places to visit and the most beautiful landscapes, as well as municipal centers and the best tourist services.

Photo: Mirja Koivisto / Tarinakuva, Jämijärvi

The three long Traveller routes going along the roads offer overnight adventures for experienced cyclists. The shorter Enjoyer routes are suitable for day trips for families, for example. Real adventures await on the Adventurer routes on mountain bike trails. You can cycle to Geopark’s routes from EuroVelo 10 route and from Järvien reitit cycling routes.

Read more about Geopark’s cycling routes and cycling services on our website and in our brochure (both currently in Finnish).

Photo: Pasi Talvitie, Kihniö

Enjoy by the campfire

A snack by the campfire is one of the highlights of the nature trip. Make it luxury and order a ready meal for your family or group to the campfire, or grab a snack from the area’s cafes or restaurants.

Photo: Terttu Hermansson, Käskyvuori

There are lots of great places in Geopark to take a break by the campfire. Most sites have firewood freely available to visitors. Campfires are only allowed at marked campfire sites. Please notice that it is strictly prohibited to set fire during a forest or grass fire warning. Check the Finnish Meteorological Institute’s website for warnings. You can find the campfire sites on the map.

Photo: Niina Rautiainen / NR Visuals, Kauhaneva-Pohjankangas National Park

Spend the night in nature

Spend the night in a tent or hammock and experience the magical atmosphere of the Geopark’s summer nights and early mornings. Please note that camping in protected areas is only allowed in specific areas. You can find site-specific instructions on the nationalparks.fi website. There are also very nice commercial camping sites available in Geopark.

Photo: Laura Vanzo / Visit Tampere, Korsukylä


Geopark’s summer is full of events: open-air concerts and summer theater as well as art exhibitions and sports. Willi Karvia, for example, offers great concerts and theater experiences at the Skantz Cultural Center, of which architecture is inspired by a 17th-century fort.

Kankaanpää has a long Finnish baseball tradition. You can feel the atmosphere of the game in the arena of the team of Kankaanpään Maila.

Photo: Niina Rautiainen / NR Visuals, Skantz Cultural Center

During the summer, the villages of Geopark come to life. For example, cafes, restaurants, boutiques and farm shops attract tourists and residents of the area to enjoy the relaxed atmosphere.

Photo: Mirja Koivisto / Tarinakuva, Karvia

Enjoy Geopark destinations on a guided tour. With an expert local guide, you’ll find the best routes and sites and hear related stories. With a guide, you will get the most out of your trip. Companies also rent equipment such as canoes and electric mountain bikes to your independent adventures.

Photo: Pasi Talvitie, Kauhaneva-Pohjankangas National Park

Promote your well-being on a guided wellness trip to nature. Complete your nature experience in sauna and with pampering treatments. Relax in the soft steam of the smoke sauna or more common but still traditional sauna by a lake, for example. Enjoy the gentle treatments made with the peat of the area’s mires as well.

Read more on our webpage. You can also find the services on the map. You can easily buy experiences and services through the Geopark’s online store.

Photo: Laura Vanzo / Visit Tampere, Kirkkokadun Hyvän Olon Keskus



Human in Nature event in August

The traditional Human in Nature event will be held in Parkano in late August. The theme of this year’s event is biodiversity. From Thursday to Sunday, the event offers a high-quality seminar, guided tours in Geopark, a tradition day at SyVilla and a family event at the Forest Museum. Read more on the Visit Parkano website.

Photo: Hanna Tuuri /Tuuri-Tiedotus, Parkano Forest Museum

Joyful gifts from More Joy

More Joy offers e.g. dishcloths with nature-themed patterns made out of natural fibers. Joyful patterns are created in collaboration with different designers or according to the customer’s wishes. In the factory store you will find both gifts and nice craft packages for children. Read more on the More Joy’s website.

Photo: More Joy

Rental equipment from Kesport Kauhajoki

Kesport Kauhajoki offers electric bicycle and sup board rental. In addition to rental equipment, you can buy all the necessary equipment for your active nature holiday in the shop. Read more on Kesport Kauhajoki’s website.

Photo: Terttu Hermansson, Lauhanvuori National Park


Outar offers experiences with natural colors

Outar offers courses (also online) related to natural colors. Natural colors are suitable for harmonious creative moments. From plants you can extract a lot of fascinating dyes that can be used in crafts and art in many ways.

For example, you may attend the Watercolors and Inks from Natural Colors course in Parkano on Saturday 11th of June. Prepare your own inks from plants and make paintings with them. In the course, you will learn how to make pigment powders, watercolors and inks from plants you have collected, as well as from plant color extracts. Read more on Outar’s website.

Photo: Ronja Kuokkanen / Outar

The Salaisen Puutarhan Majatalo Guesthouse and Valkoinen Puu Café & Shop

The guesthouse is located in Kauhajoki, in a former parsonage built in the 1890s, surrounded by a wild garden. The building has been luxuriously refurbished with a mix of Scandinavian bohemianism and antiques. The guesthouse offers six unique double rooms with soft beds and beautiful décor. Read more on the website of The Salaisen Puutarhan Majatalo Guesthouse.

Photo: The Salaisen Puutarhan Majatalo Guesthouse

Charming Valkoinen Puu Café & Shop is located just a bit over a kilometer from the the guesthouse. In the café you can enjoy delicacies made in the own bakery along the same street. The café’s cakes and pastries are known for their delicacy. Their authentic flavors are created with American and South Ostrobothnian family recipes and local ingredients. The most famous of the cakes is the Chocolate Cake of the Secret Garden, baked on an organic spelt and also served at the guesthouse’s breakfast. Read more on the website of Valkoinen Puu Café & Shop.

Photo: Valkoinen Puu Café & Shop

Meggala Winery

Meggala Winery produces high-quality, aromatic and tasty wines with a passion for professional winemaking and domestic ingredients. You can enjoy Meggala’s drinks at the farm’s own restaurant or buy from the farm shop. In the restaurant and café you can also enjoy snacks with coffee, for example. Meals are served on restaurant days and on request.

In the summer, you can take part in Meggala’s sparkling wine and beer yoga and summer bingo, or take part in a wine tasting and winery tour. During Midsummer, Meggala offers happy summer atmosphere, as people gather for the Midsummer market. Attend also karaoke terrace dance and taste local burgers. Read more on Meggala’s website.

Photo: Mirja Koivisto / Tarinakuva

Visoko’s meditative videos

Take a meditative, about 15-minute virtual trip to Finnish nature with the help of Visoko’s videos. The virtual trip will deepen your connection with nature and you will respect nature more. Your vitality will increase, you will calm down and your stress management will improve. Get a 30% discount on videos in the Visoko’s online store with the code LHGeo. Read more on Visoko’s website.

Photo: Visoko

Experience authentic countryside in the Luomajärvi Horse Inn

Enjoy Southern Europe inspired meals in the Luomajärvi Horse Inn’s quality restaurant. Once a month in the summer, the inn’s restaurant serves delicious Spanish, Italian and French flavors.

The inn offers a wide range of summer activities in a real old-fashioned rural setting. There are e.g. children’s horseback riding, family-friendly Day at the Farm programs, rustic horse-drawn carriage rides and riding hikes available. You can also rent fatbikes and electric touring bikes for your individual adventures on Geopark’s cycling routes. Read more on the Luomajärvi Horse Inn’s website.

Photo: The Luomajärvi Horse Inn

Open Yards in Jämijärvi

Get into the local way of life in a small rural village of Jämijärvi on Saturday 11th of June. The residents open the gates of their yards to visitors and offer a wide range of activities such as flea markets pop-up cafes, concerts and craft workshops. Take part in a fishing competition or go on a boat trip on an old wooden boat. You can also climb the church tower with permission! You can find the map and timetable on the website of the organizer.

Photo: Tuomo Leikkola

Culture in the Finnish capital of art, Kankaanpää

Explore the unique Circle of Art by walking along the Art Trail or cycling around it. The Circle of Art consists of more than a hundred works of art permanently placed in the urban environment. IN the Circle of Art the work of art, the environment and the landscape meet in the finest possible way.

Kankaanpää Market Square is popular meeting place for the residents of wide region. The market is open all year round on Thursdays and also on summer Saturdays. At the end of the summer, the traditional Hörhiäisviikko event offers a wide range of music, art, sport, well-being and a nice market spirit. Read more on the City of Kankaanpää’s website.

Photo: Mirja Koivisto / Tarinakuva

Kankaanpää Art Association’s brick workshops

Design your own brick in the Art Association’s workshop. The bricks will be placed in the brick wall of the Circle of Art. In May, the Kankaanpää Art Association organized these workshops. It is still possible to participate in the workshop on Saturday 28th af May from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Inquiries: Kankaanpää Art Association

Photo: Laura Koivumäki



Please, always mind nature and other people during your nature trips. Respect nature in every way and keep your pets in leash. Prevent the waste in advance and bring your rubbish from the nature and sort them properly.

Please, use the marked routes that lead you to the best sites. Using marked trails prevent the harmful effects on nature elsewhere. Each mode of transport has its own routes. Stay in the terrain only in areas designated for camping. Read more on the website.

Photo: Metsähallitus Parks & Wildlife Finland, Outdoor Etiquette


Get to know the inhabitants, the culture and the nature of the area through the Geopark’s In a blink of an eye promotional film. What we see in a blink of an eye is the result of billions of years of geological evolution.

Watch the video on YouTube and enjoy!

Photo: Terttu Hermansson, Siikainen

Main photo: Mirja Koivisto / Tarinakuva

Other photos: Aili Raudla-Majakangas, Terttu Hermansson

#lhgeopark #unescoglobalgeoparks #europeangeoparks #finnishgeoparks  #unesco #twobillionyeartours #kahdenmiljardinvuodenmatkalla #outdoor #retkeily #luontomatkailu #pyörämatkailu #cyclingtourism #hyvinvointialuonnosta #taiteidenreitti #visittampere #visitlakeus #visitpori #visitsatakunta



The movie ”NÄÄ MAAT, NÄÄ MANNUT – MEIDÄN KAUHAJOKI” ("these lands, these places - our Kauhajoki”) produced by Kauhajoki-Seura is a product of volunteer work and love, made as a tribute to the region and its nature.

These lands, these places

The movie ”NÄÄ MAAT, NÄÄ MANNUT – MEIDÄN KAUHAJOKI” (“these lands, these places – our Kauhajoki”) produced by Kauhajoki-Seura premiered in Bio Marlon in autumn 2021. The movie is a product of volunteer work and love, made as a tribute to the region and its nature. The filmmakers were happy when the audience found the film and new showings needed to be added, one after another. The popularity of the film also contributed to their biggest wish: that the experiences shown in the film would inspire to cherish our ancient heritage and go explore the diverse environment of our home region.

The film is based on Kauhajoki’s exceptionally extensive local heritage literature that covers over 100 titles. In particular, its nature and the cultural landscape are described thoroughly in a series of five books: Kauhajoen luonnonkirja (“The book of Kauhajoki nature”, 1983); Kauhajoen vesien kirja (“The book of Kauhajoki waters”, 1991); Kauhajoen metsien ja soiden kirja (“The book of Kauhajoki forests and mires”, 1999); Hämes-Havunen (2006); and Kauhajoen kulttuurimaisemien kirja (“The book of the cultural landscapes of Kauhajoki”, 2012). The books were also a marvel of volunteer efforts: every one of the approximately 100 authors wrote articles about their area of expertise without compensation. The same applied to the dozens of photographers. The books were also published and the editions of 2,000-3,000 books were sold as volunteer work by the Lions clubs.

The books are a source of many wonderful discoveries. What the bedrock tells about the history of our entire planet and the soil about the many glacial periods; What the brown trout in headwaters and the herb-rich forests by the brooks reveal about the groundwaters. The list could go on and on: the power of erosion, the breathtaking grand mires, the cultural landscapes of the Hyypänlaakso valley and the open terrain…

Over the decades, the books have provided a lot of information. Some of them only exist as archive copies now. Suddenly, there was a need to preserve them for younger generations and open the treasure trove of knowledge to the communal use of all interested parties using digital methods, both as a traditional reading experience and through editing from substantial data material. This work received Leader support from the Suupohja Development Association. The work was also motivated by the Geopark project, which is a joint project between local authorities and Metsähallitus, which presents the unique characteristics of our nature to an international audience. Maybe we could support that too.

In spring 2019, the Kauhajoki tutuksi (“Get to know Kauhajoki”) website was completed at www.kauhajoki.net. At the heart of the website are the digitized local heritage books with featured photos and videos. The videos were considered important from the start of the digital project. The goal of creating about ten videos seemed to be very ambitious at first but as the enthusiasm of the participants grew, the efforts resulted in 11 videos. The videos were created by 20 active filmmakers, screenwriters, cinematographers, editors, narrators and recorders. Some of the music was written specifically for them. As the videos were starting to take shape, the filmmaking team got the idea to also create a movie that audiences could see on the large cinema screen.

It was time to return to the roots of local heritage work – volunteering. Compiling the videos into a film required an interesting beginning, narration leading from one subject to another, new video material, more music and an emotional ending. At the same time, it had to be accepted that there would be some repetition, as it was not in the plans to re-edit the independent videos. Pentti Kakkori, an expert in photography and film, took the responsibility for this work. The many creations of the previous cinematographers also helped add to the new imagery.  Pentti also received the support he needed for narrations and music from other friends of the region. All names appear in the end credits. Pentti says he’s very grateful to all of them.

So, what do movie audiences think after 70 minutes? It’s easy to sense that the region is dear to the audiences, and they were focused and interested when watching the movie based on the familiar landscapes. Even the repetitions were welcomed. Practice makes perfect, and so does repetition!


The article is written by Liisa Ruismäki, Chairperson of Kauhajoki-Seura (Kauhajoki Association) and Jussi Kleemola (in the photo), Chair of the admin group of the “Kauhajoki tutuksi” website (“Get to know Kauhajoki”)

Photos: Pentti Kakkori

Photo at the top: Mirja Koivisto

Photo beneath: Terttu Hermansson

"It’s easy to sense that the region is dear to the audiences."

4-H Forest Days for the youngsters

Schoolchildren have learned about the Geopark and the use and values of forests on 4-H Forest Days in Niiniharju, Hämeenkangas.

The Geopark Rangers have told young people about the Geopark and the excursion destination during the 4-H association’s Forest Days in Niiniharju in Jämi. The Forest Days have been organized by the 4-H of Satakunta area, and the Forestry Association Karhu and the Geopark have been involved in offering the program for the days. The Finnish Forest Foundation finances a considerable part of the transport costs of the schoolchildren.

Photo: Annukka Pörsti

In the 4-H Forest Days, which are held every year all over Finland, young people get information about the forest, learn the skills of being in forest and together observe the forest nature. In addition, the information provided in the Forest Days include work in forest sector, fire handling, every man’s rights, recycling etc.

Photo: Pasi Talvitie

At the Forest Days in autumn 2021 in Niiniharju, Hämeenkangas, Geopark Ranger Kristiina Peltomaa told the schoolchildren about Lauhanvuori-Hämeenkangas UNESCO Global Geopark. UNESCO status indicates that the area is geologically valuable and unique.

Kristiina explained to the youngsters how certain events in history, such as the Ice Age, have affected the area and how its signs are visible around the feet and in local traditions. The stories told on the particular place made the events of history alive. Schoolchildren ran down and up the kettle hole. The exercise made the youngsters familiar with the landforms and the landscape of the area.

Photo: Annukka Pörsti

After the Geopark introduction, the images attached to the trees of the forests were searched. In the images, flora and fauna typical to the area were presented. The species in the images were identified and it was discussed together how the species relate to this particular environment and to each other and why this habitat is important to them.

Photo: Päivi Lindfors

Kristiina had also hidden buckets in the terrain, in which she had collected various samples for the participants to examine. There were various lichens in one bucket, mosses in another, cones in the third, and differnt kind of seeds in the fourth. Especially the characteristics and dispersal strategies of different seeds seemed to be a particularly interesting topic among young people as completely new things were learned about them.

Photo: Annukka Pörsti

During the Geopark session, the dry leaves of Tilia cordata were also examined. The name of the place, Niiniharju, refers to the tree species. Kristiina told about the Atlantic period, when deciduous forests were common further north in Finland. The effects of the warmer climate period are still visible in the tree species of Niiniharju. In the past, the locals made ropes out of Tilia cordata to pay taxes to the Kingdom of Sweden, in which the area of Finland was a part.

Photo: Pasi Talvitie

Of course, the highlights of the trip include lunch. Pupils enjoyed the snacks provided by their own schools. In addition to that, 4-H provided delicious sausages by a campfire.

Photo: Terttu Hermansson

During the 4-H Forest Days, numerous schoolchildren in the Geopark and surrounding areas have got information about the Geopark and about forests and their values and use. At the Forest Days, young people have learned important things during a happy time spent together in nature and through practical activities. The 4-H Forest Days are a great opportunity for Geopark to pass on valuable information to young people in collaboration with partner organisations.

Photo: Anna-Kaisa Valaja

The Geopark has piloted environmental education measures at the 4-H Forest Days as part of rural-funded projects. Parkanon Säästöpankkisäätiö Foundation has supported the Geopark’s participation in the Forest Days. We are grateful for the good cooperation!

#lhgeopark #unescoglobalgeoparks #geopark #globalgeoparks #europeangeoparks #finnishgeoparks #unesco #lauhanvuoriregion #outdoor #retkeily #luontomatkailu #hyvinvointialuonnosta #sdgs2030 #geoeducation

Text: Laura Koivumäki

Photo: Terttu Hermansson

Main photo: Pasi Talvitie, Hämeenkangas

Last photo: Terttu Hermansson 

In the 4-H Forest Days, young people learn by being and doing in nature

Built cultural environments of the Geopark

There are diverse built cultural environments in the Lauhanvuori - Hämeenkangas UNESCO Global Geopark. The area has historic countryside with peasant houses and more modern architecture.

Built cultural environment

The built cultural environment consists of  structures of a community, buildings with indoor and outdoor spaces, courtyards, parks, bridges and other elements. The built cultural environment includes both old peasant houses and modern industrial buildings. Often the unique architecture as well as the representative buildings and villages sare landmarks and emblems of their area.

Photo: Laura Koivumäki, Kankaanpää Academy

There are several nationally significant built environments in the Geopark area. There is representative peasant architecture in the villages of Vuorijärvi and Leppijärvi in Siikainen, Karviankylä in Karvia and in the Isojoki River Valley in Isojoki. The red brick architecture of the center of Kankaanpää and the barracks area of the Niinisalo garrison represent modern architecture.

Photo: Terttu Hermansson, Siikainen

The peasant architecture of Siikainen

The Siikainen area once had large forest resources and, in addition to them, good log floating opportunities to nearby sawmills. The selling of logs made the peasants wealthy. They showed prosperity by grand buildings. The gems of peasant architecture of Siikainen are decorative and angled glass porches with numerous window panes. Porches were usually decorated by itinerant builders who had gained the skills by building ships. They could get paid a coin, one mark, for every window pane.

Glass porches are beautiful but also laborious to make and maintain. It is said that there was a porch in Ylisentalo in Vuorijärvi Village with a window pane for every day of the year. The hostess of the house was very tired of washing the tiny windows. The decorative glass porch can also be found in the old elementary school in the center of Siikainen, which was built in 1882. The building has been called the porch school and today it is a local history museum.

Photo: Sari Vuorela, Siikainen Local History Museum

The main buildings of the peasant farms are long and narrow. In addition to the beautiful glass porches, the buildings are often decorated with dinner bells on the roofs. Well-preserved examples of the old building stock can be found, for example, in the villages of Vuorijärvi and Leppijärvi.

Photo: Terttu Hermansson, Siikainen


A representative example of 19th-century South Ostrobothnian peasant architecture in Kauhajoki is the Hämes-Havunen closed yard complex. The complex is part of the Hyypänjokilaakso landscape management area and is currently a popular venue. It is the best-preserved old building stock in the area and is closely linked to the history of the settlement of the Kauhajoki River.

Hämes-Havunen’s two-storey main house was built in 1827 and the small house in the 1860s. The third side of the yard is bordered by a long row of barns, and the sides of the area are bordered by animal shelters and a barn. Outside the closed yard you will find a sauna, a workshop and two barns. The buildings were laid out in the shape of a closed yard for practical reasons. The closed yard protected from meat-eating beasts. The construction method also saved space.

Photo: Kauhajoen kaupunki, Hämes-Havunen

Hämes-Havunen is located by the Kyrönjoki River. The old Kyrönkangas road from the medieval times passes the farm. It is known that Tyni Hannunpoika, the ancestor of the Havunen family, arrived along the road in the 17th century. The first building on the site was a fishing hut built by the river. Residential and other buildings were later built. Once a tavern served bypassers in Hämes-Havunen. Construction on the present site began in the 19th century.

Photo: Riitta Alapiha, Hämes-Havunen

An author and a collector of folklore Samuli Paulaharju described the settlement of Kauhajoki in 1935 as follows (in Finnish): ”Sanotaan Hämeen rintamailta, Hauhoosta tulleen ensimmäisen talontekijän näin maille, ja Hämes-Havuusen hän ryskäsi jokirantaan – tulevalle Kauhajoen rinnalle. Kolkkona korpena, rumana ryteikkönä silloin oli koko ranta, kun hauhoolainen sen otti kotopaikakseen.” 

“Mutta rintaa se nyt on. Ja komeana kohoaa nyt Hämes-Havunen rukihisten peltojensa keskellä, ja ylpeinä seisoa könnäävät varijalaat isäntänsä ja kotopaikkansa vartijoona. Siinä kaksikerroksinen tuparati, vellikello vielä harjalla, porttikäytävä pihaan, hauskat ristikkoaidat talontien kahta puolta, ja tien vieressä vanhojen aittojen sievä kunnianarvoisa kolmiyhteys. Hyvin kehtaa olla koko pitäjehen vanhimpana.” 

Photo: Riitta Alapiha, Hämes-Havunen

Hämes-Havunen is a magnificent and nationally valuable architectural heritage site. In Southern Ostrobothnia, the selling of tar made peasants wealthy. Thus it was possible to build grand residential buildings and surrounding outbuildings. Hämes-Havunen had a large amount of forest. Tar as well as animal husbandry made the farm rich. There used to be a tradition in the area that the family house should always be left to the next generation in better condition than it has been received. Thus the farms became more grand generation by generation. The municipality of Kauhajoki bought the building complex in the 1970s and it was renovated.

Photo: Riitta Alapiha, Hämes-Havunen

Sanssi Manor House

Sanssi Manor House, which currently serves as a venue and a banquet hall, is located in the center of Kauhajoki. Despite its name, the building has not been an actual mansion, but a large farm. In the 19th century, this Yli-Knuuttila farm was owned by the Von Schantz family, who came to Finland from Germany, and from which the building got its name. The main building was built in 1863.

The farm was owned by the family for over a hundred years, and during that time the farm had three different masters. All of them were well-known men in Kauhajoki and active in positions of responsibility. The family sold the manor to the municipality of Kauhajoki in 1903, and the building served as a nursing home until 1986. In 1997, Sanssinkartano was renovated to its current glory.

Photo: Sirkku Ylikoski, Sanssi Manor House

Isojoki River Valley village settlement and the church landscape

In Isojoki, the traditional South Ostrobothnian building stock can be found in the Isojoki River Valley. Isojoki was a wilderness area for a long time, until in the 16th century. During the Vaasa period, wilderness began to be inhabited and taken for cultivation. At that time, the settlement naturally settled on the fertile lands of the river valley.

The historical settlement on the ridges of the hills adjacent to the Isojoki River Valley has been preserved in the vicinity of the church and in Koppelonkylä. The area has typical South Ostrobothnian-style long, one-and-a-half-storey peasant buildings with enclosed square courtyards. Old stone fences line the old roads in the Isojoki River Valley. The centerpiece of the field landscape is a cross church designed by Carl Ludvig Engel from 1833.

Photo: Isojoki Church

Karviankylä Village

Karviankylä village represents the oldest village settlement in Karvia, and its history dates back to the mid-17th century. The village has a typical peasant building stock from northern Satakunta. The most notable of the individual buildings is the Lähdeniemi building group, which includes the main building, a granary row, a special-shaped warehouse and an old basement. The small fields of the agricultural landscape slope towards the Karvianjärvi Lake.

Photo: Arto Ala-Karvia, Karviankylä Village

The old granary of Kontti Village

In Kontti Village in Jämijärvi is an interesting historical building, the old granary of Kontti’s farm. The granary may be one of the oldest wooden buildings in Finland and may date from 1553, as this year’s engraving can be found on the wall of the granary. The granary may have been moved to its current location in 1880. According to the memory, the building has been used, among other things, temporarily to store clothes and other small items.

If the granary was indeed built in the 1550s, which is likely, it has its roots in the time hunting and fishing economy of the Northern Satakunta. Therefore, its original use has probably been the preservation of grains and possibly the preservation of game birds and furskins.

Photo: Tuomo Leikkola, Kontti Village

The architecture of Kankaanpää

There is more modern architecture in Kankaanpää, of which’s center is a lively and traditional marketplace. There are business spaces around the marketplace dating back to the reconstruction period. One of the most interesting buildings is Postelli from the 1930s, a former post office. Today, there is a cozy café in the building.

Photo: Laura Koivumäki, Postelli

In Kankaanpää, market days began to be held in 1902 in the square in front of the church. The market was moved to its current location in 1912, after which the center of Kankaanpää began to form around it. As the popularity of the market grew, the rather small market area was expanded and the sheds with wood shingle roofs were built.

At first, animals were also sold at the market, but later a separate animal market was set up for the animal trade. Partly with the market days, Kankaanpää became the center of its economic area, and the market days became the market of the whole area of the northern Satakunta. The market of Kankaanpää is still lively, and market days are held once a week on Thursdays, and also on Saturdays during the summer.

Photo: Niilo Santaharju, Satakunta Museum, Museovirasto-Finna, Kankaanpää marketplace at 1928

Kankaanpää is known for its distinctive red brick architecture. Red brick was chosen as a façade material due to the local brick industry. Later, red brick was deliberately chosen, and it became a very popular building material in Kankaanpää, both in public buildings and in residential, commercial and industrial construction.

Photo: Juha Levonen, Kankaanpää

The main architectural sites of Kankaanpää are the town hall from 1967 and the sports center and a former parish center, which were completed in the 1970s. These buildings were designed by Kaija and Heikki Siren. The office center, completed in 1992, is also a well-known red brick, and was designed by Kouvo & Partanen Architects. The same office has designed the Kankaanpää Art School, which was completed in 1995. You may find the sites on the architectural map.

Photo: Laura Koivumäki, Kankaanpään Town Hall

You can get to know the interesting architecture of Kankaanpää with the exhibition VIIVA of the Kankaanpää Town Museum. The exhibition tells about modern architecture and urban planning in Kankaanpää from the 1930s to the present day. The exhibition is open until April 2022.

Photo: Kankaanpään Town Museum

The barracks area of the Niinisalo garrison

The barracks area of the Niinisalo garrison in Kankaanpää is one of the nationally significant built cultural environments. It represents the advanced architecture of the Finnish Defense Forces in the 1930s. The Niinisalo barracks area was established in the 1930s as a nationwide military refresher course center.

The buildings represent ascetic functionalism, characterized by smooth plastered facades. In the middle of the area is a barracks building built in 1935 as a military refresher course center for the army. The main designer of the area was architect Kalle Lehtovuori. In addition to the barracks building, he designed other essential buildings in the 1930s, such as the sauna, the hospital, the kitchen, the canteen as well as the cafe and bakery building, the apartment building of the officers, and the test shooting station.

Photo: Museovirasto-Finna, Niinisalo garrison in 1939

In the 1940s, the LottaSvärd cafe, which is nowadays a canteen, was built. The building was restored in the 1990s according to the original architecture. Next to the building is the former residential building of the Lottas, Impilinna, built in the 1940s.

Photo: Laura Koivumäki, Niinisalo Canteen

In 1957-1958, residential buildings were built in Niinisalo using the Selvaag method. The Selvaag houses originate in Norway where they were designed for the needs of the post-war housing shortage. The houses have been built using very simple methods without anything useless and irrelevant. The low price of residential houses and the speed of construction were important features during the reconstruction period. In Finland, in addition to Niinisalo, there are Selvaag houses in Helsinki, Oulu and Joensuu, among others.

Photo: Laura Koivumäki, Niinisalon Selvaag Houses

The built cultural environments are the representative landmarks of the Geopark

Cultural environments representing different eras and building styles can be found in the Geopark area. The unique architecture and buildings are representative landmarks of municipalities and villages. Peasant architecture expresses former life in the countryside. The area’s natural resources of the forests made the peasants wealthy. The wealth was shown by grand houses with beautiful porches. Across the Geopark area you can find such Magnificent old peasant houses and these historic courtyards.

Photo: Eino Nikkilä, Museokeskus-Finna, Otamo’s Vanhatalo at 1930

Those looking for more modern architecture can admire Kankaanpää’s distinctive red-brick architecture and the town’s lively market square with its surroundings. By the Niinisalo garrison, you can get acquainted with the nationally significant built environment. The garrison brought life and services to the area. In the 1940s, several cafés, a hotel and a cinema were found along the village road of Niinisalo.

Photo: Museovirasto-Finna, Niinisalo Centre at the 1970’s

Text: Jenna-Maria Lehmijoki

Main photo: Riitta Alapiha

Photos of the other headings: Terttu Hermansson, Julia Kivelä

Literature (in Finnish):

Collander, Raija. 1999. Siikaisten lasikuistit – Pohjois-Satakunnan kaunottaret.

Kankaanpään kaupunginmuseo Museo – Kankaanpään kaupunki (kankaanpaa.fi) 

Kankaanpään kulttuuriympäristöohjelma https://www.kankaanpaa.fi/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/Kankaanpaan_kulttuuriymparistoohjelma.pdf 

Museovirasto https://www.museovirasto.fi/fi/kulttuuriymparisto/rakennettu-kulttuuriymparisto/valtakunnallisesti-merkittavat-rakennetut-kulttuuriymparistot

Lions Club Kauhajoki ry. 2006. Hämes-Havunen – Pohjalaista rakennustaitoa jälkipolville.  Hämes-Havunen | Kauhajoki tutuksi

Museoviraston Valtakunnallisesti merkittävät rakennetut kulttuuriympäristöt –palvelu RKY  ι  Museovirasto

Parkanon rakennetun ympärstön selvitys https://www.parkano.fi/images/stories/Parkanon_rakennetut_kulttuuriympristt.pdf

Pihlaja, Mirjam. 1984. Isojoen pitäjän kirja

Satakunnan Museon y-pakki palvelu y-pakki – tietoa palvelusta (y-pakki.fi)

Selvaag-talot https://fi.wikipedia.org/wiki/Selvaag-talo

Siikaisten matkailukohteet Kohteet – Siikainen 

Uusi-Seppä, Niina. 2012. Satakunnan kulttuuriympäristöt – eilen, tänään, huomenna.

Valonen, N. 1946. Vuosiluvulla merkittyjä rakennuksia Ikaalisten ja Parkanon seudulta. Satakunnan Kotiseutututkimuksia 12.

Explore the Geopark’s valuable built cultural environments


Learn more on the web pages of Kauhajoki (in Finnish).

Address: Koskenkyläntie 312, Kauhajoki

Coordinates (WGS84): 62.38943, 22.23896

Photo: Riitta Alapiha


Learn more on the web pages of Finnish Heritage Agency (in Finnish).

Address: Honkajoentie 1, Isojoki (Isojoen kirkon parkkipaikka)

Coordinates (WGS84): 62.11373, 21.95791

Photo: Isojoki Church

The architecture of Kankaanpää

Learn more the web pages of Visit Kankaanpää (in Finnish).

Address: Kauppatori 2, Kankaanpää (Kankaanpään marketplace)

Coordinates (WGS84): 61.80447, 22.39438

Photo: Kankaanpää

Karviankylä Village

Learn more the Lauhanvuoriregion.fi web pages.

Address: Karviankyläntie 592, Karvia

Coordinates (WGS84): 62.21920, 22.67459

Photo: Arto Ala-Karvia, Karviankylä Village

The old granary of Kontti Village

Address: Private

Photo: Tuomo Leikkola

The barracks area of the Niinisalo garrison

Learn more on the web pages of Finnish Heritage Agency (in Finnish).

Address: Kotitie 32, Niinisalo (Niinisalo Canteen)

Coordinates (WGS84): 61.83884, 22.46868

Photo: Museovirasto-Finna

Sanssi Manor House

Learn more on the web pages of Sanssi Manor House (in Finnish).

Address: Ullantie 7, Kauhajoki

Coordinates (WGS84): 62.42490, 22.17587

Photo: Sanssi Manor House

The peasant architecture of Siikainen

Learn more on the web pages of Siikainen (in Finnish).

Address: Kirkkotie 3, Siikainen (Siikainen Local History Museum)

Coordinates (WGS84): 61.87163, 21.81983

Photo: Sari Vuorela

There is valuable cultural heritage in the Geopark

Cultural landscapes and villages

The beautiful cultural landscapes and rural villages of Lauhanvuori - Hämeenkangas UNESCO Global Geopark are part of the cultural heritage of the area. These environments tell us about the lives of past generations.


Cultural environments are areas and places that have arisen from the interaction of man and nature. Cultural environments consist of ancient relics, architectural heritage and cultural landscapes. In cultural landscapes traces of both natural history and human activities can be seen. Signs of the Ice Age, as well as people’s livelihoods, housing, movement and beliefs, can be found in the cultural landscape.

Photo: Terttu Hermansson, Siikainen

We have 156 nationally valuable landscapes in Finland which are the most representative cultural landscapes of our countryside. In the Geopark area, Hyypänjokilaakso and Vihteljärvi-Niemenkylä are nationally valuable landscape areas. There are also other beautiful cultural landscapes and historic rural villages in the area. Along watercourses, for example, culturally and historically significant sites with traces of mill and sawmill activities can be found.

Photo: Antti Luusalo, Kairokoski, Parkano


The nationally valuable landscape area of the Hyypänjoki valley is located in Kauhajoki. The valley’s impressive landforms, together with the area’s geological background, biodiversity and human impact, make the area especially valuable. The building stock with its Ostrobothnian features, barns and other rural buildings, forest pastures, open ditches and forest islands represent an open countryside landscape.

The Hyypänjoki valley is a living countryside that is actively managed. One of its special features is the lively village activities. The main occupation of the area is agriculture, the practice of which began in the 16th century with permanent settlement. In total, the Hyypänjoki valley includes twenty different villages. Hyyppä is one of the first villages in Kauhajoki, and it was formerly known as Rauhanhyyppä.

Photo: Terttu Hermansson, Hyypänjoki, Kauhajoki

The Hyypänjoki valley has buildings of many ages and the oldest structures date back to  the 18th century. The building stock is characterized by Ostrobothnian features, such as the grouping of buildings around a closed yard that protects from the wind.

The closed yards in the area have been partially opened, and therefore there are very few left. However, most yards are still bounded on at least two sides by a building. The main building of many of the old farms is a large, one and a half storey, long rectangular and red-molded Ostrobothnian house. The best-known example of the old building stock is Hämes-Havunen which is currently a popular venue.

Photo: Riitta Alapiha, Hämes-Havunen, Kauhajoki


The formation of Vihteljärvi-Niemenkylä cultural landscape in Kankaanpää and Lavia has been influenced by the drying of the lakes at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. As a result, coastal waters turned into accretion and to meadows. Later, the meadows were cleared as arable land. Over time, small field patches merged, and today there are large open fields in the area.

According to some stories, the village of Vihteljärvi has been the most famous shoemaker village in our country. A tight community of shoemakers formed around the Vihteljärvi lake even before the 20th century. Shoemaking was a common profession in Kankaanpää, which greatly influenced the development of the municipality. As elsewhere, in the village of Vihteljärvi the profession was often inherited from father to son, which strengthened the area’s shoemaking community and the preservation of tradition.

Photo: Pasi Talvitie, Vihteljärvi, Kankaanpää

The classic rural community house Toukola from 1936 and farm houses from the early 20th century represent the old building stock of Vihteljärvi village. In the courtyards of several farms you will find old buildings such as various types of barns. The beautiful porches of the main buildings are typical in the village.

Photo: Pasi Talvitie, Toukola, Kankaanpää


The cultural landscape of the Ruokojärvi lake in Kankaanpää is of national value. The landscape originates from the 16th century as people settled down in the old hunting areas of Satakunta. The landscape is formed by groups of old buildings, fields by the lake and Kankaanpää Church.

Alakylä village is the old village of Kankaanpää, and it represents the oldest peasant settlement in the region. The village is located by the lake. Alakylä village has retained the look of an old rural village, although a town has been formed next to it. Farms dating back to the 19th century form a cohesive group in the field landscape between the church and the lake. The oldest road in Kankaanpää has passed between the courtyard buildings of Päivike and Vanha-Honko farms. On the shores of the Ruokojärvi lake is an ancient gathering place for young people, Kelminmäki.

Photo: Laura Koivumäki, Ruokojärvi, Kankaanpää

The premises of the folk high school, Kankaanpää Institute, founded in 1909, are located by the Ruokojärvi lake. The main building, built in the classical style, dates from 1928 and was designed by Elias Paalanen. The art nouveau dormitory dates back to 1914.

Photo: Laura Koivumäki, Kankaanpää Institute, Kankaanpää


In Parkano, the Viinikanjoki river and the low-lying riparian fields form a cultural landscape. The landscape has formed over time as a result of a long period of clearing and the establishment and division of farms. Historically, agriculture was concentrated on the lower shores of the Viinikanjoki river and the Kirkkojärvi lake. The Viinikanjoki region represents the oldest agricultural landscape in its area. According to folklore, Parkano takes its name from the peeled spruce or pine, which grew from the confluence of the river that flows from the Kirkkojärvi lake to the Viinikanjoki river.

Photo: Antti Luusalo, Viinikanjoki, Parkano

In the agricultural landscape of the Viinikanjoki river is the square, rustic courtyard of Kana farm. The farm has presumably been in the same place since the Middle Ages. The village of Parkano developed around Kana farm. The current main building dates from the 1880s and the barn building from the early 20th century. In addition, there are several other old buildings in the courtyard.

The Viinikanjoki river and its surroundings have been an important route, wilderness area and place of residence. The river is part of a chain of rivers and lakes north of the Kyrösjärvi lake. During the Bronze and Iron Ages, it offered the population of Lower Satakunta and Pirkanmaa a route towards the Kyrönjoki river, and in the Middle Ages the Viinikanjoki branch was part of Kyrönkangas winter road.

Photo: Antti Luusalo, Kana House, Parkano


The cultural landscape of the Karvianjoki river is located in Kankaanpää, where the Karvianjoki river flows through the meadow and agricultural landscape of northern Satakunta. The settlement is concentrated on the upper slopes of the riverside and along roadsides. The old building stock dates from the 19th century. In the village of Honkajoki, the river landscape includes natural rapids, grand trees, groves and natural streams.

Photo: Matti Poutvaara, National Board of Antiquities Finna, Kankaanpää


On the former border between Honkajoki and Kankaanpää, the rapids of Iso-Haapakoski were the strongest rapids of the municipality. A dam and power plant were built in the rapids in 1927, and the name of the place became Vatajankoski instead of Iso-Hapaakoski. In the 1930s, a power plant bridge was built across the river. The power plant played a major role in the lives of the locals. It improved the living standards of the residents and enabled amenities. The village of Vataja began to grow around the power plant.

Photo: Laura Koivumäki, Vatajankoski, Kankaanpää

Lankoski in Honkajoki is one of the many rapids on the Karvianjoki river. On the shore of the rapids is the Ylinen mill, which serves as a mill museum and is still in its original place. It was originally a watermill, but over the years the machinery was changed to electric. There is an old and well-maintained building stock around the rapids. The main building of Lankoski farm dates back to 1770. The decorative porch belonging to the building was built at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries.

Photo: Hanna-Mari Kamppikoski, Lankoski, Kankaanpää


In Kanttikoski in Karvia there is a culturally and historically significant Kantti sawmill and mill area. It is known that there has been a mill in the rapids as early as in the 18th century. Myllykoski sawmill received its privilege in 1846. The sawmill ended at the beginning of the 20th century, and the mill continued until 1920. After this, Kantinkoski power plant was established in the rapids.

The place is also known as Vartti sawmill and Varttinkoski. In 1932, businessman Julius Vartti bought a power plant in Kanttikoski, an electricity network, a sawmill and an electric mill that was located in the village center. Vartti sawmill was once a major employer in Karvia. It employed about 30-40 people and there were men from almost all of the houses of the village working at the sawmill.

Today, an old stone-vaulted bridge remains in the area, next to which the former mill floor can still be seen. The bridge offers a beautiful view of the surroundings of Varttinkoski.

Photo: Pasi Talvitie, Kantti, Karvia


Across the Geopark, there are beautiful, historic rural villages that are among the most valuable cultural sites in this UNESCO region. The village settlement of the Isojoki river valley and the church landscape of the Isojoki river, Karviankylä and the villages of Leppijärvi and Vuorijärvi in Siikainen are of national value. In addition, the Geopark has numerous other idyllic village environments of great regional and local importance.

Photo: Terttu Hermansson, Siikainen


Historic and idyllic rural villages form the settlement-historical stratum of the cultural environment. The concept of a village was born to unite houses in a particular residential area and their holdings for taxpayer accounting. The names of the villages in the tax list were especially important when surnames did not yet exist. In Kauhajoki, for example, the names of houses were not recorded until the 17th century.

Photo: Tuomo Leikkola, Rannanperä, Jämijärvi

The key elements of the agricultural-oriented cultural landscape are fields, meadows and settlements with outbuildings. The location of the settlement has been influenced by, among other things, natural conditions, and therefore there are different types of villages in different parts of  Finland. In Ostrobothnia, for example, settlements were formed on riverside and historic riverside villages can be found in municipalities of Kauhajoki, Isojoki and Karijoki.

Photo: Terttu Hermansson, the Hyypänjoki valley, Kauhajoki


There are many lively rural villages in the Geopark, where village associations and common voluntary work are still popular. The villages host a wide range of activities and events. The villages also offer great opportunities for various nature activities such as skiing, cycling, fishing and swimming. In summer, summer residents and guests enrich village life. Over the years, services have been concentrated in the centres of municipalities and towns, but there is still active cooperation among the residents in the villages.

The rural cultural landscapes and villages of the Geopark area reveal the history of the area. In the villages you can make a time-jump from the early days of the settlement of the region to the present day. In the villages and cultural landscapes, you can admire the old building stock and the beautiful rural landscapes.

Photo: Kurkikorpi Grandma’s

Text: Jenna-Maria Lehmijoki

Main photo: Tuomo Leikkola

Photos of the other headings: Tuomo Leikkola, Riitta Alapiha

Literature (in Finnish): 

Etelä-pohjanmaan maakunnallinen rakennusinventointi 

Hyypänjokilaakson maisemanhoitoalueen käyttö- ja hoitosuunnitelma 

Kankaanpään kulttuuriympäristöohjelma 

Kirjoituksia Vihteljärvestä Vihteljärven kylä – Kirjoituksia (kankaanpaa.fi)


Museoviraston Valtakunnallisesti merkittävät rakennetut kulttuuriympäristöt –palvelu RKY  ι  Museovirasto

Parkanon rakennetun ympäristön selvitys 

Papunen, P. 1996. Ikaalinen eräalueena ja kappeliseurakuntana keskiajalta noin vuoteen 1640. Teoksessa Ikaalisten entisen emäpitäjän historia I vuoteen 1640.

Satakunnan Museon y-pakki palvelu y-pakki – tietoa palvelusta (y-pakki.fi)

Uusikallio, Irja. Vatajankosken mekaanikko Päiviö ryhtyi tehdasmaisesti valmistamaan lankaa pitkin kulkevaa valoa eli voimaa Vatajankosken sähkötehtaasta 1920–1940 –luvuilla. Pro gradu -tutkielma. Turun Yliopisto. 2019. Vatajankoski energian välittäjänä / (utupub.fi)

Ympäristö.fi Karvianjoki Ymparisto > Karvianjoen kosket

Get to know the cultural landscapes and the villages of the Geopark


Learn more on the web pages of Kauhajoki (in Finnish).

Address: Pantintie 61, Kauhajoki (Hyyppä observation tower)

Coordinates (WGS84): 62.308860, 22.26257 (Hyyppä observation tower)

Photo: Terttu Hermansson

The village settlement of the Isojoki valley and the church landscape of the Isojoki river

Learn more on the web pages of Finnish Heritage Agency (in Finnish).

Address: Honkajoentie 1, Isojoki (Isojoen kirkon parkkipaikka)

Coordinates (WGS84): 62.11373, 21.95791

Photo: Isojoki Church


Learn more on the web pages of Karvia (in Finnish).

Photo: Pasi Talvitie, Kantti, Karvia


Learn more on the inventory of Satakunta Regional Council (in Finnish).

Address: Patotie 19, Kankaanpää (Vatajankoski dam)

Coordinates (WGS84): 61.92592, 22.23992

Photo: Matti Poutvaara, Museovirasto-Finna, Kankaanpää


Learn more on the Lauhanvuoriregion.fi web page.

Address: Karviankyläntie 592, Karvia

Coordinates (WGS84): 62.21920, 22.67459

Photo: Arto Ala-Karvia


Learn more on the web pages of Siikainen (in Finnish).

Address: Leppijärventie 585, Siikainen (Katselmankallio crossroads)

Coordinates (WGS84): 61.94687, 21.85061 (Katselmankallio crossroads)

Photo: Terttu Hermansson


Learn more on the web pages of Finnish Heritage Agency (in Finnish).

Address: Laviantie 279, Kankaanpää (parking lot of Kankaanpää Church)

Coordinates (WGS84): 61.79838, 22.40144 (parking lot of Kankaanpää Church)

Photo: Laura Koivumäki


Learn more on the inventory of Satakunta Regional Council (in Finnish).

Address: Laviantie 1155, Kankaanpää (rural community house Toukola)

Coordinates (WGS84): 61.74741, 22.52090 (rural community house Toukola)

Photo: Pasi Talvitie


Learn more on the web pages of the fishers’ association of Parkano (in Finnish).

Address: Parkanontie 118, Parkano (Haapaslammi)

Coordinates (WGS84): 62.01975, 23.02347 (Haapaslammi)

Photo: Antti Luusalo


Learn more on the web pages of Siikainen (in Finnish).

Address: Erkkilä-Ikävalkotie 31, Siikainen

Coordinates (WGS84): 61.83508, 21.98838

Photo: Terttu Hermansson

Fall in love with the cultural landscapes and the villages of the Geopark!

Visit the churchyards of the Geopark

There have been churches in Lauhanvuori - Hämeenkangas UNESCO Global Geopark area since the 17th century. Churches are traces of history and indications of local residents’ co-operation and efforts.

Part of the Finnish cultural landscape

In Finland, the largest religious community is the Evangelical Lutheran Church to which the churches of the Geopark area belong. Churches and cemeteries are part of the centuries old Finnish cultural landscape.

Church towers and campaniles dominate the landscape and they have been visible all around the parish. Churches are the center of a built cultural environment. In Finland, you can see the development of building culture through churches; they represent different building styles and techniques. 

Photo: Honkajoki Church, Honkajoki municipality

Churches are often located in places that have regional and cultural historical significance, where they may have had a long history. For example, Kauhajoki’s current church is the sixth church built on the same site.

Churches and church areas have been meeting places, where people have encountered, exchanged news and even found employees. During church attendance, people heard the latest news and public notices. Churches still function as meeting places, even though their importance as such has diminished over the centuries and decades.

Photo: Finnish Heritage Agency-Finna, Old Kauhajoki Church in 1900

Churchyards are full of memories, great emotions and stories. In cemeteries, you can explore the past of former parishioners, and tombstones and monuments reveal us the history of former residents of the area. At the same time, churchyards are also beautiful and well-maintained parks.  

There are often a fence made of wood or stone that surrounds the churchyard. In the Geopark area, all fences are built with stones, but for example in Kauhajoki churchyard, there has once been a red log fence. In the past, the purpose of fences was to prevent grazing domestic animals or wildlife from entering the churchyard. Today, the fences have mainly symbolic significance when they separate the churchyard from the rest of the environment. 

Photo: Eino Nikkilä, Finnish Heritage Agency-Finna, A stone fence and church stables of Karvia Church in 1930

In addition to churches, several other buildings can be found in the churchyard, including morgues and chapels. Some buildings have already gone down in history, such as church stables. Usually church attendance lasted several hours, and church stables were built for horses as a shelter. Occasionally people stayed in them overnight, too.

Sometimes the church area forms a visually consistent whole, as in Parkano. The number of stones needed for building the bell tower, had been accidentally read as cubic foot instead of a cubic cubit. They are old units of measurement. Leg is about 30 cm and cubit 60 cm. The miscalculation was quite noticeable. It was decided to use the extra stones to build the parish granary, i.e. current museum, and the stone fence. 

Photo: Pasi Talvitie, the bell tower of Parkano Church

The churches were often built in the middle of the village, and the settlement and services began to develop around them. The landscape surrounding the churchyard itself includes a wide range of buildings and building wholes. 

In the surroundings of the Siikainen Church, you can find an old primary school, a rectory and a church bridge. The churchscape of Jämijärvi also includes a rectory, a rectory’s granary, a parish granary as a museum.

Photo: Terttu Hermansson, the old primary school in Siikainen

Next to the Kankaanpää church hill lies Alakylä, an old village of Kankaanpää dating back to the 16th century. Together, the village’s building groups, beach fields and church form the cultural landscape of Ruokojärvi.

The Imperial Decree of 1879 ordered cemeteries to be afar from the village and church. For this reason, an old cemetery, founded in 1890, is located about one kilometer from Kankaanpää Church. From the same year, there is a morgue with wooden shingle roof in the cemetery. The chapel was built in 1956.

Photo: Pekka Kyytinen, Finnish Heritage Agency-Finna, Kankaanpää, Alakylä village in 1948

The birth of the churches in the area

There used to be a long and troublesome journey to the main church from the remoter villages. And on top of that, going to church was mandatory. When the village had enough houses and the population grew, the desire to build an own church or even a chapel began to emerge. 

Building churches required co-operation, funds and organizational capacity, and it was often the greatest effort of the entire community. In addition, a huge amount of building material was needed, and parishioners were obliged to donate it. In Parkano, for example, timber was prescribed according to how large farm was and how it was taxed. Parishioners were also forced to participate in church construction, each according to their own abilities.

Photo: Lusto – The Finnish Forest Museum, Finnish Heritage Agency-Finna, Timber rafting in Parkano


The first church in the area was built in Kauhajoki in 1686. However, the oldest church still standing and functioning can be found in Karvia. It was inaugurated in 1799. The residents were allowed to build a chapel, but they ended up building the whole church with their own permission.

Like almost all churches in the area, the church of Karvia is a cross-shaped wooden church. The church was designed and built by Salomon Köykkä-Köhlström from Jalasjärvi. Parkano Church from 1800, Honkajoki Church from 1810 and Karijoki Church from 1812 are also built by the same person. They all are cross-shaped and wooden too.

Picture: Eino Nikkilä, Finnish Heritage Agency-Finna, Karvia Church in 1931

In 1828, so-called weaponroom was built in the southern side of Honkajoki Church. The weaponroom contained a toolshed and a morgue. Despite the name, no weapons have probably been stored in the weaponroom, but other items instead. 

The photograph of the church and the weaponroom dates back to the 1920s. The weaponroom no longer exists in photographs from the 1930s.

Photo: Finnish Heritage Agency-Finna, Honkajoki Church in the 1920s

In the 19th century, wooden empire churches designed by C. L. Engel were constructed in Isojoki and Kankaanpää. In Isojoki, the church was inaugurated in 1833 and in Kankaanpää 1839. In 1860, rose a neo-gothic church designed by G. Th. Chiewitz to Jämijärvi. The another neo-gothic church rose to Siikainen in 1889, and it was designed by K. A. Reinius. 

Photo: Matti Poutvaara, Finnish Heritage Agency-Finna, Isojoki Church in 1960

In 20th century, the first church to be completed was in Kihniö. The wooden rectangular church designed by Ilmari Launis was ready for use in 1916. In 1934, the Nummijärvi village in Kauhajoki, gained its church due to the hard efforts of the construction community. It was designed by Matti Visanti. Another village in Kauhajoki, Kauhajärvi, got its own church in 1951. That was designed by Jaakko Pelto.

The newest church in the area is Kauhajoki Church, architecturally distinguished from the others. It was constructed in 1958, after the previous church was destroyed by fire in 1956. It was designed by Veikko Larkas. The church is in the form of a Bible standing on its decks with its back upwards.

Photo: Matti Poutvaara, Finnish Heritage Agency-Finna, Kauhajoki Church in 1960

Stories about the churches of the area

Each church has its own history and wide range of distinctive features and stories. Like in Kauhajoki, accidents have occurred in other churches too. The church of Karijoki is also called the church of Helena. According to the story, during the Finnish War the enemy had tried to burn down a church that was under construction, but a girl named Helena managed to put out the fire. 

Parkano Church caught fire in 1928 from a lightning strike. Unfortunately, there was a service in the church at the time of the incident, and the victims were not avoided. The Parkano museum displays the burnt shoes of a boy who survived the fire. In addition, the first church in Siikainen was destroyed by lightning in 1887. 

Photo: Finnish Heritage Agency-Finna, Karijoki Church in 1900

There is a pauper statue on the door of Karvia Church, which dates back to 1960. The original old pauper statue, carved in 1876, was stolen in the 1950s. There was a hole in the statues’ hand for inserting coins. The statue was used for collecting money for the poor, elderly people. In Isojoki Church wall there is a similar statue, which dates back to 1841. 

Photo: Eino Nikkilä, Finnish Heritage Agency-Finna, Pauper statue of Karvia Church in 1930

Church roads are a significant part of the history of churches and the area. They contain a huge amount of memory, information and stories. The Kyrönkangas winter road from Tavastia to Ostrobothnia served as a shortcut to trade and military campaigns, but also as a church road for the area. People travelled via water with their own home boats and especially for this purpose built church boats, which are long rowing boats. 

Journeys to the church have left signs in the landscape. We can find them for example in interesting names of the places. In Kaidatvedet in Parkano, there is a place called Ruumissaari – corpse island. During The Cudgel War, the Great Hatred and Finnish War dead soldiers were buried in that island. In the past, corpses were also stored in the island during winter times. In spring, the bodies were moved and buried to the cemetery.

There is a place called Yösijanmäki, the place to stay overnight, in Hyyppä village, in Kauhajoki, near Kirveskylä village. According to memory, this name is also related to church journeys. The residents of the southern end of the parish had such a long journey to attend services, that they had to sleep on the way. People travelling to the church arrived to Yösijanmäki on Saturday evening, from where they continued towards the church on Sunday morning. At that time, church trips were indeed long, as it was still more than 20 kilometers from Yösijanmäki to the church.

Photo: Pasi Talvitie, Messukallio, Kaidatvedet, Parkano

Church environments are a significant part of our cultural history

Church buildings and environments play an important role both nationally and regionally. According to Finnish Heritage Agency, they are part of our shared national heritage, architectural monuments, structures still used by their parishioners and they represent the continuity of spiritual and material culture from the Middle Ages to the modern day. 

Church buildings are protected by the Church Act, which requires proper maintenance and repair of the buildings. All Evangelical Lutheran churches constructed before 1917 are protected. Even the younger churches can be protected by The Church Councils decision. The protection regulations also apply to other buildings in church environment, such as bell towers, chapels and other traditional buildings.

Photo: Jenni Rankaviita, Karijoki Church

Churches and parishes are closely linked to the development of existing municipalities. Initially, the administrative division was formed according to the settlements. Rural settlements developed around the churches, which later became the basic areal administrative units of the society. The residents began to require for own churches, and as they emerged, the areas were separated from the control of the main churches. Finally parishes developed into municipalities.  

Today municipalities, villages and landscapes are constantly changing everywhere. Old buildings are being demolished and replaced by new ones. Churches still stand out from the landscape and serve as visible remnants of the region’s history. By exploring the phases of the church, you can also explore the past of the entire surrounding area. 

Churches are a significant part of the history the Geopark area. Their stories highlight the efforts and determination of villagers. Church environments are not born by themselves, but have required will and co-operation. Although sometimes their construction and placement have been the subjects of great controversy, they have finally been completed and the church hill has brought people together.

Photo: Matti Poutvaara, Finnish Heritage Agency-Finna, Isojoki in 1960

Text: Jenna-Maria Lehmijoki

Main photo: Sari Vuorela, Siikainen Church

Photos of the other headings: Pasi Talvitie and Tuomo Leikkola


Haarpio, M. 1978: Suomen kirkot ja kirkkotaide part 1.

Jaakola, K. 1983: Hyypän paikannimistö luonnon kuvaajana. In Kauhajoen luonnonkirja. https://kauhajoki.net/kirjat/kauhajoen-luonnonkirja/

Kangas, K.: Karvian historiaa. Oral notification.

Markkola, P. 2006: Ikaalisten entisen emäpitäjän historia III vuodet 1721−1852.

Museovirasto 2021: Kirkolliset kulttuuriympäristöt. https://www.museovirasto.fi/fi/kulttuuriymparisto/rakennettu-kulttuuriymparisto/kirkolliset-kulttuuriymparistot 


Nummijärvi, M. 2012: Keskustaajama. In Kauhajoen kulttuurimaisemien kirja. https://kauhajoki.net/kirjat/kauhajoen-kulttuurimaisemien-kirja/

Perälä, L. 2007: Kyrönkankaan talvitie – Oikotie Hämeestä Pohjanmaalle.

Ruismäki, L. 1987: Kauhajoen historia. https://kauhajoki.net/kirjat/kauhajoen-historia/

Suna, H. 2013: Pyhän rajalla: Kirkkomaan aita osana rakennettua kulttuuriympäristöä. Pro gradu -thesis. Jyväskylän yliopisto. https://jyx.jyu.fi/bitstream/handle/123456789/41319/1/URN%3ANBN%3Afi%3Ajyu-201305071571.pdf

Suomen evankelis-luterilainen kirkko 2021: Seurakunnat. https://evl.fi/seurakunnat

Get acquainted with the churches of the Geopark.

Honkajoki Church

Learn more: Honkajoki Church (in Finnish)

Address: Kauppatie 2, Honkajoki

Coordinates (WGS84): 61.99280, 22.26463

Photo: Aili Raudla-Majakangas

Isojoki Chuch

Learn more: Isojoki Church (in Finnish)

Address: Honkajoentie 1, Isojoki

Coordinates (WGS84): 62.11329, 21.95700

Photo: Isojoki Church

Jämijärvi Church

Learn more: Jämijärvi Church (in Finnish)

Address: Kirkkotie 9, Jämijärvi

Coordinates (WGS84): 61.81701, 22.69616

Photo: Tuomo Leikkola


Kankaanpää Church

Learn more: Kankaanpää Church (in Finnish)

Address: Keskuskatu 64, Kankaanpää

Coordinates (WGS84): 61.79887, 22.40243

Photo: City of Kankaanpää


Karijoki Church

Learn more: Karijoki Church (in Finnish)

Address: Kirkkotie 11, Karijoki

Coordinates (WGS84): 62.31161, 21.70564

Photo: Jenni Rankaviita

Karvia Church

Learn more: Karvia Church (in Finnish)

Address: Kirkkomukka 1 A, Karvia

Coordinates (WGS84): 62.13513, 22.56072

Photo: Sirpa Ala-Rämi

Kauhajoki Church

Learn more: Kauhajoki Church (in Finnish)

Address: Topeeka 9, Kauhajoki

Coordinates (WGS84): 62.42133, 22.17852

Photo: City of Kauhajoki

Kauhajärvi Church

Learn more: Kauhajärvi Church (in Finnish)

Address: Kiviluomantie 842, Kyrönlatva

Coordinates (WGS84): 62.21421, 22.30134

Photo: Laura Koivumäki


Kihniö Church

Learn more: Kihniö Church (in Finnish)

Address: Kuruntie 14, Kihniö

Coordinates (WGS84): 62.20359, 23.18345

Photo: Laura Koivumäki

Nummijärvi Church

Learn more: Nummijärvi Church (in Finnish)

Address: Nummijärventie 512, Nummijärvi

Coordinates (WGS84): 62.28681, 22.44400

Photo: Martti Jokinen, Finnish Heritage Agency-Finna

Parkano Church

Learn more: Parkano Church (in Finnish)

Address: Kirkkopolku 3, Parkano

Coordinates (WGS84): 62.01307, 23.02314

Photo: City of Parkano

Siikainen Church

Learn more: Siikainen Church (in Finnish)

Address: Kirkkotie 1, Siikainen

Coordinates (WGS84): 61.87188, 21.82114

Photo: Sari Vuorela

Churches are a significant part of the history of the Geopark area.

Kauhaneva-Pohjankangas National Park

Kauhanevan-Pohjankangas National Park features fascinating southern boreal mires, gentle eskers and a diverse cultural history.

The mystique of the mire land

Kauhaneva-Pohjankangas National Park is Geopark’s number one mire-themed site, where one of the finest bog complexes in southern Finland meets the extensive forested esker of Pohjankangas. In addition to the Ice Age, the landscape of the area has been affected by the waves of Lake Ancylus and the extensive mire formation that began as the land rose above sea level after the Ice Age.

Of the geological themes in Kauhaneva-Pohjankangas, the following can be seen in particular:

  • soil formations caused by the ice age
  • the formation and development of mires and their surface morphology
  • groundwater formation
  • springs and natural environments enriched by spring water
  • ravines and erosional remnants
  • cultural history linked to geology

Kauhaneva – Pohjankangas National Park has also extensive restored mires and research has been carried out into the climate impact of mire restoration. The cultural history of the National Park includes the Kyrönkangas road dating from prehistoric times, the Finnish War 1808-1809 and the traces of the Great Famine of 1866-1868.


Soil and bedrock features

The landscape of Kauhaneva-Pohjankangas National Park is dominated by soil formations of glacial or biogenic origin. There are no bedrock outcrops marked on maps within the National Park boundary. Even in the vicinity of the park, outcrops are limited to only a few individual cases. 

Under the soil cover, the bedrock of the National Park consists mainly of granite and its close relative granodiorite. Gabbro and quartz diorite are also found in the southwest and west of the park. These rocks, which have slowly crystallized deep underground under high pressure and heat, tell of the great change of the landscape, the collision of continental plates, and the collapse of the mountain range that long ago formed to the Finnish peninsula we now know. At that time, there were also volcanoes in the area, the remains of which can now be found, e.g. From the edges of the Hyypänjoki valley and the scenery of Karvia’s Sarankylä.

Pearl of the mire nature

A gift from the Ice Age

In the end of the last Ice Age, glaciers retreated north. The climate was warming and the surface of the continental glacier was melting rapidly. Water accumulated at the cracks and edges of the glacial lobes, and flowed toward the open Lake Ancylus, south of the glacier. The flowing water carried huge amounts of rock removed by the glacier, which rounded off as it flowed. As the flow rate varied, some of the material accumulated at the bottom of the bed as ridges. This is how the northern part of Pohjankangas, which belongs to the national park, originated.

Further south, masses of water erupting from inside the glacier piled up gravel and sand on the edge of the ice into a huge estuary. As the ice slowly retreated north, the location of the estuary also changed. This gave birth to the southern part of present-day Pohjankangas, which is a permanently closed training area for the Finnish Defense Forces.

After the Ice Age, the Ancylus Lake washed the landscape of the area vigorously. As the land rose, Pohjankangas rose quickly above the water, and beach embankments formed in the coastal zone piled up by waves and ice. These now appear in the landscape as gentle ridges.

Formation and development of bogs

The vast mires of the Kauhaneva originated while the shores of ancient Ancylus Lake were still flushing the area. About 9,000 years ago, there was a bay in the area, which slowly retreated farther as the country rose. The shore was a gentle marshland, with a sedge dominated vegetation. As the land rose, a few small ponds emerged in the area, which, however, soon grew over by peat producing plants.

As the uplift continued, the area was afforested and open water escaped into the valleys of Hyypänjoki and Karvianjoki rivers. However, the humid climate and groundwater conditions led to forest slowly becoming swampy. Surface and groundwater flowing from Nummikangas contributed to the marshland, and eventually the trees in the area died upright. The forest rotted and its remnants were buried in peat. About 5,000 years ago, moss spread to the mire, and the rate of peat accumulation accelerated – Kauhaneva developed into a raised bog.


Today, Kauhaneva has 12 separate raised bog massifs that rise higher than the surrounding mires. In the central part of the bog, there is a wide watery aapa mire flowing from north to south. Waters from Nummikangas accumulate here. The Kauhaneva covers an area of ​​about 1,600 hectares and, together with the adjacent Punttukeidas, it forms a mire complex of about 2,500 hectares.

Kauhaneva is a quite thin peatland compared to its area. Maximum peat thickness 4.7 meters is found  northwest of Kauhalampi. In fact, the largest known peat thickness in the Kauhanevan-Pohjankangas National Park is somewhere very different from the actual bog area – it can be found in Kuivakaivo kettle hole, in the Nummikangas esker, where there is a small bog up to seven meters thick.

Hummocks and hollows

Raised bogs are characterized by a surface structure with alternating dry ridges, hummocks, and wet hollows. Like the height curves, the hummocks form a circumferential structure around the central part of the bog. They are positioned transverse to the flow of bog waters. The typical vegetation of the hummocks consists of moss, twigs and pines.

The hollows are depressions, which can be plant-covered, open peat or mud or waterlogged ponds. Vegetation consists mainly of sedges and mosses.

In Kauhaneva, hummocks and hollows alternate in a way typical to raised bogs. The surface structure originated during the warm climate phase that began about 3,000 years ago. The emergence of the surface geomorphology is facilitated by the maritime climate. In summer, you can move along the hummocks in the swamp with almost dry feet. In winter, it is nice to ski especially along the flat frozen hollow surfaces.

A forested peatland by the Kauhalampi lake

There is a special forest on the northwestern shore of Kauhalampi – thick pine trees rise from the peatland in the middle of the bog. A duckboard trail takes you through the forest, following the shore of the pond. A look at the shore reveals that it is quite steep, and the water level considerably low in relation to the swamp. What’s it all about?

Kauhalampi’s coastal forest is a naturally dried peatland. It’s conditions correspond to the peatlands typical of artificially drained bogs. The development of this dry peatland has however been natural. It is related to the thickness growth of the raised bog and the location at the shore of Kauhalampi, which has acted as a natural drying channel. The northwestern shore is closer to the center of the bog than the opposite shore, which has lead to water escaping from the peatland to the pond. This has been enough to alter the habitat so that a pine forest has grown in the middle of the bog. 

An erosional gorge hidden in the spruce forest

On the western edge of the Kauhaneva-Pohjankangas National Park there is an erosional gorge, Katikankanjoni, which is hidden in the spruce forest. The landscape of the area was annexed to the national park a few years ago. Difference in landscape compared to the vast open Kauhaneva mire is huge. The Katikankanjoni is characterized by steep slopes, large elevation differences and small streams  flowing in the shady spruce forest.

Katikankanjoni is an erosion gorge or a ravine. It is the result of three streams flowing and meandering on a flat sandy esker leveled by the waves of ancient Lake Ancylus. The slow consumption of streams flowing from the direction of Kauhaneva and Kauhajärvi has consumed 20-meter-deep gorges into the ridge. Between the meandering streams, there are erosional remnants, such as the triangular Kolmentuulenlakki (Three Winds Cap). Its flat top tells you what level the ground was at before the erosion.

The demanding Katikankierros hiking trail runs along the creeks of Katikankanjoni. The streams of the meandering streams are still alive today. In the canyon you can see fairly recent landslides and dry remnants of former stream channels. In the spring, there may be floods in Katikankanjoni. Wild trout live in the creeks of the area.

Midsummer festivities were once danced on the plateau at the top of the Kolmentuulenlakki. Now a pine forest grows on the top, but at one time the landscape was more open. Katikankanjoni continues to the north and widens into the great Hyypänjoki Valley, which is one of the largest and deepest valleys in all of Western Finland.

An ancient passage through the wilderness

Kauhaneva is one of the few places where a road belonging to Finland’s medieval highways runs through a mire. The Kyrönkangas summer road, which follows Hämeenkangas and Pohjankangas, crosses Kauhaneva at its narrowest point, flanking Kauhalammi shore. From the 16th century onwards, the maintenance of the section of the road across the bog was the responsibility of the peasants of Ilmajoki parish, situated north of the Geopark. Several bridges and drums were built along the route to lead the waters of Kauhalampi under a narrow road.

The route was already known in prehistoric times. During its existence the surrounding mire has grown in thickness. Maybe crossing the Kauhaneva was initially easier than it is today? Namely, Pohjankangas esker dives into the peat at its northern tip, to rise from the peat as Nummikangas esker about half a kilometer further north.

Automobiles were still driven across the swamp in the 1950s, but since then the road section has been protected as a museum road reserved for walking and cycling. Walking on a narrow road in the middle of the swamp, you can feel the weight of thousands of steps under your feet and imagine the mental landscape of passers-by in the past.

On ancient routes

Lapinkaivo – a pond full of stories

There is a kettle hole in Kauhanevan-Pohjankangas National Park, which is already mentioned in old stories. The place known as Lapinkaivo (Lapland’s well) probably got its name from the ancient Lappish population of the area.

At the end of the Ice Age, a huge glacial river flowed in the area. It piled up sand and gravel on its bottom. The coarsest gravel accumulated in strong streams, the sand in the area of ​​a calmer flow. The handsome rocks of Lapinharju ridge suggest that there was a lot of water flowing on the site. As the ice retreated north, huge blocks of ice occasionally came off it. One of them split at Lapinkaivo and was buried in the sand. As the climate warmed, the ice block melted. All that was left was a large pit that extended below the groundwater level. A pond was born.

The Lapinkaivo is said to be bottomless. The depth has been tried to be measured without success. It is said that the elf of the lake once shouted “Go and measure the distance between Nummi and Kantti, then you will find out the depth of this pond!”. According to the story, the Russians have sunk their cannons into the mud-based pond to avoid them falling into the hands of Finns. People have also apparently been drowned there, sometimes with horse-drawn carriages, sometimes without.

The diameter of the Lapinkaivo is about 100 meters. The open water is about 50 meters wide. It is estimated to have at least five meters of water in the middle and a layer of mud at least two meters thick below it. The surface of the Lapinkaivo is 22 meters below the top of the adjacent Lapinharju ridge.

The Finnish War

The Finnish War in 1808-1809 ended 700 years of Swedish rule in Finland. From the 12th century, Finland formed the eastern part of Sweden, the Eastland, which was an important region for Sweden during its high reign. Through Finland, Sweden was also linked to Russia – these great powers of that time fought on Finnish soil several times.

The battles of the Finnish war left their mark on the mental landscape of the region. The enemy thoroughly destroyed the area’s population and population, worse than anywhere else in Finland during the war. The battles were fought in Kauhajoki and Nummijärvi, among others. The harshness of the war in the area was also influenced by the guerrilla warfare of the local population – the retreat of the Swedish army from the area forced the locals to defend their own country.

The troops moved in the area along the old road Kyrönkankaantie, through the present day National Park: first the Swedish army retreated through the area, then the Russian army moved into the area. After the Finnish War, Kyrönkankaantie calmed down into a quiet local road, and Kauhaneva got peace.

Cultural history of the wilderness

Traces of the years of great famine

The last famine in Finland and in the whole of Northern Europe was experienced in 1866 – 1868. The great famine years killed almost a tenth of the Finnish population, almost 200,000 people. Traces of famine can also be seen in the Kauhaneva-Pohjankangas National Park.

The famine had many causes, most notably the unfavorable climate phase known as the Little Ice Age, which was accompanied by strong climate variations. Although the climate phase is considered to have ended in 1850, the cold summers continued in Finland until the end of the 1860s, and three consecutive years of failure of crops were experienced from 1865 onwards. In the coldest years, the snow melted from southern Finland only in May, and the autumn frosts began as early as the beginning of September.

The famine was treated in Finland with compensated food aid. Large crowds of beggars were not given free food, but received it in exchange for work. Roads and railways were built as emergency relief work and lakes were drained. This work extended to Kauhaneva as well – a 300 meters long drainage channel was dug from Kauhalammi towards the west. The ditch can still be seen on maps today.  Another channel nearly 900 meters long was dug towards the east. 

The Great Famine years in Finland did not become an event defining national identity, though, unlike the Great Famine in Ireland (1845-1852). However, there are about a hundred monuments in Finland, one of which is on the edge of Lapinkaivo in the northern part of the national park.  

Fascinating trails and routes

The trails and routes of Kauhanevan-Pohjankangas National Park are suitable for both beginners and experienced nature walkers and cyclists.

Check out the trails and routes in Kauhaneva and Katikankanjoni on Retkikartta.fi.

Routes of Kauhaneva-Pohjankangas National Park in Nationalparks.fi 

Also check out the contents of Kauhanevan-Pohjankangas National Park in Metsähallitus’ mobile guide at Lauhanvuoriregion.fi.

Text: Pasi Talvitie

Images: Terttu Hermansson, Pasi Talvitie

Sources: Andrew G. Newby: Finland’s “Great Hunger Years” Memorials: A Sesquicentennial Report.1 (s. 184) Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies



Samuli Paulaharju, 1910 (https://www.messon.fi/kyronkankaantie/paulaharju.htm)

Geologian tutkimuskeskus, 2018 (GTK/801/03.02/2016, Lauhanvuoren Geopark-alueen turvetutkimukset -raportti)

Lauhanvuori National Park

Lauhanvuori is known as one of Finland's natural wonders. Its versatility is largely based on the special geology of the area.

Geodiversity hotspot

Lauhanvuori National Park is the most geologically diverse area in our Geopark. Its soil and bedrock show almost all of the elements of the Geopark theme From Mountains to mires:

  • the rise and fall of the ancient Svecofennian mountain range
  • remnants of lost sedimentary rock cover
  • ancient climate variations
  • diverse soil cover formed during the Ice age
  • the impact of the post-glacial uplift and the Ancylus Lake stage on the soil
  • different stages and forms of mire formation
  • the formation of lakes and ponds
  • the birth of groundwater
  • springs and their impact on the waters and nature of the area, and
  • the impact of geology on man and cultural heritage.

Of Geopark’s 52 geosites, 16 are located on Lauhanvuori. The most spectacular of these is Kivijata.

Remnants of ancient mountains

Lauhanvuori National Park covers Finland’s only sandstone remnant mountain. The sandstone layers that originated on the shores of the ancient tropical sea are a remnant of the stone cover that once covered Finland more widely, which has since been almost completely worn away, revealing the ancient bedrock so familiar to us.

The sandstone tells the story of an ancient great change. Once upon a time, a mountain range similar to the Alps rose across our country. It was later destroyed – it slowly crumbled into small grains of sand that carried with the water to the bottom of the ancient sea.


Extreme weathering left behind minerals such as quartz, which is resistant to weathering. The sandstone of Lauhanvuori consists mainly of this pale and hard mineral. However, there are coarser pieces of stone in it, including granite and clay stone. The sandstone tells us what kind of stones that ancient mountain consisted of.

The Tors at the foot of Lauhanvuori – round-shaped stones that rise from the ground like large boulders – also tell about the change in the ancient landscape. They tell of ancient warm climates in which weathering spread deep into the rock and disintegrated the bedrock. On the lower slopes of Lauhanvuori, there are large areas where the soil consists of loose weathering deposits.

Lauhanvuori is one of Finland's natural wonders

The soil tells of the ice ages

The soil of Lauhanvuori tells the story of the ice age – not only of the last ice age, but also of those before. The ice ages are known as Elster, Saale and Veiksel. They deposited several stages of different soil strata in the area. For some reason, in the vicinity of Lauhanvuori, these strata also survived, unlike in much of the rest of Finland, where the new ice age always wiped out traces of the previous one. Why?

The preservation of the soil layers of Lauhanvuori is explained by the location of the area between the active glacial flows. The area was spared the worst consumption, and therefore a large number of strata older than the last ice age have survived here. The ice age was exceptionally gentle in the area, although in practise it was immensely cold.

The reason for the gentle but cold ice age has been sought in the ground shapes, soil structure and climate of the area. Perhaps Lauhanvuori, as a high terrain, collected so much snow at the beginning of the ice age that a local glacier cap was created there, which protected the area from the Fennoscandian continental glacier that spreads there from the northwest. On the northwest side of the area, the ground also rises reasonably sharply from the coastal lowlands – it has been easier for ice to flow from the east and west sides of the area.


Nature in Lauhanvuori is special

The soil of the area has a trait from the last ice age that has a strong impact on its nature. The soil has been heavily washed away when Lauhanvuori was a lonely island in post-glacial Ancylus sea.

The waves milled the moraine landscapes of the higher grounds of the area to a thickness of several meters and washed the fines out of the till. Sand and gravel remained. Therefore, the area has extensive groundwater accumulation areas, springs, sandy pine forested heathlands and also bogs. The nature enriched by groundwater is one of the most significant specialties of the area. Lauhanvuori has been titled as one of Finland’s natural wonders.

On Lauhanvuori, groundwater feeds and maintains a wide variety of environments. Springs and streams, groundwater-influenced bogs and seasonal wetlands are the habitats in which groundwater plays a major role. The interaction between surface waters and groundwater is exceptionally strong, especially in seasonal wetlands, which are lakes in the spring but turn into grasslands over the course of summer as water seeps into the soil.

The impact of the washed-out soil on nature is most pronounced near the top of Lauhanvuori, where the soil above the highest shore is completely different. The original till covered land can be found mainly in the summit of Lauhanvuori, where vegetation is greener than the rugged slopes.

The rugged slopes, mosaics of pine covered heathland and bogs are also suitable for the area’s newest newcomer, the finnish forest reindeer, which is actually a returnee. The species was removed from the area a hundred years ago and is now returning to the area’s nature with the Metsäpeura-LIFE project. One of the project’s forest reindeer fences is located on Lauhanvuori.

Cultural heritage of forest, stones, Midsummer dances and potato

The cultural heritage of Lauhanvuori is the cultural heritage of the wilderness. For a long time, the rugged hinterland was mainly a wilderness for the inhabitants of nearby areas – a destination for hunting trips and a place to get needed wood. Tar was burned on Lauhanvuori and there were logging sites, old tar pits and the ruins of old logging huts tell about this era. In the end of the 19th century, the millstone industry flourished on Lauhanvuori, the traces of which can still be seen.

As a remote area of ​​land, the area has long been in the possession of the State. Forest fires were a regular nuisance in the area, and firebreaks were cleared in the early part of the last century to prevent the spread of fire to the area. At the same time, the first observations were made of the special soil of the area. Today, those firebreaks are part of the area’s hiking trail network.


Long ago, fires were guarded from Lauhanvuori. The fire guard was assisted by a tower, from where one could detect possible forest fires from a very large area. From the top of Lauhanvuori there is a view that covers roughly the entire Geopark area.

The summit of Lauhanvuori has also been one of the midsummer celebrations in the area. The bright night of midsummer seemed especially bright on a hill high and almost barren.

Lauhanvuori was once of great importance for potato growing in the area. The Isojoki – Lappväärtinjoki River Valley is today one of the most important concentrations of Finnish potato growing, but frost in river valleys cannot always be avoided. On the mild top of Lauhanvuori, there was rarely any summer frost. Seed potatoes in particular have long been cultivated on the moraine lands of the summit. Lauhanvuori was the gene bank and safe for potato growers in the area, from which seed potatoes were obtained even after the cold years. Metsähallitus still cultivates a small potato field on Lauhanvuori today.

A pocket-sized wilderness

Trails of Lauhanvuori

Lauhanvuori’s versatile routes are suitable for both beginners and experienced hikers.

Check out the Lauhanvuori routes in Retkikartta.fi.

Lauhanvuori trails in Nationalparks.fi.

Also check out the contents about Lauhanvuori in Metsähallitus’ mobile guide at Lauhanvuoriregion.fi.