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.