Finland has total of 7 UNESCO’s World Heritage locations, each representing Finland in its own personal and unique way:

  1. Fortress of Suomenlinna
  2. Old Rauma
  3. Petäjävesi Old Church
  4. Verla Groundwood and Board Mill
  5. Bronze Age Burial Site of Sammallahdenmäki
  6. Struve Geodetic Arc
  7. Kvarken Archipelago / High Coast
UNESCO sites in Finland
UNESCO World Heritage sites in Finland

Part of UNESCO’s mission is to encourage and ensure protection of natural and cultural heritage. And preserving history and our culture has long roots. In a way, it all started in the United States, when Yellowstone was founded in 1872 as the first National Park. In the 1920s International Institute for Intellectual Cooperation was founded to support free sharing of culture, education and scientific achievements between nations. Second World War interrupted the work, and after the war, UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) was founded in 1945 (UNESCO replacing IIIC, International Institute of Intellectual Cooperation).

Both, Fortress of Suomenlinna and Old Rauma were the first ones in Finland to be added to UNESCO’s list in 1991. Both locations are celebrating their 30th anniversary this year.

  1. Fortress of Suomenlinna

The Fortress of Suomenlinna is a unique example of the European military architecture of the 18th century. It includes total of 6 islands and it consists several buildings that were in military use, as well as private houses. Suomenlinna is well known tourist attraction at the entrance of Helsinki’s harbor and many locals visit the island as well, especially during the summer time.

Fortress of Suomenlinna (Finland)
Fortress of Suomenlinna (Finland). Image source: UNESCO, © Suomen Ilmankuva Oy

 

  1. Old Rauma

Rauma is situated on the Gulf of Bothnia and the city has one of the oldest harbors in Finland. Old Rauma is one of the biggest examples of old Nordic style city constructed in wood in North Europe. It dates back to 17th and 19th centuries and it is one of the best preserved and most expansive old towns, including the entirety of street networks, buildings, courtyards, fences as well as the traditional street pavements. Old Rauma is a historic sight and proof of traditional settlement in Northern Europe.

  1. Petäjävesi Old Church

The Petäjävesi Old Church was built between 1763–1765 (entirely of pine wood) and it is a Lutheran Country Church. It became a world heritage site in 1994 representing traditional architecture of wooden churches: the style, external form, and log construction. The church hasn’t been in full time use since 1879 when a new church was built in the area. However, the old church was conserved in the 1920s and it is now open during the summer months for visitors. The fenced graveyard surrounding the church is still in use.

 

  1. Verla Groundwood and Board Mill

Verla Groundwood and Board Mill was added to the world heritage list in 1996. It is one of the only examples of small-scale rural industry settlements, which has preserved this well. The mill was founded in 1872 manufacturing pulp, paper and board. The industry flourished in the 19th and 20th centuries in North Europe as well as in North America. Verla ceased to operate in 1964. All the machinery was left in place after the mill was shut down and later conserved, which adds to the authenticity of the site. Verla represents forest industry settlements; built in the middle of forest zone with close access to water as the energy source.

 

  1. Bronze Age Burial Site of Sammallahdenmäki

If you plan to visit Old Rauma, you can visit Sammallahdenmäki as well. This Bronze age burial site is located near Rauma and it was added to UNESCO’s list in 1999 as the first archeological site in Finland. It is the largest, most varied, and complete burial site from the Scandinavian Bronze age: 1500-500 B.C. Stone burial cairns were typical for Western Bronze Age culture and this site witnesses that there was social, as well as religious structures in place in North Europe over three millennia ago.

Bronze Age Burial Site of Sammallahdenmäki
Bronze Age Burial Site of Sammallahdenmäki. Image source: UNESCO, Public Domain, Roquai

 

  1. Struve Geodetic Arc

Struve Geodetic Arc is example of technological ensemble and it represent scientific collaboration among scientist from different countries as well as monarchs, all for the common scientific cause. It is a chain of survey triangulations in 34 different measuring points in 10 different countries: 6 of them being in Finland. F.G.W. Struve was leading the project, which started in 1816 and concluded in 1855. The project helped to establish the exact size and shape of Earth and also, played an important role in expansion of Earth sciences and topographic mapping.

 

  1. Kvarken Archipelago & High Coast

Kvarken Archipelago (Merenkurkku) in Finland’s side and High Coast in Sweden’s side form together this unusual, ever changing world heritage site. The Archipelago consists 5,600 islands, and moraines formed 10,000 to 24,000 years ago by melting of the continental ice sheet. Kvarken is shallow, has thousands of low-lying islands, moraine ridges and gigantic boulder fields. The High Coast is on the opposite side of the Archipelago and it is a complete opposite indeed. The High Coast has high islands, steep shores and smooth cliffs. The area has been through multiple Ice Ages and the landscape keeps on changing. New islands pop up, landmasses unite and peninsulas expand. The High Coat and the Kvarken Archipelago signify corresponding illustrations of post-glacial uplifting landscapes.

Merenkurkku
Grey seal – Finland. Image source: UNESCO, © Metsähallitus, Timo Hissa

And if you cannot travel to Finland right now to see our World Heritage sites, you can visit Everglades National Park here in Florida. It has been on UNESCO’s list since 1979.