Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Laukaa: Old church yard at Kirkkoniemi

A surprise is waiting for me at the outskirts of the quiet Tarvaala village in Laukaa, Central Finland. The reason I came here was simply the symbol of a 'cultural sight' on the outdoor map of the area. I find myself facing a gate to an old church yard. This is where the first church of Laukaa parish, founded in 1593, was built in the late 16th century, at Kirkkoniemi (Church Cape).

The wooden church of Hartikka by lake Kuusvesi is long gone. The church served the parishioners for less than 100 years before the second church of the Laukaa parish was built at Pellosniemi, close to where the centre of Laukaa is today.
There is hardly anything left of the church itself. The few pieces of the logs of the original building remain stored in the locked shed at the church yard, and on the ground you can only see some rocks that mark the foundations of the church. Today, this place feels very remote but in its day the area must have been busier, and the location by the lake meant that it was possible to come there by boat.
The wooden cross and altar are a newer addition to the church yard. According to the signpost, a couple of services are held out here in the open every year.
The wooden bell tower houses a small church bell. The bell tower was built here in 1993 to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Laukaa parish and the money for it was raised by the local Martha club at Tarvaala village.
There's not only a church yard at Kirkkoniemi. I continue walking along the private road toward the end of the cape, past a beautiful well-kept wooden house with a porch that has coloured glass panes. The next sign tells me that I'm entering a state-owned forest managed by Metsähallitus. As I cross a narrow wooden bridge I begin to wonder whether Kirkkoniemi cape is actually an island....

There are plenty of old pine trees at Kirkkoniemi forest but some harvesting is still allowed in the area. I hope there isn't too much felling done here though. The needle-covered path is in very good shape and so much nicer to tread on than asphalt.
The water level of Lake Kuusvesi, just like of  other lakes in Central Finland right now, has risen pretty high, covering the roots of the trees that grow closest to the shore.
At the very end of the Kirkkoniemi cape, Lake Kuusvesi opens to the north. The water looks chilly now that there's hardly any green in sight, but of course that will change in the next few weeks! The log shelter provides a nice place for making a fire on a day trip or even spending a night here by the lake - for example, if you are paddling from Konnevesi to Laukaa. I've actually been thinking about kayaking along this route so now I already know one good place to stop for a night...


  1. I very much enjoy the history aspect of these types walks - to walk (be) were a 16th century structure was - my mind would wonder and try to imagine what it was like there in the that time.

    The log shelter and kayak sound good too.

  2. It is so hard to imagine what life was like those days when the church was built. There weren't too many roads then, and waterways were so important. Right now this place is very quiet, and seeing there are only few houses in its vicinity, it really amazes me that the church was built right there.

    So happy nobody built their house on the old church yard... I really hope to visit the place again on kayak.