History, Drama and Idyll of the Archipelago
Taivassalo has not actually been founded like many other places – it has always existed. In early times, the Vikings were sailing the nearby waters of Taivassalo, but the year when Taivassalo is considered to have come into being is 1155. This was the year when Saint Henry, Bishop of Finland, baptized people by the spring of Viiainen Manor during the First Swedish Crusade. The entire history of Finland originates from Taivassalo.
History and Tales, Feeling of Real Life
When in Taivassalo, you will hear fascinating tales about seafaring and the tough life at the islets of the archipelago. The stories about building ships and the great amounts of fish caught as well as the tales about powerful noble families, love and war will take you back to the olden days. Even the geographical names have tales to tell about the region’s history.
When Finland was still a part of Sweden, Taivassalo was the administrative capital of thousands of islands. Helsinki Village in Taivassalo was situated by the Great Mail Route, which had been created on the order of Queen Christina. The route was used to deliver the mail between Stockholm and Turku for nearly 300 years. Swedish settlers had come to Helsinki from the west, across the sea, from a place called Hälsingland.
Helsinki Village was also known by the name of Pimiäkulma, “Dark Corner.” According to a tale, the name originates from the fact that Helsinki village was the last place in the area to have electricity installed. Another explanation for the name is that during prohibition, bottles of alcohol were sold illegally in Helsinki Village. These bottles were referred to in Finnish as “dark bottles.”
Kyyneltenkallio, the “Rock of Tears”, is a reminder of a family tragedy. Two cousins, a daughter from a wealthy farm and a boy from next door, married secretly and had a child. The child’s fate was to be thrown into boiling water. The parents were executed. An entirely different atmosphere can be experienced by climbing to Seitsemäs taivas, “Seventh Heaven.” It is not known why the cliff was given this name, but it is an official name.
Visitors will be greeted by the old manor atmosphere and intrigued by the vast collection of museum pieces – over 8000 objects – in Viiainen Manor. In addition, the manor which functions as Taivassalo Museum offers changing art and theme exhibitions. The museum is open during the summer and at other times on request for groups.
Breathtakingly Beautiful Church
Taivassalo Church is the oldest of the three medieval stone churches in Finland that are dedicated to the Holy Cross. The construction of the church is believed to have begun between the years 1425 to 1440. In 1460s, the third aisle was built and the inner walls were decorated with new murals. It was the first time in Finland that frescos were painted to nearly all important surfaces of a church by a group of professional artists.
The medieval altarpiece as well as wooden sculptures of Taivassalo Church were donated to The National Museum of Finland in 1890. However, Taivassalo Church still has a magnificent triumph crucifix above the altar, in front of the chancel window. This crucifix is one of the oldest and best preserved crucifixes in Finland. The rococo front of the organ, which is unusual by Finnish standards, has remained intact ever since 1767 although the organ has been replaced several times.
As a whole, the church with its murals looks much the same as it would have looked at the end of the Middle Ages.
Sea, Islands and Fishing
Situated in the archipelago, Taivassalo originally consisted of over 3550 islands and islets. Nowadays Taivassalo is composed of 181 islands and it still has 304 kilometres of seashore! Tuulvesi is one of the most beautiful sea areas in Taivassalo and in the middle of it rises Kaitainen Bridge, which in itself is a sight worth seeing. The bridge is nearly 500 metres long and its clearance is 13.5 metres. “Because of the sea and on the edge of it, has Taivassalo arisen. Life’s grand in Taivassalo, the sea ha swum right up to our doorstep and it’ll take you all the way to America, should you so wish,” say the people of Taivassalo.
Taivassalo is the most important commercial fishing area in the Province of Southwest Finland. Taivassalo has the highest number of fishers, as well as fyke nets, in the whole Finnish Archipelago. Millions of kilos of Baltic herring are caught by using fyke nets alone. In the first weekend of July, Taivassalo is the venue for Silakrysäys, the Baltic Herring Carnival, which is the biggest countryside fair of Southwest Finland.
From Hakkenpää Marina.