The Petajavesi Old Church is one of the most interesting churches in all of Finland. It is found in the small municipality of Petajavesi, which is just a 1.5 hour drive north of Tampere. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Petajavesi Church is a fine example of a traditional Lutheran church, and it is built in a style that is endemic to the eastern reaches of Scandinavia. No other Finnish Lutheran church is as renowned as Petajavesi Church, and this is mostly due to the quality of its wooden architecture. Mostly bare wood dominates the design both inside and out, and some of the boards are painted in a red hue, providing some attractive accents. There aren’t many other UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Finland, which is why this Finnish Lutheran church sees so many visitors.
The Petajavesi Old Church was built between 1763 and 1765, and it was designed by Jaako Klementinpoika Leppanen, who was a master carpenter. The original structure lacked a bell tower, so Leppanen’s grandson Erkki added one in 1821. Architectural buffs will quickly notice that the Petajavesi Church exhibits both a Renaissance and a Gothic design, the inner vaults certainly indicative of the Gothic style. When you enter this exquisite Lutheran Church in Finland, the amount of wood used to construct it immediately impresses. The ceiling is of particular interest, and it rises to form a steep dome over the crossing point of the church’s two main naves. The angular design of the domed roof is striking indeed, and concealing the seams between the wooden planks are red stripes that were painted on. It is believed that the ceiling was finished by 1764, since there are indicative marks left behind from the original carpenters. Pine planks of a reddish hue are widely integrated in the Petajavesi Church ceiling as well.
In addition to admiring the ceiling when inside the Petajavesi Old Church, you can also take some time out to admire the paintings on the wall of the altar. Martin Luther, who is a Lutheran figure without compare, is depicted in the paintings, as is Moses. These paintings are younger than the church itself, having been added in 1843. When standing outside the Petajavesi Lutheran Church in Finland, the stacked roof continues to impress. While circling the outside of the church, you will find the structure’s main door on its southern side. The door features its original paneling, although the paneling has been reversed to help preserve it from the elements.
Visiting the Petajavesi Church is just one idea for interesting things to do in Finland, and there are plenty of other Finnish cathedrals and churches that might interest you as well if you enjoy such historic structures. The main Helsinki Cathedral is one of the most impressive in the country, for starters, and there are plenty of other Helsinki churches that might find their way onto your Finland vacation itinerary as well. The Old Church in Helsinki, which was built in the 1820s, was designed by famed architect, Carl Engel, and it deserves a look if you have the time. Also, just west of the city of Turku, you’ll find just one more intriguing religious structure that can draw in the tourists like the Petajavesi Finnish Lutheran Church. In the town of Naantali, the Naantalin Kirkko church is among the oldest landmarks in the country. It dominates the skyline of Naantali, rising beautifully above the trees and the Baltic Sea.