Hailuoto Church – Hailuoto, Finland - Atlas Obscura

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Hailuoto Church

Hailuoto, Finland

This modernist island church incorporates the Finnish nature into its worship practices. 


Finnish culture is known for a lot of excellent things—saunas, beer, heavy metal—but few more important than its love of and integration with nature. On the island of Hailuoto, this part of the culture is on full display.

Completed in 1620, the original Hailuoto church held services for the small island population, primarily comprised of fishermen and farmers. That wooden church stood amidst the forests for over 300 years.

Then in 1968, a fire ravaged the building, burning what was at that time the oldest wooden church in the country. While parts of the original structure were salvaged, the island needed a new place of worship. It got one in 1972, the first concrete and glass church of the Nordics. Items from the original church are on display inside, and none more prominent than the original frescoed wooden pulpit.

From the pews, visitors are entrenched in the forests stretching out beyond the windows for the entirety of the church’s height. The surrounding nature is pulled into the church as an equal part of worship, a part Hailuoto strives to preserve for generations to come.

After the service, visitors can walk through the forest cemetery behind the modern, concrete angles of the church. It’s beautiful and tranquil, standing in the middle of the Finnish forest. Here, you will enjoy perhaps the greatest element of Finnish culture: silence.

Know Before You Go

Hailuoto can be accessed by ferry from Oulu.

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April 29, 2019

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