For more than a thousand years, people have come to Kimitoön, seeking fortune, knowledge, and inspiration. From Vikings and industrialists to teachers and publishers, their stories have created a rich history that is still celebrated today. Journey to these four historic sites to discover Kimitoön’s fascinating past.
Rosala Viking Centre
Curious about the archipelago’s Viking connection? Make a beeline for the Rosala Viking Centre, where you’ll find a faithfully reconstructed Viking village. It was inspired by archaeological excavations carried out in the area, which unearthed coins, bronze, blades, and even pieces of jewellery that were once used by Vikings. The findings were ground-breaking and proof positive that Vikings had not only sailed through the strait between Hitis and Rosala, but that it was a bustling harbour and marketplace some 1,000 years ago. At the Rosala Viking Centre, you can learn more about this incredible story as well as embrace your inner Viking. As you wander about the village, you can feast in the chieftain’s hall, marvel at the field labyrinth, and admire the wooden ships. Keep an eye out for special events throughout the year like the Viking Market and Viking Games, where you can pick up some handicrafts and even try your hand at axe throwing.
Dalsbruk Village Walk
Fast forward several centuries and head to Dalsbruk to explore Kimitoön’s industrial past. The Finnish Heritage Agency has declared this area a nationally significant cultural heritage site and it’s little wonder why. From the late 1600s until 2012, Dalsbruk was home to one of the largest ironworks in the country. It is a history that still echoes through the village, and it’s best experienced on this self-guided walk. As you stroll along the 3.5-kilometre route, you’ll come across the original blast furnace site, find yourself in ‘Siberia’, and see traditional charcoal kilns that once served the flourishing iron industry. Be sure to time your visit with the bi-weekly market; it was founded in the 1850s and it was here factory workers spent their hard-earned money. Even now, it’s a popular place to shop for locals and tourists alike.
If you’ve got a budding historian in your family, make a stop at Sagalund Museum. It was founded in 1900 and it’s one of the oldest and largest open-air museums in Finland. Here, you’ll find a collection of 26 captivating buildings from right around Kimitoön. Each has its own story to tell; there’s an 18th century courthouse, a 17th century schoolhouse, and a farmhouse, where every room has been furnished in the style of a different decade. The museum’s founder, Nils Oskar Jansson, also created a treasured garden, which continues to grow every year. Jansson was a Swedish-speaking teacher, so it’s no surprise that Sagalund Museum is the perfect place for children. There are plenty of places to play, activities to try, and programs to join, all in the name of learning.
For any history fanatic, the gorgeous Söderlångvik Manor is a must. Its story stretches back 500 years, but its most famous owner only bought the property in 1927. His name was Amos Anderson, and he used Söderlångvik Manor as a summer retreat, converting the farmhouse into the Italian-style villa that still stands today. Anderson was a businessman, publisher, and politician, but he is most celebrated for his unwavering support of the cultural sector. He loved theatre, music, and art, and collected some 400 artworks over his lifetime. Visit Söderlångvik Manor to see a selection of these works and learn more about Anderson himself. Don’t forget to wander through the elegant gardens, and try some produce made from the 50,000 apple trees growing on the estate.