Kerimäki, Exploring Finland

Kerimäki – Exploring Finland

Kerimäki is a locality and the seat of the local municipality in the province of Etelä-Savo in south-eastern Finland. The locality itself is also known as Kerimäen Kirkonkylä, or the Kerimäki Church Village, but also by its much older name Jouhenniemi. Finnish is the main language in the area with over 98% of the inhabitants claiming it as their first language. This is a small village with a few shops and services around its central square. It is, however, the church that is its main attraction. It claims to be the largest wooden church in the world and it is really watching out over the village.

A Short History of Kerimäki

Kerimäki was earlier known as Jouhenniemi and was a small village. The parish itself also had another name earlier as it was known as Haapala. The parish church was originally located in the village of Kallunmäki and was built in 1644. Well, that was the first of four churches in Kallunmäki. The first three burned down and the fourth eventually became too small. Construction began in 1845 on what would become the world’s largest wooden church. It was built in the nearby village of Jouheniemi and the old church in Kallunmäki was demolished in the 1850s.

The new Kerimäki Church in Jouheniemi was completed in 1847 and meant that the seat of the parish moved to a new location. This also resulted in that the name of the village changed to Kerimäki.

Things to Do and See

It is the large yellow church that is the main attraction, but if you do look around you will find a lot more. There are a few small shopping opportunities, but if you look bit further you will find Lake Puruvesi and the nature in its vicinity.

Kerimäki Church

The large yellow wooden church here opened its doors in 1847 and is supposedly it is the largest wooden church in the world. This yellow giant can house up to 5.000 people, out of which around 3.200 can be seated. It is today part of the Kerimäki Congregation within the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland.

There are, however, two wooden churches in the world that are taller than the one in Kerimäki. These are the St. George Cathedral in Guyana with 43.5 meters and the Ascension Cathedral in Kazakhstan with 56 meters. The church here in Kerimäki only reaches a height of 37 meters.

Lake Puruvesi

Puruvesi is a part of the much larger Lake Saimaa. Lake Saimaa is the largest lake in Finland and the fourth largest in Europe after the lakes Ladoga (Russia), Onega (Russia), and Vänern (Sweden). The lake is at the center of an area in Finland that is known as the Finnish Lakeland. Kerimäki is liesat the shores of Laek Puruvesi providing water access to a large part of Finland by the lake and its many canals and other access points.

There is also the Kirkkorannan Uimaranta, in English Kirkkoranta Beach, that is the local beach next to the marina. This is one of several spots along the shores of the lake that is offering a possibility for swimming.

Kerimäki Local Heritage Museum

Known by its Finnish name, Kerimäen Kotiseutumuseo, this is the local heritage museum. It was founded in 1966 and can be considered an open-air museum as you walk between the historical buildings. The buildings have been moved here from other parts of the region to create a historical atmosphere and to preserve the local heritage.

How to Get to Kerimäki

  • Flights: Joensuu Airport (JOE) is 107 kilometers to the north.
  • Car: Kerimäki is along Road 71 east of Savonlinna.
  • Train: Trains between Parikkala and Savonlinna stop at Kerimäki Railway Station which is 14 kilometers to the west.

The driving distance from 5 major Finnish cities, according to Google Maps:

  • Helsinki – 355 kilometers (4 h 7 min)
  • Turku – 490 kilometers (5 h 32 min)
  • Vaasa – 497 kilometers (6 h 7 min)
  • Oulu – 467 kilometers (5 h 36 min)
  • Joensuu – 119 kilometers (1 h 25 min)

Looking to Explore more of Finland and Europe?

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