Saltvik Church is the center of the local parish in Kvarnbo in Saltvik Municipality. The church is dedicated to Saint Mary, the mother of Jesus. The building is in red granite, the material that is so typical for the Åland Islands.
The construction of the church began at the end of the 13th century. However, the building was far from complete and several additions were made during the second half of the 14th century. For instance, the church tower was not erected until 1381. Nobody knows what happened to the wooden church that used to be here.
The church has undergone several reconstructions during the centuries. It is today a part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland.
The interior has wall paintings from the 15th century, even though most of these were painted over after the reformation. Other historical items include a winged altarpiece from the Middle Ages and a baptismal font from the 13th century originating on the island of Gotland.
Saltvik Church is in Kvarnbo, an area that is one of the richest on the Åland Islands when it comes to ancient remains. The church is not only surrounded by the current local graveyard. There are also grave fields from the past all around it and even in the ground under the present church. One of these is Johannisberg, the largest Iron Age grave field on the Åland Islands. The remains tell us about life here from the Iron Age, the Viking Age, and through the Medieval period. In fact, archaeologists believe that the place used to be an important market place. In other words, the spot was an important settlement even before the construction of its first church.
Modern-day visitors can enjoy the nearby beach. Also, in the summer there’s a Viking Market in the village that attracts plenty of guests from near and far. Another interesting sight in Saltvik is Orrdalsklint, the highest point in the Åland Islands. At a whooping 129 metres above sea level. visitors can spend the day here hiking or admiring the spectacular views over the Baltic Sea.
Finding Your Way to Saltvik Chruch
Saltvik Church is in the village of Kvarnbo in Saltvik Municipality. This is in the northern part of the Åland Islands and close to road 2 from Mariehamn to Prästö. From Mariehamn, you need to turn left onto the smaller road 50 (or Kvarnbovägen) at Haraldsby. The church will be visible after a short drive.
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