Peek into history on islands right next to the city
Start exploring the Arctic Seaside from Oulu, and you’ll find there’s an island full of history right next to the market square. On the island of Pikisaari you’ll be able peek into the lives of present-day artisans and past seafarers, co-existing in a charming old environment with red-brick and log houses. Colourful fishing boats line up on the shore, and are still in use by local fishermen.
For thousands of years, the river Oulujoki has been an important trade and transport route and the most well-known route for transporting tar in Finland and Europe. Just a few kilometres upstream from Oulu, another island has preserved a lot of local history. Accessible by car, bike or longboat – if you don’t mind rowing – Turkansaari welcomes you with a museum and various displays of how life used to be around here: burning tar in pits, rearing livestock and generally making ends meet.
Ever wondered why local, flat rye bread has a hole in the middle?
Curious communities that were and still are
The Varjakka island just a little south of Oulu is an eerie place. What used to be a busy sawmill community is now a deserted island with only the amazing wooden buildings reminiscent of a golden age a hundred years ago. What made people disappear and leave behind a whole village with a cinema, a bakery and the mill? Find out – if you’re ready to operate the manual ferry boat!
The biggest island in the Bothnian sea, Hailuoto, is a lively community with proud people. Things here are small and local – just the way the islanders like it. Also accessible by ferry, there’s something special about visiting Hailuoto. The island has a timetable and a scale of its own. Nowadays, the smallest municipality in Northern Ostrobothnia with less than 1000 inhabitants, the island has has a bloody history where hailuotoans almost became extinct. The entire island is classified as one of Finland’s nationally significant built cultural environments and national landscapes.
It’s not just the destination, but the journey as well.
Archives of the archipelago
Travel down south along the seashore and make a stop in Raahe. Now small and quaint, Raahe used to be the largest harbour town in Finland. The lightless lighthouses – daymarks – still stand in the archipelago.
The old town is among the country’s best-preserved 19th century wooden towns. In the local museum, say hi to the world’s oldest surviving diving suit that has scared school children for decades. Or have a nice cup of coffee served by personnel in 19th century outfits in an old trade house turned into a cafe.
Venture further south and even deeper into the secrets of Arctic archipelago in Kalajoki, where two little islands some 18 kilometres off the coast are still governed by fishermen. Maakalla and Ulkokalla form the Kallankari fishing community. Like the rest of the seashore, the the islets emerged as a result of land uplift centuries ago, and fishermen and seal hunters made their home there. Their self-government, granted by the King of Sweden in 1771, still stands today.
Admire old wooden fishermen’s huts and a wooden church from the 18th century. For lunch, buy freshly smoked whitefish, a well-known delicacy throughout the Arctic Seaside, caught by the locals.
Slowly but surely, the land still rises from the sea.