Guided Tours at Särkilahti’s Wooden Church

The old church was built to the Tornio River Valley in the 1400s. Later, a flood brought down the church. A new church was built and officially opened in 2018. Get to know the church here.

Only a few towns in Sweden have as interesting a history as the Särkilahti church. The old church was built to the Tornio River Valley presumably in the latter half of the 1400s. At the time, it was the second northernmost sacred site for Christians. It is known that the church stood tall by 1482 at a site a few kilometers north of Matareng (Övertorneå).

The winter of 1617 was very rich in snow. The warm spring arrived late, and it has been characterized as “unusually hot”. As a result, snow melted away quickly, and the ice cover on River Tornio left with exceptional haste. The moving ice mass and rising water levels were catastrophic for the people living in the central areas of the River Tornio Valley. The flood also took down the old church, which fell apart on the shores downriver. Generation after generation have been wondering where the church stood exactly, what it looked like, whether it had any towers, and if old parts or logs could still be found.

The 400th anniversary of the great flood is cause for action.

We wanted to provide not only a story but also the facts of what the event was like. We have studied several wooden churches from the Middle Ages and how they were built in northern Sweden and Finland. In 2017, our association published a book by Petter Antti, called Särkilax och kyrkan som försvann. The book was translated and published in Finnish under the name Särkilahti ja kirkko, joka hävisi. Our association’s greatest endeavor was to build a replica of the church. The church was finished and officially opened in 2018. It stands close to the approximated original site. It was built using hand-planed timber, and it was modeled after how wooden churches were built in the North in later parts of the Middle Ages.

Individual visitors and groups can take part in guided tours at the Särkilahti church. The guide talks about the history of the old church and its replica, as well as traditional wood building habits. The church is decorated with art and icons donated by Monika Pohjanen, Heikki Salmi, Jussi Taipaleenmäki, and Cardinal Anders Arborelius.

Duration: Approx. 1 hour (depending on group size, interest, and questions)

Languages: English, Swedish, Meänkieli, and Finnish

Ask local tourism service providers for pricing information.

There is enough parking space for a bus. A dry toilet is currently under construction.