Ruokolahti is a municipality in the South-East of Finland on lake Saimaa.
Welcome to discover Ruokolahti and its church hill, one of the most beautiful in Finland.
ORIGIN OF THE PARISH
The parish of Ruokolahti was founded in 1572. It has existed on the Fenno-Russian border for for centuries. As the first chuch was build on a creek growing reed, the new parish was called Ruokolax – Ruokolahti (Ruoko=reed).
The first, second and the third churches were situated in the same place near the old bell tower belonging to the third church.
The present church was designed by Ernst Lohrmann and was built in 1854. Partly neogothic in style, the church seats about 1200 people. The church was restored in the 1960 s and the central heating was installed there then.
During centuries the parishioners of a higher rank donated objects such as paintings, chandeliers, chalices and textiles for the decoration of the church and to be used there the church services.
These objects are to be found in the church and in the church section of the parish museum. The brazen chandelier is supposedly the oldest object in the church. It was donated by Staphan Sikiö, the owner of a cavalry estate, in praize of God, having finally been released from prison in Russia after the war.
Near the church entrance on the right hand side there is a painting by Peter Langh from 1747. It is called the “Lord´s Supper”.
In the church entrance there is a copy of the painting by de Volterra, which “Jesus Christ being taken down from the cross”. The original painting is in a church in Rome.
The present organ has a 30-pipe register and was bought in 1986. It was designed by director musicae Asko Rautionaho and built by Hans Heinrich. The model for the organ was taken from the 18th century organs in the Northern parts of Germany. Part of the old organ can seen in the parish museum.
The altarpiece is a painting by Aleksandra Frosterus-Såltin from 1915, and it depicts “Christ on the cross”. The artist painted about fifty altarpieces and this one is the last of them.
The fense of the church yard repeats the motif of the church windows.
The old cemetery surrounded the three former churches and dead people have been buried there for over 400 years.
When a stone wall was built around the cemetery the parishioners had to bring stones there according to their taxes.
The bell tower is one of the oldest buildings in Ruokolahti. It is considered one the most important sights in Ruokolahti and its church hill. It was built by a Ruokolahti carpenter named Tuomas Ragvaldinpoika Suikkanen, who completed in 1752. It was Suikkanen´s first ecclesiastical building.
It has been said that the bell tower is the jewel of Finnish ecclesiastical architecture. Its shingle roof dates from 1915.
MEMORIAL AND TOMBS
The memorial of the former churches behind the bell tower
THE PARISH MUSEUM
The museum of regional tradition was founded in 1955 in a public granary built in 1961. There are about 3000 objects in the three-story building.
On the ground floor there are the church museum, the Edelfelt room and room with a collection of old money. On the first floor there is household equipment and a room of liberty telling about Finnish Independence. On the second floor there are objects from the period of the livelihoods of the countryside practised in the past.
The church museum includes objects from the former churches.
The Ruokolahti-Society is the municipal society of Ruokolahti. It was founded in 1947 to preserve the regional tradition and to record its cultural heritage and to incite interest in the past and in the special characteristics of the area. Important activities include the maintenance of the parish museum and the Ruokolahti House.
The Ruokolahti House is a museum of the regional tradition built in 1980 to the measurements of a country farm house built in 1944 and owned by the Society.
During the summertime it has become a nice place of recreation for travellers with its refreshments.
The house is a popular place for small parties, conferences and exhibitions.