Prehistoric and archaeological sites in Finland

Porvoo Hill Fort

There are two ancient hill forts in Porvoo, so-called small and big one. There is burial ground in a small hill from the Roman Iron Age (0-400 AD). The items found in excavations reveal that Porvoo river has been a remarkable trading centre already in prehistoric times and local people has had connections to Estonia and Latvia. The bigger hill fort is one of the largest in Finland. It was used for defensive purposes alre ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Porvoo, Finland

Vartiokylä Hill Fort

Vartiokylä hill fort is one of the most prominent historic sites from the age before Helsinki city was established. The fortification dates from the 13th and 14th centuries and it has been in use only for a short period. It is unknown who built it but probably the hill was fortified by Swedish-speaking settlers, crown or some local noble (like Bo Jonsson Grip). During the first World War Russians built trenches to Varti ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Helsinki, Finland

Sammallahdenmäki

Sammallahdenmäki is a Bronze age burial site including 36 granite burial cairns dating back more than 3000 years, from 1500 to 500 BC. Sammallahdenmäki is an exceptionally valuable example of Finland’s Bronze Age culture because it presents the ancient monuments in a well-preserved natural milieu. It’s designated as the UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999.Two of the most spectacular cairns are the qua ...
Founded: 1500 - 500 B.C. | Location: Rauma, Finland

Ukonkivi

Ukonkivi is a small island in the Inarijärvi lake. It has been a well-known sacrifice place ("seita") for the Samish people for centuries. There are several caves where local people used to bring gifts to Ukko, the god of thunder. Archaeologists have found remains of the reindeer bones, jewelleries and money from the island.You can reach the Ukonkivi island by water bus from Inari in summer season.
Founded: | Location: Inari, Finland

Värikallio Rock Paintings

The Hossa Värikallio rock paintings are amongst the largest prehistoric rock paintings in Finland. The pictures on the rock wall rising from Lake Somerjärvi were painted in the Stone Age, i.e. about 3,500 - 4,500 years ago.Paintings were painted from a boat or when standing on the ice of the lake. On the surface of the rock wall there are 61 separate figures depicting scenes of hunting and shamanic rituals. The ...
Founded: 3000-100 B.C | Location: Suomussalmi, Finland

Susiluola (Wolf Cave)

Susiluola (Wolf Cave) is a crack in the Pyhävuori mountain. The upper part of the crack has been packed with soil, forming a cave. In 1996, some objects were found in the cave that brought about speculations that it could have been inhabited in the Paleolithic, 120,000 to 130,000 years ago. These objects, if authentic, would be the only known Neanderthal artifacts in the Nordic countries. However, there is disagreeme ...
Founded: 120,000-130,000 B.C. | Location: Kristiinankaupunki, Finland

Stone Age Ruin of Kastelli

So-called Jätinkirkko (“the giant’s church”) of Kastelli is a rectangular stone rampart measuring 36 x 62 meters. It dates back to the Stone Age and is one of the most significant ancient structures in Finland. The fort was probably built between 2700-2200 B.C like most of the stone constructions in northern Botnia.The structure is located at top of the hill. The rampart, which is two meters high in ...
Founded: 2700-2200 B.C. | Location: Raahe, Finland

Rikalanmäki

Rikalanmäki was one of the most remarkable Bronze and Iron Age towns in Finland. According legends, It was a very wealthy trading centre. The heyday of Rikalanmäki was in 11th and 12th centuries when Vikings and foreign merchants exchanged metals and weapons to fur from inner Finland. There are evidences of indirect trade connections even to the Arabic countries. According the legend Birger Jarl landed to the Ri ...
Founded: ca. 900-1100 AD | Location: Salo, Finland

Astuvansalmi Rock Paintings

The 65 rock paintings of Astuvansalmi are the largest found in the whole of Scandinavia. The oldest paintings are made 3000 - 2500 BC. They are located at the highest level (about 11 metres). The water level changed very fast about 2,5 metres with the landslide of Vuoksi. Later on the level slowly went down 8 metres to its present level. All the later paintings have been made from boats during the different historical wat ...
Founded: 3000 - 2500 BC | Location: Ristiina, Finland

Päijälä Hill Fort

Päijälä hill fort is an Iron Age hill fort by the Lake Saaresjärvi in Kuhmoinen. The abundance of artefacts found at the Päijälä hill fort makes it nationally significant. The fort is thought to have been used since at least the 12th century. Kuhmoinen was then a borderland between Häme and Carelian tribes who fought over the ownership of wilderness areas. The fort hill rises 25 me ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Kuhmoinen, Finland

Otterböte Bronze Age Site

The site consists of remains of nine huts, several rubbish heaps and a little well, which is the earliest known in well Finland. The site was populated around 1000 BC by seal-hunters who came from Poland. They used this site during the hunting season. The site is accessible by foot, the path starting from Hamnövägen is about 600 metres long.
Founded: 1000 BC | Location: Kökar, Finland

Ravattula Church Ruins

On Ristimäki hill in Ravattula, remains of an early medieval church were found in 2013. The remains have been dated to the late 12th century–early 13th century, in other words to the end of the Finnish Crusade period and the Early Middle Ages. The church is so far the oldest in Finland and also the only one dating from the period before the establishment of Finnish parish system. Ristimäki is exceptionally ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Turku, Finland

Kokemäki Castle

Kokemäki Castle (Kokemäen linna) was a medieval castle in Kokemäki town. The time of its foundation is unclear, but the castle was most likely completed in 1324-1325. It was demolished in 1367 by order of King Albert, as the local residents complained of heavy taxation for the upkeep of the castle. The castle was located on the Linnaluoto Island in the river Kokemäenjoki. Kokemäki Castle was the administrative centr ...
Founded: 1324 | Location: Kokemäki, Finland

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Porta Nigra

The Porta Nigra (Latin for black gate) is the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps. It is designated as part of the Roman Monuments, Cathedral of St. Peter and Church of Our Lady in Trier UNESCO World Heritage Site. The name Porta Nigra originated in the Middle Ages due to the darkened colour of its stone; the original Roman name has not been preserved. Locals commonly refer to the Porta Nigra simply as Porta.

The Porta Nigra was built in grey sandstone between 186 and 200 AD. The original gate consisted of two four-storied towers, projecting as near semicircles on the outer side. A narrow courtyard separated the two gate openings on either side. For unknown reasons, however, the construction of the gate remained unfinished. For example, the stones at the northern (outer) side of the gate were never abraded, and the protruding stones would have made it impossible to install movable gates. Nonetheless, the gate was used for several centuries until the end of the Roman era in Trier.

In Roman times, the Porta Nigra was part of a system of four city gates, one of which stood at each side of the roughly rectangular Roman city. The Porta Nigra guarded the northern entry to the Roman city, while the Porta Alba (White Gate) was built in the east, the Porta Media (Middle Gate) in the south, and the Porta Inclyta (Famous Gate) in the west, next to the Roman bridge across the Moselle. The gates stood at the ends of the two main streets of the Roman Trier, one of which led north-south and the other east-west. Of these gates, only the Porta Nigra still exists today.

In the early Middle Ages the Roman city gates were no longer used for their original function and their stones were taken and reused for other buildings. Also iron and lead braces were broken out of the walls of the Porta Nigra for reuse. Traces of this destruction are still clearly visible on the north side of the gate.

After 1028, the Greek monk Simeon lived as a hermit in the ruins of the Porta Nigra. After his death (1035) and sanctification, the Simeonstift monastery was built next to the Porta Nigra to honor him. Saving it from further destruction, the Porta Nigra was transformed into a church: The inner court of the gate was roofed and intermediate ceilings were inserted. The two middle storeys of the former gate were converted into church naves: the upper storey being for the monks and the lower storey for the general public. The ground floor with the large gates was sealed, and a large outside staircase was constructed alongside the south side (the town side) of the gate, up to the lower storey of the church. A small staircase led further up to the upper storey. The church rooms were accessible through former windows of the western tower of the Porta Nigra that were enlarged to become entrance doors (still visible today). The top floor of the western tower was used as church tower, the eastern tower was leveled, and an apse added at its east side. An additional gate - the much smaller Simeon Gate - was built adjacent to the East side of the Porta Nigra and served as a city gate in medieval times.

In 1802 Napoleon Bonaparte dissolved the church in the Porta Nigra and the monastery beside it, along with the vast majority of Trier"s numerous churches and monasteries. On his visit to Trier in 1804, Napoleon ordered that the Porta Nigra be converted back to its Roman form. Only the apse was kept; but the eastern tower was not rebuilt to its original height. Local legend has it that Napoleon originally wanted to completely tear down the church, but locals convinced him that the church had actually been a Gaulish festival hall before being turned into a church. Another version of the story is that they told him about its Roman origins, persuading him to convert the gate back to its original form.

In 1986 the Porta Nigra was designated a World Heritage Site, along with other Roman monuments in Trier and its surroundings. The modern appearance of the Porta Nigra goes back almost unchanged to the reconstruction ordered by Napoleon. At the south side of the Porta Nigra, remains of Roman columns line the last 100 m of the street leading to the gate. Positioned where they had stood in Roman times, they give a slight impression of the aspect of the original Roman street that was lined with colonnades. The Porta Nigra, including the upper floors, is open to visitors.