Virrat Heritage Village is a museum and travel destination for the whole family as well as a summer recreational area on Marttinen island, full of natural beauty. The Heritage Village is located in the immediate vicinity of Youth Centre Marttinen.
In Rajalahti House Museum and in Hali Loggers’ Cabin you can explore rural life in Virrat at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries and the everyday life of loggers and forest work in the 1950s and 1960s. The Heritage Village also has many other old buildings, such as stables (1820s), a smock mill (1828), a smoke sauna (1840s) and a village storehouse (1878). In addition, there is a War veteran museum presenting 20th century war history and the Canal Museum maintained by the Transport Agency.
The museums in the Heritage Village are open for groups upon request around the year.
In the summertime, events and exhibitions are organised in the Heritage Village. The area has a café-restaurant, kiosk, handcraft, gift and art shops, a playground and Herraskoski canal.
You can book accommodation, restaurant, café and programme services from Youth Centre Marttinen, and you also have free use of the beach, guest boat dock, nature path and field fortification area from World War I.
The smoke sauna was built in the 1840s in Koronkylä in Virrat, on Ylä-Patala land. The sauna was moved to the Heritage Village in 1981 with communal effort.
The Finnish sauna is Baltic-Finnish joint heritage. The word sauna with the same meaning is known in the Votic, Estonian and Livonian languages. Sauna was known in the 19th century in the area that spanned from the Baltic Sea region to behind the Ural Mountains.
Saunas were always built, due to danger of fire, outside the yard area. The sauna stove, the heart of the sauna, was usually built by the door. At first, the stove was a pile of natural rocks. Later it was made of bricks.
The sauna has a separate bathing bench and malt bench, the latter of which takes up most of the space. In addition to bathing, the sauna has been used for manufacturing linen, smoke-drying meat, brewing beer, making malt and kama flour mixtures, as a place for cupping blood and for giving birth.
In Finnish folk tradition, a special system of rules was associated with the sauna, controlling people’s behaviour in the sauna. These rules emphasise the holy nature of the sauna and oblige the sauna-goer to behave in a calm and restrained manner. This has been based on the fact that the sauna is a place to give birth and seers, healers and blood cupping practitioners operated in the sauna. “You are blessed because of fear when you go to the sauna”.
In the Finnish tradition, the sauna is an intimidating place. The sauna and the drying barn were the most intimidating of the buildings in the house. “It used to be horrible when you had to go to the drying barn or sauna in the dark to get something. Both of them had a sprite, and the most feared place was an abandoned sauna.”
Most stories and beliefs emphasised how you shouldn’t bathe too late on Saturdays. The Catholic church in the Middle Ages made this idea even stronger. The church demanded to start preparing for Sabbath already on Saturday, so that Sunday could be dedicated to rest. The last sauna-goer in the folk stories would often meet supernatural bathers.
Another common story topic was what the servants told about the devil, who would skin any late bathers, usually the master of the house. This is how the story goes: The greedy master makes his servants work late on a Saturday night and the servants don’t have any free time. At last, they are able to go to the sauna and the servants bathe first. The last person to go to the sauna is the greedy master, and the devil bathes and skins him.
Virrat Heritage Village
p. +358 (0)3 485 1900
Accommodation, restaurant and programme services for groups upon request.
Marttinen is one of the nine centres supported by the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture.
Read more on the websites of Finnish Youth Centres Association