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To see/do in Virrat

Virrat Heritage Village 

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.

Museum opening hours

  • Thank you for summer 2023! See you next year.


Take a look at the Heritage Village locations

MuseumsWindmillGrain storehouseDrying barnMikontaloField fortification areaTar pit

Tar pit

Virrat produced approx. 500 barrels of tar per year (approx. 62,500 l).

The significance of tar burning as a livelihood increased in Virrat after the 18th century, when the tar acquisition areas of the Ostrobothnians expanded to the south. Tar burning had most economic significance in the Virrat area that was limited to Southern Ostrobothnia, in Kurjenkylä in particular. According to information from 1785, the largest estates in Virrat produced approx. 30 barrels of tar. In the beginning of the 20th century, Virrat produced approximately 500 barrels of tar per year (approx. 62,500 l). The longest tradition of tar burning was in Kurjenkylä, which had the shortest distance to the Gulf of Bothnia coast. Tar burning tradition is visible in Finnish place names, which says something about its popularity: “Vanhanhaudanmäki”, "Perälänhaudanmäki”, “Hautaneva”, “Hautamäki”, “Hautavuori”, etc. (“hauta” is “pit” in English).

Tar was burned, either from peeled bark or pitchy pine rootstocks for tar burning. Pitchy pines were peeled before Midsummer, when the tree was peeled to the height of a man. A vein was always left on the northern side of the tree, so that the tree would not die. The following summer, the bark peeling continued approximately to the height of three metres. There were several pitchy pines at the same time, so that tar could be burned each year. The peeled trees were cut and carried to the tar-burning pit site in the winter, where they were ground into splinters.

The bottom of the tar pit was shaped like a funnel. In the middle of the funnel, there was an eye leading to the tar pipe. The bottom of the tar pit was cleaned and water was used to check that the pipe was not blocked.

The bottom of the pit was covered with birch bark and one layer of stems was laid on the bark layer. A flat eye stone was placed on top of the stems where the eye was, under which the tar could trickle down through the pipe to the entry of the pit.

After this, the pitchy wood splinters were stacked. The splinters were stacked on three blades around the pole log that was placed on top of the eye stone. The first blade was stacked at the height of two cubits, the second blade at the height of three cubits and the third blade at the height of four cubits.

Structure of the tar pit

The stacked splinters were planed or pummelled into tight piles, after which the pit was covered. It was covered using hummocks, spruce twigs, moss and soil. Around the bottom of the pit, the splinters were not covered in order to light the pit on fire.

The pit was lit on fire on each side at the same time. When the pit started to burn, the places that were lit were covered with dirt. The fire in the pit proceeded from the edges towards the centre. When the splinters heated, water and turpentine evaporated and, finally, tar condensed and trickled to the bottom of the pit. Burning the pit lasted for about five days, depending on the size of the pit. The tar master led the burning of the pit and supervised that the pit burned evenly. Usually three barrels or 375 litres of tar was obtained from the pit. In addition to tar, also coal was obtained.

Church boat houseCommunity hallSmoke saunaBlacksmithInn stables

Opening hours and contact information

Virrat Heritage Village
Herrasentie 16
34800 Virrat
p. +358 (0)3 485 1900

Accommodation, restaurant and programme services for groups upon request.

Map of Virrat Heritage Village

Page modified: 14 Aug 2023

Logo of Finnish Youth Centres AssociationMarttinen is one of the nine centres supported by the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture.

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