EXPERIENCE THE OLD WOODEN TOWN AND ARCTIC ARCHIPELAGO
Enjoy the Finnish Archipelago. Go island hopping, pack your lunch in a backpack and go for an expedition. Go for a walk in the old wooden town and tune in to the stories of the past and present.
Raahe region is a compatible sum of great parts: Raahe, Siikajoki and Pyhäjoki. Our home is located in North Ostrobothnia, Finland, on the shore of the Bay of Bothnia, between and on the banks of the Siikajoki and Pyhäjoki rivers. Read our story here >>
We hope these pages will give you plenty of reasons to visit the Raahe region. With us you will find out how locals and those who left their heart here describe their memories, moments and places that were meaningful to them. Explore accommodation options; here you can find hotels, charming apartments in the old town’s wooden houses, traditional cottages and farms in the peaceful countryside. Give yourself and your friends time and eat well. Enjoy physical activities and well-being inside and outdoors, hike and explore, enjoy culture and get inspired by art and many stories. Find activities for the whole family. Slow down or speed up, however you like, as long as you enjoy it.
Phone: +358 44 439 3240
Raahe region is located in Finland on the shore of the Bay of Bothnia. The sea and our rivers have shaped us into what we are now, living by them, living from them, traveling across them. We welcome you to feel the gentle and sometimes unyielding sea breeze on your face and hear it hum in the treetops of the forests in the inland.
Here the best parts of disparities unite.
We are particularly proud of our unpretentious way of life where the best parts of urban and countryside, industry and responsibility, productivity and silence, darkness and light unite. Our collective heartfelt legacy is the clean nature and we intent to keep it that way, clean and accessible, also for you to enjoy.
Minds and hearts open for new, embracing the old.
Let us be your guides to the things that make us happy in the destinations the locals love. Wanha Raahe, the soulful old wooden town of Raahe from the 18th century and the golden era of sail ships is one of the best preserved in Finland. Archipelago of Raahe is awarded as The Finnish Outdoor Destination of the Year 2016. Raahe region in coastal Finland offers plenty of possibilities to experience local history, art, strong maritime as well as contemporary culture, spiced up with a versatile selection of events.
Be happy, live like a local.
You are warmly welcome. Who knows, maybe you'll stay.
Category: We recommend
Old Town Raahe is one of the best-preserved 19th-century wooden towns in Finland. Not a museum area but a living town district, Old Raahe tells the tale of the construction of a town and life in it from centuries ago to the modern day.
Built on a former Lapp hut site, the town was originally quite modest. According to a town plan map drawn in 1659, the oldest picture of Raahe, the then 10-year-old town only comprised less than a dozen blocks, many of them nothing more than small strips. There were only two longitudinal streets and three cross streets. The drawing shows that the town was surrounded by a customs wall with two customs points: the eastern one outside the crossing of today’s Brahenkatu and Reiponkatu streets, and the southern one at the end of Pitkäkatu (now Kauppakatu) street, approximately at the location of today’s Koulukatu street. Even back then, the town had a busy port, located at the packhouse, which is now the Packhouse Museum. There was no shortage of wood for construction, and stones were procured from the islets in the archipelago, for instance. Founded by Count, Governor-General Per Brahe the Younger by order of Queen Christina, the town materialised “as if by magic”.
Picture of Rantakatu street from the map in 1659.
The town was constructed according to Renaissance regularity, following a strictly regular town plan. Residential buildings were constructed longitudinally to the street, whereas annexes and outbuildings, such as merchants’ storage facilities, bakery, sauna, cowshed, stable, privy, refuse heap, woodsheds and other sheds, were built near the edges of the plot. Gradually, these separate buildings turned into sort of fortification walls around the plots. The large plots of the Raahe bourgeoisie were mainly located close to Pekkatori Square and along the main streets. Retail trade was conducted “on the plot”, and shops opening into the street became more common in the 19th century. Join the Pekka statue and take a moment to look at life in the town, followed by coffee and pastries at the delightful café of the Trade House of Lang.
The town’s oldest preserved residential building, the Sovelius House dates back to the 1780s. Converted into a shipowner and merchant museum, the house charms visitors with its atmosphere even today. In the courtyard area, the Renkitupa holiday home offers accommodation with the smell of the sea and soul of the old town. The story of unhappy love features members of two of the town’s famous families. Be sure to ask to hear the story when you visit.
Picture of the downtown houses in Raahe from the map in 1659.
The history of Raahe is full of personalities, powerful men, strong and influential women, sailors and captains soaked in the salty waters of the oceans around the world, ladies and mademoiselles in lace and velvet dresses, tailors, coppersmiths and sailmakers. Craftsmanship was held in high regard in this town made wealthy by maritime transport and trade, and this also shows in the street names. For example, Reiponkatu was named after a ropemaker. The street is long and straight, which was important when making long and thick ropes for large ships. Today, ropemaker Vestberg’s house is known as Sofian Talo (Sofia’s House). Up until the 1980s, it housed a school for girls of limited means, established in 1843 by an influential local lady, Sofia Lybecker, with her mother’s inheritance. The house now hosts artist Vuori’s studio gallery. The Lybecker Institute is still training professionals for the creative industries, albeit at a different address.
Undeniably the most impressive roof in the old town belongs to Keskuskoulu, the central school, located at the inland end of Koulukatu street. On the same street, you can find Raahe Theatre with an intimate summer theatre in its courtyard. According to a story, the house that stood on the plot before the theatre and its predecessor, the Salvation Army, was surrounded by a typically high, annoyingly tight and fully opaque plank fence that prevented curious eyes from peeking into a most beautiful garden with wonderful southern fruit. Later, the harvest of this legendary garden proved, somewhat modestly, to consist of cherries and strawberries.
Picture of Northern customs in Raahe from the map in 1659.
Even though driving is allowed in Old Raahe, the best way to experience it is by taking an unhurried walk on the narrow streets. When you walk in the old town in the summer, you can look through the gates and still see the large courtyards and their gardens, emanating the spirit of old times.
One of the most popular services in the summer is guided theme tours organised by the Raahe Guides Association. Enjoy the guides’ stories about the people of yore, visits by kings and emperors, the life of sea captains and merchants who had seen the world, daily life, habits and people in the past and today.
Picture of Raahe Town Hall in 1659 in the town map.
Each year, the excitement of approaching Christmas is eased with the Old Raahe Advent Calendar. This involves residents and companies of the old town dressing up their windows in Christmas decor. The windows are unveiled one at a time, from 1 December all the way until 24 December. You can also follow the Advent Calendar on Visit Raahe’s social media accounts and with the Glopas audio guide.
In addition, you can use the Glopas audio guide while touring Old Raahe in the summer. Glopas can be downloaded for iOS and Android devices from app stores.
Just a stone’s throw away from the heart of the old town, from the pier of Packhouse Museum, the former sailors’ house, you can start a cruise in the award-winning Raahe archipelago. Buy some ice cream and sit down on the pier, just breathe in the fresh sea air, listen to the lilt of the happy town, or enjoy refreshments on the sunny terrace of Ruiskuhuone Café, located in a building formerly used by the fire brigade.
Picture of Kirkkokatu street in Raahe at the 1870s. Photo: Kirjastovirma.
Old town Raahe foundation, Wanha Raahe säätiö in Finnish, was formed to aid in the renovation and maintenance of the historic buildings in the old district. The foundation awards renovation grants for the nationally valuable historic buildings. The foundation also organizes training and other events to promote the historic preservation of the old district. As a friend of Old Town Raahe you can contribute to the preservation by donating to the foundation as an individual, a company, or a bequest. More info in Finnish on foundation website.
More information about the history of Raahe (only in Finnish)
Samuli Paulaharju: Wanha Raahe
Hilkka Aaltonen, Eija Turunen: Vanha Raahe
Liisa Männistö: Jugend-talon kaksi elämää
Pekka Kärki: Suomalainen historiallinen kaupunki
Category: Whole family, We recommend, Attractions
The sea off the shore of the Raahe region freezes over each winter. Skiing trails are opened on the ice as soon as the ice conditions allow it. You can download an ice skiing map online (only in Finnish). Remember that moving on the sea is always at your own risk. Smart ice activities require warm clothing, ice awls and an alert mind.
The archipelago, for example the island of Tasku, is a popular destination in both summer and winter. Tasku is approximately five kilometres from the museum shore. A day hut serves hikers as a stopping place, offering café services from around Shrove Tuesday depending on the ice situation.
Besides skiing, popular ice activities include riding a kicksled and mountain biking. A selection of rental equipment including fatbikes, snowshoes and kicksleds as well as bikes is available from Botnia Outdoor. The multipurpose routes allow you to explore both the archipelago and a few nature trails.
Instructions for users of multipurpose routes
The ice conditions on the Baltic Sea can be followed on the Finnish Meteorological Institute website.
You can also explore the wintry archipelago on a sleigh. There are different routes for sleigh rides.
There is a large network of skiing trails in the region, providing joy for skiers of all ages and skill levels. The skiing trails start from near the centre of Raahe.
Category: Nature attractions, Wellness, Wellbeing & sports, Outdoors, Whole family, We recommend, Activities
The Raahe archipelago, Finnish Outdoor Destination of the Year 2016, is a gem right in front of the town. The compact urban archipelago consists of around 50 small islands and islets. Take a short cruise, spend a lovely summer day on an island, learn about nature formed by post-glacial rebound on a nature trail, listen to audio guides to hear about the history of maritime transport and other stories, savour the peace of uninhabited islands and enjoy the lovely beaches. See the historical wooden lighthouses on islands of Iso-Kraaseli and Tasku built in 1853.
You can easily enjoy the archipelago. In the summer, there are daily cruises and Island Hopping trips. You can take part in guided kayaking trips on nearby waters or further to the open sea. We also offer skilled guidance and company for more experienced stand-up paddlers. For boaters, there are mooring points on the islands of Iso-Kraaseli, Kalla, Tasku and Ulkopauha.
The resting huts on the islands of Tasku, Kalla and Ulkopauha are freely available for use by anyone. On Iso-Kraaseli Island, you are welcome to use the outdoor kitchen and fireplace.
The island of Iso-Kraaseli features a pier for small boats, a kayak pier and a large concrete pier with landing levels and a wheelchair ramp on both sides. Some 1.3 km long and 600 m wide, Iso-Kraaseli is Raahe’s second largest island. The island features a wooden daymark, a 2.3 km nature path, barbecue facilities, a campfire site, a table and benches, a toilet, a sauna and a pilot house leased by MeriRaahe with beds for 13 people. In addition, the island has a glo-lake and a large pine. For more information on accommodation, the opening hours of the summer café and events, visit MeriRaahe homepages.
Location: 64°40,8’ P, 24°24,4’ I
Port number: 1864
Docking: bow-codend buoy
A 2.5-metre boating fairway leads to the harbour
A significant part of the archipelago of Raahe belongs to the Natura 2000 network due to its birdlife, vegetation and habitat types. With a total area of 2,240 hectares, the archipelago includes approx. 358.5 hectares of land and shallows and 1,881.5 hectares of water areas.
The Raahe archipelago is the only significant archipelago in the area between Rahja (Kalajoki) and Oulunsalo. The archipelago includes both wooded inner islands near the coast and small, bare islets further in the open sea. The archipelago forms a scenically valuable entity shaped by post-glacial rebound and early means of livelihood, such as cattle herding, fishing and maritime transport.
To prevent disturbance of nesting birds, landing is prohibited on the key bird islets and islands. Landing ban on the following islands from 15 April to 15 July: Saapaskari, Kakkonen, Selkämatala, Kallanriutta, Rääpäkänriutta, Vesimatala, Isokivi, Kurikka, Kusiini, Kanttikivet. Landing ban on Rääpäkkä from 1 May to 20 July. Landing ban on Jyry from 1 May to 15 July.
Category: Nature attractions, Whole family, Guides, We recommend, Activities, Attractions
“They first noticed from the daymark that the home ship was pushing from the open sea with full sails towards Raahe, and the flag was immediately raised in signal. And a happy rush ran through the town: ‘The daymark flags!’ There was no need to say more. The whole town know that the home ship was coming,” and this set off a special series of events, including a three-day permit to celebrate! - Samuli Paulaharju, Old Raahe
According to memory, the Kumpele daymark was as tall as eight men and red in colour, with a timber frame and lined with vertical boarding.
Photo taken by Samuli Paulaharju in 1923.
Experience the Raahe archipelago and its historical landmarks – daymarks (lightless lighthouses)
In summertime, you can access the archipelago on cruise boats or by canoe – or go stand up paddling either on your own or on guided tours, or with your own or rented equipment or boat. Normally, the cruise boat charter transport season starts in May and operates all the way until October. The summer schedules for daily departures are published on the Archipelago cruises and transport website.
In winter, when the ice is firm enough, the islands can be accessed by sleigh and other means, weather permitting. Skiing, walking and cycling on the frozen sea is a favourite pastime for locals too. In the brochure on excursions in the Raahe area, read more about the services available in the archipelago.
When King Gustav III finally granted staple town rights to Raahe on 7 April 1791, the town had to build a customs house for clearing goods and also meet other criteria set for staple towns. Increased commercial seafaring prompted coastal cities to systematically improve the way they marked ship routes. By the end of the 18th century, most routes leading to ports in the Gulf of Bothnia had been marked off with daymarks. In the 18th century, daymarks for sailors were set up on the islands of Tasku, Kello, Iso-Kraaseli and Kumpele off the shore of Raahe. There were four pilots serving in Raahe in 1760. Land uplift on the eastern coast of the Gulf of Bothnia also contributed to the fact that underwater rocks and shoals constantly took seafarers by surprise even when they were familiar with the routes. However, the dangerous nature of the routes prompted coastal people to hone their piloting skills. The safety of commerce and seafaring relied on their vigilance.
Various landmarks and signposts have always guided seafarers on their way. The simplest signposts were those provided by nature: rocks, hills, trees, piles of stones. Later, people began to erect crosses on coastal cliffs or stony grounds, heap up stones and light beacons in certain locations on the shore. Such cross-shaped signposts are likely the origin of the prefix “kors-/risti” (cross) that frequently occurs in place names on the coast. For example, the oldest church of the parish of Saloinen, known already in 1329, was located in Ristikangas. An islet called Ristiluoto is located in the same region, between the islands of Lapaluoto and Iso-Kraaseli.
Daymarks had been set up on the coast of Sweden since Queen Christina’s (1632–1654) reign. Johan Månsson’s book Merikirja from 1644 contains the first reference to a daymark located on Finnish waters, on the Utö Island. Apparently, the first daymark was erected on the Tasku Island at the same time to mark the route leading to the recently founded Raahe (town of Salo in 1649).
These daymarks, or lightless lighthouses, were intended as signposts for daytime seafaring. They were the most important navigation marks in the Age of Sail, erected to mark routes leading to places such as towns. In good weather, daymarks sticking out from islands and shoals could be seen from miles away. The most common purpose of daymarks was to indicate the start or course of a route. They did not have a specific message indicated by a recurring shape or colour combination. Their ability to guide ships was based on the pilots knowing how to approach each sign and how to pass them.
The most important thing about the shape and colour of daymarks is that they are visible on the horizon from a long distance. The most common daymarks are tower- or cone-shaped, such as the one in Iso-Kraaseli. Pyramid-shaped daymarks, such as the one in Tasku, have been built as well. Different signposts were sometimes added on top of the daymarks – such as a flag in Iso-Kraaseli, a cross in Tasku and a weather vane in Kumpele. The most frequently used colours were red, white (Iso-Kraaseli) and yellow (Tasku). Colour selection was affected by the daymark’s environment and the direction from where the vessel came. If there was a dark forest in the background of the daymark, the structure as a whole or a section of its wall surface was painted white; if there was open sea, a darker paint was used. Even under varying lighting conditions, visibility could be ensured through sharply contrasting colour combinations.
These large yet rather light structures were exposed to the elements due to their location. Generally, daymarks are equipped with items referred to as wind anchors: a timber chest, a couple of metres in height, was usually placed at the bottom of the structure and filled with stones (Tasku). Occasionally, daymarks were supported to prevent them from falling over. Their polygonal shape that tapers upwards also improved their resistance to weather (Iso-Kraaseli). The frame usually consists of heartwood as high as the daymark, and other support structures are grouped around it.
Early lighthouses were built and maintained by the bourgeoisie in local towns. The structures were designed by all kinds of people. After the founding of the Ostrobothnian navigation district, funding for construction of daymarks was provided by the state and design work was governed by state administration. Officer Albin Sjerncreutz representing a Finnish army unit during the era of autonomy was appointed as chief of the new navigation district. His task was to inspect the condition of existing navigation marks and the need for any new ones. Stjerncreutz designed all of the seven daymarks built in the Gulf of Bothnia in 1850–1857, including the ones in Iso-Kraaseli and Tasku off the shore of Raahe.
Wooden daymarks gradually had to give way as lighthouses became more common. The first sea lighthouse in Ostrobothnia was completed on the Norrskär Island in Kvarken in 1846. An actual construction boom, however, did not happen until the 1870s and 1880s when some of the wooden daymarks were replaced by tile and steel towers sending out light. Since the beginning of the 20th century, daymarks became outdated and were no longer replaced after incidents such as storms or fires. The rare remaining daymarks are still marked in nautical charts, even though they are barely relevant to modern seafaring.
Thirteen wooden daymarks built in the 18th and 19th century remain on the coastal strip between Siipyy and Tornio. 40 daymarks were listed in Finland’s maritime area in 1865, 18 of which were located in the Gulf of Bothnia. The daymarks, which have stood nearly unchanged in their original locations, have cultural-historical value as buildings and are an essential part of the building heritage of Finnish seafaring.
The Iso-Kraaseli daymark was built in 1852 according to the plans of Albin Stjerncreutz, chief of the Ostrobothnian navigation district. 25 metres above the sea level, 18 metres above the ground. Even earlier, there were a daymark and a pilot’s hut on the island. According to a sailing guidebook from 1865, a senior pilot and three pilots were on duty in the pilot’s hut. They had steering documents for all three entrance routes to Raahe. The Iso-Kraaseli daymark and the tower of Raahe’s old church were important signposts for the central route. In the Kraaseli daymark, the heartwood tree running all the way through the roof forms a two-metre pole on top of the structure, which was used as a signal pole. The daymark’s sea-facing walls are white, while the other parts are red.
The daymark in Tasku was built in 1853. 19.2 metres above the sea level, 16.5 metres above the ground. Designed by Albin Stjerncreutz, chief of the Ostrobothnian navigation district. The original colour of the daymark was yellow. The daymark was repaired in 1866, and it is said that it was also tarred and painted with red-ochre, but was later repainted yellow in 1877. The first daymark was apparently built on the Tasku Island in the very first years following the establishment of Raahe town (1649). The layout of the daymark is square-shaped. The building resembles a church tower and the roof is pyramid-shaped, with a cross on top. The daymark was repaired in 1890, 1909 and 1914. In 1922, the daymark’s liners were renewed, the cross was replaced and a lock was added to the door, double-painted with oil paint.
Information retrieved from the archives of the Oulu pilot district in the Oulu Province Archives.
The daymark on the Kumpele Island was built in 1790. It burnt down to its foundation stones on 5 February 1961.
The article has been abridged and adapted from a text received from the Raahe Museum.
Category: Nature attractions, Museums & churches, We recommend, Attractions
Address: Mansikkakarintie 200, Raahe
Phone: +358 45 214 9007
The sculpture park of Raahe-based self-educated artist Matti Lepistö (1948-2020) is truly a unique place to visit. The prolific artist Matti Lepistö, who worked with several different techniques, became known especially for his concrete sculptures. Over the years, they have become a private sculpture park with almost 300 sculptures in his backyard in Pattijoki. In addition to sculptural art, Matti painted, drew, wrote, photographed and made stained glass.
In the exhibition you can get acquainted with the artist's sculptures. The park features animal and human sculptures as well as mythology and surreal art. Some of the sculptures are works that critically examine the conquests of religion, while the animal figures and the Kalevala themed pieces are in perfect harmony among the themes and depictions of the countryside that symbolize the birth of life. For Matti Lepistö, making art was a way of life and a vocation. Matti hoped as many people as possible to experience his art and also encouraged others to try concrete processing to create art.
Matti Lepistö's legacy wants to respect the artist's wish and memory by keeping the sculpture park open to the public. You can come to the sculpture park to spend a summer day, even on a picnic.
Category: Outdoors, Whole family, Monuments & statues, Culture & galleries, We recommend, Attractions
Address: Pajakatu 4, Raahe
Phone: +358 50 522 7673
Stepping in the door of Raahen Taitopaja, you will find yourself inside an old foundry crammed full of straw mobiles – the shop’s range of 100 different mobile models is on year-round display. You will also see glass pieces made with a variety of techniques and learn about the old tradition of bronze casting. The shop is also home to the tradition Raahe dog figurines that have a story of their very own.
The Taitopaja shop features products made in-house, which are also available by order. The shop provides craft demonstrations and courses by order, focusing on glass work, bronze casting, candle making as well as traditional and glass mobiles.
Category: Groups, meetings & parties, Shopping, Activities, Attractions