The Petäjävesi Old Church, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1994

The Petäjävesi Old Church is one of the 1,121 UNESCO World Heritage Sites located around the world. In 1994, the Petäjävesi Old Church became the third of the seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Finland to be added to the list.

The church, carved by Central Finland’s peasants between 1763 and 1765, was added to the list of World Heritage Sites as a unique example of the long architectural tradition of wooden churches in the Nordic countries.

What does World Heritage mean?

The UNESCO World Heritage Convention is a global agreement that aims to promote the preservation and safeguarding of the collective cultural and natural heritage of mankind for future generations.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) was established after the Second World War in 1945 to promote peace and safety by supporting international cooperation in the fields of science, education and culture.

UNESCO ratified the international convention to protect the global cultural and natural heritage in 1972, and Finland joined the convention in 1987.

How are World Heritage Sites selected?

Adding a site to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites is a recognition of the site’s Outstanding Universal Value.

Sites are required to represent a masterpiece of human creative genius or to bear a unique or at least exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition or to a civilisation which is living or which has disappeared in order to be added to the list. A site can be an architectural representation of a significant historical era or the habitat of a certain culture. Sites can also be related to events, living traditions, philosophies, religions, beliefs or artistic and literary pieces.

What are the World Heritage Sites located around the world?

Currently, there are 1,121 World Heritage Sites around the world. In addition to the Petäjävesi Old Church, the list includes the pyramids of Egypt, the Taj Mahal, the Great Wall of China and the Grand Canyon.

Learn more about all World Heritage Sites at the UNESCO website.

What are the World Heritage Sites located in Finland?

There are seven World Heritage Sites in Finland, of which six, including the Petäjävesi Old Church, are cultural heritage sites: The Fortress of Suomenlinna, Old Rauma, Verla Groundwood and Board Mill, the Bronze Age Burial Site of Sammallahdenmäki and the six Struve Geodetic Arc station points located in Finland from a total of 34 stations managed by the National Land Survey of Finland. The only natural heritage site in Finland is the area of Kvarken Archipelago shaped by post-glacial rebound.

Learn more about the sites at the Association of World Heritage Sites in Finland’s website.

What is required from a World Heritage Site?

Monitoring the use and management of the World Heritage Site and regular reports related to this. World Heritage Sites must be used and managed so that they are preserved for future generations. In order to safeguard the sites’ protected values and universal significance, all sites must have a management plan. The member state in which the site is located is responsible for preparing the management plan.