Sights and Activities in the Rapola Hill Fort
In the Rapola Hill Fort and the area of relics, you can walk surrounded by fascinating cultural heritage. The area offers an abundance of unique historical sights:
- Finland's largest ancient hill fort rises high atop the southern end of the ridge. It was probably built in the Viking Age, in the 9th to 11th centuries. There was an approximately one-kilometre long defensive construction on the ridge, a circular wall, of which the supporting stones and sand terracing of the log structure still remain. The lookout point of the ancient hill fort offers spectacular views over the area. Read more about the history of the Rapola Hill Fort and the area of relics
- Ancient dwelling sites are signs of human habitation on the lower slopes of the Rapola ridge in the Iron Age. Remains of dwelling sites and stove-like mounds of stones have also been found in the area surrounded by the walls.
- Sacrificial or cup-marked stones have been used in fertility rites and ritual slaughters as well as to remember the dead. They can be identified by round cup-like depressions. Four sacrificial stones have been found in the Rapola area.
- Burial grounds, old cemeteries, look like mounds of stones and earth and provide interesting information on life in ancient times and trade with faraway corners of the world. Three burial grounds have been found in Rapola: the Matomäki and Hirvikallio burial grounds dating back to the 5th and 6th centuries and the Rupakallio level-ground cemetery from the 7th to 11th centuries. Items found in the burial grounds include a gold-plated silver throat of a scabbard, a bronze hook, fragments of a shield boss, spearheads, knives, iron rivets, a bronze watch necklace, jewellery, clay pot shards, a snaffle bit and swords.
- The ancient field was under cultivation from the end of the 8th century to the 13th century, and remains of a dwelling site dating back to the early first century have been found under it. Today, the ancient field is covered by a pasture.
- The national and cultural landscapes in Rapola are stunning. The area is part of the Vanajavesi valley national landscape and the Sääksmäki–Tarttila cultural landscape area. These landscapes have inspired many known artists even in earlier days.
- The Rapola and Voipaala Manors as well as the villages around the ridge are interesting in terms of their past and present. The villages are mentioned for the first time in a bull issued by the Pope in 1340. The oldest buildings of the Rapola Manor are the main building (from 1813) and the large stone cowshed (from the 1860s). The Voipaala Manor was founded in the early 17th century. It is surrounded by a Baroque park established in the late 18th century. Baroque parks are rare in Finland. Today, the Voipaala Manor houses an art centre.
- The Rapalum exhibition at the Voipaala Art Centre provides information on the prehistory, history and surroundings of the Rapola ridge and Sääksmäki.
- Valuable natural environments in Rapola, such as threatened heritage landscapes, are a delight to the eye. In the summer, you can also admire landscape gardeners at work: sheep and livestock grazing in the meadows in Rapola.
- Hiking routes introduce local nature and culture. Please stay on the paths so as to ensure that the valuable species and relics remain intact. The Rapola ridge nature and history path (1.6 km; valkeakoski.fi, in Finnish) leads from the yard of the Voipaala Art Centre to the Rapola Hill Fort. In addition to the nature of the ridge and the beautiful landscape, there are also small grove areas, old-growth spruce stands and prehistoric finds. The Rapola ridge path (6 km; muinaispolut.fi, in Finnish) takes the hiker from the parking area of the Voipaala Art Centre to the burial grounds, a sacrificial stone, the hill fort, the Rapola and Voipaala Manors as well as to the Sääksmäki Church made of grey stones. Snakes are common, so it is advisable to watch out when walking.
- The lookout platform of Rapola has been renewed. The stairs of the platform are made of steel but they have a dog friendly fairway which is suitable for paws.
- Note, that camping in the area of relics is prohibited.