Ukonvuori - Kolovesi
Kolovesi National Park lies in
the Province of Eastern Finland, South Savo Region, and it includes areas in
the municipalities of Enonkoski, Heinävesi and Savonranta. Its total area is
23 sq.km. It is managed by the Natural Heritage Services of Metsähallitus.
Kolovesi is a part of the
greater Lake Saimaa complex, which forms the largest lake in Finland.
Kolovesi National Park was established in 1990 to protect the natural
features of the Lake Saimaa archipelago in their natural state, the habitat
of the endemic Saimaa Ringed Seal (Phoca hispida saimensis), and the
forest ecosystems characteristic of Southern Finland. The wilderness-like
national park offers an attractive setting for canoeing or row boating in
the midst of the peaceful landscape. Motor boats are not allowed.
In Kolovesi the scenery is dominated by cliffs rising vertically from the
lake, at some places to 40 metres above the water level. This scenery was
formed by the last Ice Age. In the eastern part of the park, rugged
Ukonvuori Hill is a beautiful sight, containing formations of quartz
crystals. The ancient people used to fish and hunt in the area, and they
left behind rock paintings displaying human and animal (e.g. elk) figures.
The rock paintings in the national park, situated along an important ancient
to be sacred sites, which were associated with the annual cycle of spiritual
ceremonies. The ceremonies were related to fishing and hunting. The sacred
sites were collective meeting places, where the spiritual rituals reflected
and strengthened the social identity of the ancient people. The best-known
rock paintings in Kolovesi are located at Ukonvuori inside the Park and
Vieruvuori, and Havukkavuori just outside the Park boundary. In Heinävesi
and Enonkoski the rock paintings are located in cave-like sites, surrounded
by rocks and cliffs, which resemble animal and human figures. According to
experts, Ukonvuori is a sacred site of Ukko, the god of thunderstorms.
The dating of rock paintings is very difficult in nearly every case and
locality. According to the current view, rock paintings began to appear in
Finland in the beginning of the Neolithic Stone Age. The painting tradition
probably ended around 4,000-3,500 years ago.
The Kolovesi National Park,
with its peaceful landscapes and ancient sacred sites, has a great potential
to be used for educational purposes and in allowing contemporary people to
experience the spiritual values of the site by themselves.