One of the interesting sights in the western part of Åland is Eckerö Church. Eckerö is a municipality on the Åland Islands. It is also the westernmost island within the archipelago’s larger inhabited islands. The narrow strait Marsundet separates Eckerö from the main island.
Eckerö was an important stop on the postal road between Sweden and Russia. The municipality has had a long and lasting parish with Eckerö Church in the center. The church is one of the smallest ones on the island.
As with many of the churches on the Åland Islands, the church in Eckerö is made of the local red rapakivi granite. The word rapakivi is Finnish and it means ‘crumbly rock’. It is also one of the few Finnish words that appears in the English language. Because of the material, the building has a very distinct appearance. The church is dedicated to Sankt Lars, Saint Lawrence in English. He was one of seven deacons in Rome and died a martyr in the year 258. The church belongs to the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland.
A Historical Past
There are remains that indicate that there was a church or chapel at the location at the beginning of the 13th century. One of the smaller church bells that is still in use is probably from the first half of the 13th century.
The longhouse of the current church dates back to the end of the 13th century. It is a stone structure with a wooden roof. The tower Eckerö Church is older, it dates to 1467. As its internal wooden support structure has survived for such a long time, it is today one of the oldest wooden structures in Finland.
Like with many churches from this time, it wasn’t until the 19th century that it received larger windows. As a defense, the church had earlier only had small narrow windows high on the walls.
The church is fairly simple but it has an interesting interior. For instance, some of the artefacts in the church, such as the crucifix and the wooden Madonna, are from the 14th century.
A somewhat morbid decoration is the one on the east gable. It is symbol for a grill. And if you didn’t know (we didn’t!), St Lawrence was grilled to death in AD 258.
In case you decide to see the church, we can also recommend you to visit the Iron Age burial ground that lies next to it. It is on the north side of the churchyard.
How to Go to Eckerö Church?
Eckerö Church stands just a few hundred meters from the main road between Mariehamn and Eckerö, road 1. Even though the church is not so easy to notice from the main road, you will know that you are on the correct road when you have the church right in front of you.
If you want to learn more about Eckerö Church, we can recommend you to have a look at kyrkor.ax >>
Looking for more sights on the Åland Islands?
Check out our Åland Islands Guide >>