The biggest collection of Smoke Saunas
Are you interested in sauna culture and the history of smoke saunas in Finland?
Probably the biggest collection of smoke saunas in the world can be found from Sauna Village which is located in Juokslahti, Jämsä. The story begins in 1970’s, when people in Muurame (a little town in Central Finland) started to gather Finnish sauna culture in one place. The aim was to collect different kind of smoke saunas in one area, and save these buildings from time and erosion. All these old saunas together would form a Sauna Village. The collection was so important, that in late 1970’s, Finland’s president Urho Kekkonen was being the protector of the Sauna Village.
Important part of Finnish sauna culture
The Sauna Village was first open in 1983, inaugurated by president Mauno Koivisto. During the most successful years of Muurame’s Sauna Village, there were 29 smoke saunas in the area, and some thousands of visitors familiarized themselves in sauna culture and old smoke saunas.
Most saunas are build in the end of 1800’s or in the beginning of 1900’s. The oldest sauna in Sauna Village, Palojärvi’s sauna, is from 1700’s, and it has been moved from Enontekiö, a town in northern Finland. The way from Enontekiö to Juokslahti has been long, but now the history of this old sauna is protected. The newest sauna in the village, Virpiö’s sauna, has been build in Muurame in 1940’s, and it is also the biggest sauna in the village. In between, there are plenty of saunas with different kind of history, and in the Sauna Village you can see the variety of saunas build in different times and parts of Finland.
How many different kinds of sauna stoves can you find from Sauna Village? As many as saunas – there are small and big sauna stoves, some are masonry stoves, some made by gathering rocks together. You should also pay attention to the roofs of saunas.
Sauna Village moved to Jämsä
Nowadays the Sauna Village can be found from Jämsä. Sauna lovers were waken up when hearing that the Sauna Village in Muurame is going to be shut down. There was buzz in the coffee tables of Finns, who thought that the Sauna Village must be rescued to protect the old saunas and sauna culture. Finnish Sauna Culture association was formed, and an area next to beautiful lake Päijänne, in Juokslahti, Jämsä was bought, so the saunas could be moved to a new location.
Saunas in new Sauna Village were warmed up first time in 2017, the year when Finns celebrated 100 years of independence. The plan is, that all the saunas are moved to Jämsä before the end of 2019.
Most of the saunas will be renewed so that those can be used in the future as well – others are “sauna museums”, where visitors can see and feel the history of saunas. Saunas are open for public and heated up by Finnish Sauna Culture association. You can ask them, when is the next sauna slot. Saunas can also be reserved for private use. From the area, you can also find a picnic table and in the future there will be barbecue place as well.
Work of Sauna Lovers
There has been many sauna lovers working for the Sauna Village. From the end of 1970 to early 1980’s, Regional Council of Central Finland together with Jyväskylä Fair Association were the associations in charge of the project. Now, when the Sauna Village is moving to Jämsä, the village is really representing Finns love to saunas: Sauna Village is completely maintained by volunteers. Also, architect Yoshimasa Yamada has been planning the new village area.
Are you a sauna lover? You can join the Finnish Sauna Culture association or even protect individual saunas. For more information, contact the Finnish Sauna Culture association. And most importantly – go and try out old Finnish smoke saunas!
Main photo: Kari Vainiomäki