Monday, March 17, 2008

My significant landscape, or what I do on my holidays

The landscape I am going to tell about is the island and fishing village of Tammio. The island of Tammio is located in the archipelago of the eastern Gulf of Finland. Typical of the archipelago are small, wooded islands. The shores are granite cliffs, smoothed by the Ice Age and the sea.

The island of Tammio has been inhabited since the 16th century, although there are traces of much earlier inhabitants in the area: there is a Bronze Age burial cairn in Tammio and two Viking Age cairns in one of the nearby islands. The present-day fishing village has its origins in the late 18th century. It has not been settled year-round since the 1950s, but many people, descendants of the former fishers, spend their summer holidays there.

The village shoreline is filled with boathouses. Behind them, on higher ground not flooded even during the worst storms of early winter, are the dwelling houses. There are around fifty one-storey wooden houses with their adjacent gardens and outbuildings. The houses are usually painted yellow or ochre, while the outbuildings and boathouses are painted red. Most of the buildings date to the 19th – early 20th century, which was the heyday of the village. They are concentrated in the western and eastern part of the island, forming a relatively densely built village. Footpaths lead from the shore up to the houses. The rest of the island is mostly forested, with some modern summer cottages on the shores further away from the village.

The village of Tammio is considered a rare and beautiful example of the fishing villages the eastern Gulf of Finland, surviving in almost its original 19th century appearance. The village has been protected by the NBA, and was nominated as a candidate to the UNESCO World Heritage List a few years ago.

The reasons why this landscape is very special for me have little to do with its importance as a cultural monument, however, and indeed nothing to do with detached academic observation. For me Tammio is a very personal landscape. It was the home of my grandfather, and a few more generations of grandparents lived there. I have spent part of my summers there since childhood. The atmosphere of the island is somehow tranquil and unhurried. In a world where most places I used to know have changed so much in the last decade or two that I can hardly recognize them, Tammio represents for me comforting stability and continuity, and a rare feeling of belonging to somewhere.

No comments: