"Seili Island" Nauvo Things to Do Tip by akkipaa

Nauvo Things to Do: 3 reviews and 3 photos

  Seili Church
by akkipaa

The island of Seili lies in Airisto, halfway between Nauvo and Rymättylä. In the summer you can take the ferry to Seili from Nauvo Guest Marina. You can travel back on the mainland to the place you started from, or do the round-trip. Either way, the trip offers an unforgettably beautiful natural scenery and moving journey into history.

In the past centuries, Seili was a place where leppers, mentally ill people and other outcasts where banished. Once a person was sent there, there was no coming back.

It all began at the beginning of the 17th century, when leprosy plagued western Finland, and King Gustavus II Adolphus founded a care and isolation community on the island. Until 1785, a few dozen lepers, at any one time, lived on the island. At the same time, mentally ill people occupied the other end of the island, and when leprosy disappeared, they formed the main population of the island. There was a mental institution on the island until 1962.

The way that the outcasts on Seili were treated is shocking and deeply moving. As a cure, both lepers and the insane were offered the word of God, water from a healing spring and liquor, which the islanders had the right to distil. It is presumed that the islanders traded in liquor with the inhabitants of the archipelago despite their disease.

The island of Seili formed a separate congregation from the very beginning. Its idyllic wooden church was completed in 1733 and has been preserved in excellent condition. The church's log walls embody the beauty of simplicity, and the tall wooden partition, behind which the lepers were allowed to listen to the fire-and-brimstone sermons, is still in place.

The fascination of Seili lies in the stark contrast between its grim history and idyllic nature. The island is owned by the University of Turku, and the fact, that there are no tourist services, with the exception of a small outhouse, is part of its attraction. Despite this shortcoming, thousands of tourist have visited the island since the ferry route was opened in 2003.

Address: Between Nauvo and Ryumättylä
Directions: Archipelago

Review Helpfulness: 2 out of 5 stars

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  • Written Sep 2, 2004
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