This wonderful building is the village sauna. Sauna is an ancient custom in Finland and still very much an important part of the culture, and we were delighted to be given an invitation to take sauna recently. Even more so since the village sauna in Fiskars is rather special. It has been built by community members more recently than it’s appearance might suggest, but it is a very traditional type of sauna. It is a ‘smoke sauna’ which is heated by wood fires for up to six hours before use, after which no more wood is added but the sauna stays hot for many hours.
The sauna is in a beautiful location, just slightly out of the village on a small promontory that protrudes into a large lake. The lake of course being an essential element in the experience – to go from the heat of the sauna and then into the cool water of the lake. Apparently still the thing to do even in January when the lake is beginning to freeze over. I’m glad it’s June.
The sauna has three rooms. The first was a kind of dressing room, with benches around it’s sides and hooks to hang your clothes on, but it was so much more than a dressing room. There was also a table which when we arrived was laden with food being shared, and a small fireplace in the corner where people might sit for it’s warmth (though the whole room was quite cozy) or cook sausages. An iron candelabra with candles hung above the table to add to the fire’s warm glow. It was around midnight, so it was dim outside. The next room was for washing. There was a great tub of water heated by the fires, and tubs of cool water pumped from the lake. Then the third room under the peaked roof was the steam room. Quite dark, and filled with the rich aromas of wood and smoke, we gingerly clambered up the tiered benches to find an unoccupied place to sit. Someone nearest the great oven threw ladles of water onto it creating hissing bursts of steam. The whole evening was certainly one to remember and I was assured that no other sauna would be quite like this one, even in Finland.