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Karesuando Parish

Take photos of the very Nordic-looking scene created by this wood and stone building, the northernmost church in Sweden, standing on the river border between Sweden and Finland. 

The church of the Karesuando Parish is the main place of worship in the northern Swedish village of Karesuando. The building stands above the banks of the Muonio River, which acts as a natural border between Sweden and Finland. Check out the simple architecture of the church, attend a Mass service and then enjoy views of the spectacular Lapland countryside.  

Today’s church is the second building on this site and dates back to 1905, with restorations carried out in the 1950s. The first church was built in 1816 but was demolished after it fell into disrepair. The prominent Swedish Sami pastor Lars Levi Laestadius preached here in the first half of the 19th century. He founded the Laestadianism movement, which had a significant influence on religious life in northern Scandinavia. 

The church has a wooden structure constructed on a stone base. To one side is a bell tower crowned by a tall spire and cross. Inside, an interesting feature is the altar sculpture by the late artist and university professor Bror Hjorth. It portrays Lars Levi Laestadius, his disciple Juhani Raattamaa and a Sami girl called Maria. 

From the grounds of the church you can gaze across the river to the Finish village of Karesuvanto. Rolling hills and sprawling meadows frame the village and become covered in a blanket of snow in winter. 

While in the area, walk to the nearby log cabin called Laestadius Pörte, the former home of Lars Levi Laestadius. He lived here with his wife and over a dozen children. 

The church stands at the northern end of Riksvåg 99, a scenic road that runs for about 224 miles (360 kilometers) to Haparanda. If coming from Finland, you can cross the river on foot or by car. This is an international border crossing so bring your passport. There’s a parking lot adjacent to the church grounds. 

The church of Karesuando Parish is open daily and admission is free. 


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