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Orthodox Religion

Orthodox Parish Between the East and the West

Ilomantsi is the oldest Orthodox area in Finland, the parish of which was established as early as in the 14th century. Today, 17% of the population in Ilomantsi belong to the Orthodox church – the highest proportion in Finland. Besides the main church in the centre, there are five small Orthodox chapels around Ilomantsi.

The earliest reference to the parish was made in the year 1500 in a Novgorodian tax register. At that time there was a small church on the hill in the centre of Ilomantsi dedicated to Prophet Elijah, in Finnish Elia, or as Karelians put it, Ilja.

The location of the parish between the east and the west has had a great impact on its 500-year-old history. Karelian mentality and eastern Savonian nature colour the ancient Christian tradition.

Living next to the border, between the two cultures, has enriched headstrong people’s lives. During the several wars, many left to Russian Karelia in search of a better life, and during the social changes in the 1960s, many moved to bigger and growing towns in southern Finland.


Orthodox Church of Saint Prophet Elijah

The Church of Saint Elijah is the largest wooden Orthodox church in Finland. It has five domes and dates back to 1892.

The annual fiest, Iljan praasniekka, is held 19th–20th July. The festival is dedicated to Prophet Elijah.

Kirkkotie 15, Ilomantsi

+358 50 470 6383

24th June–11th August
Monday–Sunday 11:30am–5pm

Guide at other times €15