Reposaari Island was a wooded resting place for seafarers

Reposaari Island, with its rich maritime history, is located northwest of Pori, on the shores of the Bothnian Sea. From the 14th century onwards, but probably even before that, goods from the cities on the eastern coast of Sweden have been transported across the Bothnian Sea to the riverside trading sites on the west coast of Finland.

Reposaari is centrally located along this old sea route. As a wooded island, it was a visible landmark for those coming from the sea. The island had a sheltered and deep natural harbour which was used as a resting place and a safe haven.

The map of Reposaari from 1810.

A deserted island becomes the official outer port of Pori

For a long time, Reposaari Island had only a few summer cottages inhabited by fishermen. After the founding of the city of Pori in 1558, the island was made available to local merchants. Although the island was still used as pastureland, a harbour was built there. Maritime traffic increased and continued to grow as Pori obtained foreign trade rights in 1765, and Reposaari became Pori's official port.

Maritime traffic also needed pilotage as shipping increased. Pilots began operating in the early 18th century: five pilots were on duty in Reposaari and on Kallo Island in constant rotation. A pilot station was built on the southeastern tip of Reposaari in the 1850s. This station is a two-storey wooden house with a small observation tower. It is an exceptionally fine example of an early pilot's cabin.

The port of Reposaari was one of the most important in Finland

The port of Reposaari was expanded throughout the 19th century and for many years was one of Finland's most important export ports. Harbour operations are still visible in the Reposaari landscape.

Much of the harbour soil was ballast sand carried by large sailing vessels, which was loaded onto a ship or boat to ensure its stability. As vessels were loaded with merchandise, ballast sand was unloaded in Reposaari. This sand was well suited as fill material for the construction of streets and building sites. For this reason, material from a bygone age can still be found on the island.

Reposaaressa rakennettiin myös suuria purjelaivoja 1800-luvulla. Nykyisessä Varvinrannassa toimineen veneveistämön viimeinen laiva laskettiin vesille vuonna 1863. Large sailing ships were also built on Reposaari Island in the 19th century. The last of such ships was launched in 1863 from the Varvinranta shipyard, which still functions to the present-day.

A view from Reposaari Island to the sea: behind the rowing boat, sailing ships wait in the sheltered anchorage.

Sawmill activities grew an idyllic community

In the late 19th century, a steam-powered sawmill began operation on the island, soon becoming one of the most important in Finland in the early 20th century. With the sawmill and busy harbour operations, the population of Reposaari multiplied.

In the golden age of seafaring from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, an idyllic community of wooden houses of shipping developed on the island. These wooden houses are still a feature of Reposaari Island to this day. There was also a church, a school, a hotel, as well as merchant-owned villas with green spaces.

The sawmill operations, the dockyard and the steam sawmill formed the commercial basis of the island until the 1960s and 1970s, after which some operations were transferred to nearby Mäntyluoto.


The Reposaari gun battery expanded into a fortress

In 1935, a gun battery was built on the southern end of Reposaari Island to protect the city and harbour of Pori. This battery was expanded into a fortress in 1935, when the Defence Forces took command of it. Troops based at the fort took part in military operations during the war by disrupting and firing at enemy aircraft.

When the fort was abandoned by the Finnish Defence Forces in 1964 the weaponry was dismantled, except for two Canet cannons, which were used for practice drills until the late 1980s. Both are still stationed in the local museum. The neglected fortress has since been restored and the area is a museum in which one can explore the bunker station and the trenches.

Why and how is this site protected?

Together with Mäntyluoto, Reposaari Island forms a community that grew in the second half of the 19th century outside the city of Pori. It has been of great local and national importance thanks to its harbour operations, shipyard and steam-powered sawmill. The areas have been defined as nationally significant built cultural environments.

Read more about it!

The church in Reposaari is protected by church law.

The Reposaari church in the heritage building registry.


Reposaari Island is easily accessed by car via bridges from the mainland.

Finnish Heritage Agency’s mapservice

N: 6843487, E: 205396 (ETRS-TM35FIN)