Sights

The Prayer House

At the crossroads, turn right and you will come to the Prayer House. It was built in 1910 since another church building was necessary for elderly people who could not easily climb up to the third floor of the lighthouse. You are welcome to go inside the church and sit for a while in silence.

The altarpiece is a window facing east towards the open sea, which in stormy weather rages over the rocks. These perilous waters turned out to be disastrous to the American cargo ship ´Park Victory´.

It was Christmas night in 1947. The `Park Victory´ was anchored near the islet of Lillharu, southeast of Utö. They had planned to stay there for Christmas. However, a blizzard broke out at night. The anchor chain broke in a full gale and the ship drifted out to sea, finally running aground on rocks, causing the vessel to leak and sink.

The men from Utö came to help. They had one pilot boat, the rescue boat ´Merikokko´ and one navy vessel. Under extreme circumstances, they managed to save the lives of 38 men, who then spent Christmas in the homes of the islanders. Ten men drowned.

In memory of these ten men, the islanders commissioned the making of a silver 10-light candelabra. It stands now in the Prayer House, by the altar. The names of these ten men are engraved on it. On the wall, there is a letter from the USA embassy thanking the people of Utö for their efforts to help save the lives of `Park Victory´s` crew.

The area south of the prayer house is part of the land that the Utö Hembygdsförening bought from the Finnish state when the army left the island at the end of 2005. The houses are rented by families that want to live on the island the whole year around.