hidden europe 16

An ancient Finnish highway: the Ox Road

by Nicky Gardner


Finland's Ox Road is one of northern Europe's ancient highways. It skirts lakeshores, crosses gravelly eskers, weaves round moraines and links some of Finland's oldest settlements.

Cast your eye over the modern map of Europe and it is easy to pick out the major highways that are the arteries of continental road traffic. There are the autoroutes that fan out from Paris, the autobahns that link the Rhine valley with the Danube basin and the Po valley, and there are those great international roads that span the entire continent: the E30 to Moscow and beyond, the E40 from Calais in northern France to the Chinese border.

These routes are all quite modern inventions, mere upstarts that have cast into the shadows the primary routes of history. Who now travels to Rome on the Via Francigena?

But look around, and still you will find the odd route from the past. The Ox Road (Hämeen Härkätie in Finnish) is a gem of an ancient route.

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