Morbid travel tip: Portinvartijan talo (“The Gatekeeper’s House”) in Salo, Finland.

“Portinvartijan talo” stands in Salo, southwestern Finland, about 60 kilometers from the city of Turku. If you’re interested in visiting the place, type this info into your navigator: “Järvikyläntie 56 Salo”.

The story of this house is as peculiar as the building itself.

Decades ago plans were made to build a large castle onto a hill in the middle of the woods in Salo, a town with currently around 53 000 residents in southern Finland. The person behind the project was a man named Osvald Wasastärna, and he wanted this castle to be his personal residence.

Unfortunately, his timing could not have been worse: the Finnish Civil War in 1918 put a dent to his otherwise ambitious plans, and thus, the castle itself, the purported main building of the area, was never built. Instead of building a new castle, Wasastärna ended up buying an old one, a manor called “Tammenpää”.

Though the castle itself was never built, Wasastärna’s project did manage to take a two leaps forward before coming to a premature end. The building that was supposed to house the safety guard of the castle was indeed built, as was a small bridge connecting two spots of land over a steep drop in the ground. As the castle this bridge was supposed to lead to was never built, the bridge is currently known as “Silta joka ei johda mihinkään”, “The Bridge That Leads Nowhere”.

The true kicker of the place, however, is the material used to build the gatekeeper’s house: gravestones. Yes, you read that right – stones essentially stolen from nearby ancient graves. Those are the stones you see bulging from the walls of the house.

As can be expected, the house is surrounded by several folk tales. Here are a few of them:

  • According to several visitors, despite its proximity to a fairly busy road, the area surrounding the house is eerily silent. Even when cars pass by the building, it’s as though their sound is somehow unnaturally muffled.
  • If you ask the average Finnish ghost fan “What house should I spend the night if I want to experience a haunted house in Finland”, it’s very likely you’ll get this building’s name as the reply.
  • Some claim to have heard the sounds of horses and riders crossing the “bridge to nowhere” after dark.
  • A local story says that a young upper class boy was buried in the woods near the area. The point of this story escapes me, however, and even if it were true, what does the grave have to do with the house and the bridge?

Regardless of whether you’re there hunting for a whiff of the paranormal, the area is a curious, eccentric little piece of Finland’s history from the early 1900s, and the surrounding country landscapes are dazzling in summertime. 

Just don’t enter the house at night… 

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