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The ancient Koli and settlement

The hills of Koli are remnants of an ancient mountain range, the Karelid Mountains. The Karelid Mountains formed nearly two billion years ago when tectonic plates were pushed against each other. The hard quartzite rocks that were produced during the event have withstood the abrasion and weathering during the glacial periods better than their surroundings. The Koli area was settled in the 1750s. At that time, people relied on the surrounding nature for their livelihood. Fields were cleared by burning woodland. Settlement, the traditional slash-and-burn farming method and utilisation of the forest opened wide views into the national landscape that later became famous.

History of tourism

At the turn of the 1800s and 1900s, Koli was impressed into the minds of Finns by the works of artists such as Eero Järnefelt, Juhani Aho, Pekka Halonen, I. K. Inha and Jean Sibelius. Koli had become a symbol of the Kalevala scenery and the Finnish national spirit. During National Romanticism and Karelianism, Koli also became famous as a tourist attraction. Throughout the 1800s, people visited Koli primarily through Lake Pielinen and the harbour, until the Koli road was completed in 1913. The oldest signposted nature trail in Finland was opened in Koli on 12 July 1896. During the same summer, the first tourist lodge (the "High Lodge") was built in Koli. At that time, Koli was already one of the most popular tourist attractions in Finland. Koli also offered the possibility to enjoy downhill skiing after the first slope was opened in the late 1930s. The High Lodge, which was located on the spot of the present hotel, was extended in the early 1930s. A hotel wing was added to the High Lodge in 1967, and the actual High Lodge was converted into the present hotel building in 1970.

The Koli National Park and national landscape

In 1994, Ministry of the Environment selected 27 particularly important Finnish sceneries as Finland's national landscapes. Koli was one of the regions chosen. Many people consider Koli one of the most important, or even the most important of the national landscapes. The claim that Koli is the most photographed landscape in Finland is also not very far-fetched.

The Koli National Park is one of the most famous nature sights and tourist attractions in Finland, as well as one of the best-known Finnish national landscapes. The size of the National Park is 3,000 hectares, and it is situated in the area of the municipalities of Joensuu, Kontiolahti and Lieksa. The Koli National Park was founded in 1991 and extended in 1996.