Koli is an inseparable part of Finnish cultural history. Koli's peak has been a national landmark for the hunter and gatherer - and for the populations of both cultures - for thousands of years. According to national tradition, Koli is remembered as the sacrifice mountain of an ancient population. Koli has long remained uninhabited out of superstition.


Between the 16th and 17th century, Koli had a hunting and fishing economy and also practiced slash and burn, but it did not become permanently inhabited until the latter half of the 18th century. At the turn of the 20th century, Koli was already known as a tourist attraction. Koli's scenery has inspired countless romantic and nationalist artists, such as Juhani Aho, Eero Järnefelt, Venny Soldan-Brofeldt, Pekka Halo, I.K. Inha, and Jean Sibelius. The period in which the artists depicted Koli as a valuable national emblem is known as the Karelian Age. Today Koli is perhaps the most recognised cultural landscape.


The remnants of early inhabitation, such as slashed and burned birch woods, clearings and meadows with blooming flowers, and grey shingle roofed houses with straw-covered yards are a well-known part of Koli's cultural landscape. Old farms and courtyards have been restored with the help of local craftsmen. A traditional part of Koli's local culture is a substantial interest in collecting. Collections of national heritage can be seen at Koli's local museum.


Koli is the meeting point of eastern and western as well as Lutheran and Orthodox culture, and it has maintained a unique presence throughout the years. Traditional craftsmen can still be found within Koli's vicinity. The craftsmen's finished works are displayed at Ukko's nature centre.


Art at Koli can be enjoyed at standing galleries as well as at theatre performances during the summer.