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Mysterious monolith pops up in Savonlinna, eastern Finland

Locals say they have no clue as to how the pillar ended up on a hill overlooking the town’s iconic Olavinlinna Castle.

Monoliitti Savonlinnassa.
The monolith was first noticed on Thursday on a rocky hillside above the city's iconic 15th-century Olavinlinna Castle. Image: Kati Rantala / Yle

As home to an opera festival, the southeastern Finnish town of Savonlinna is no stranger to melodrama.

Still, locals seemed taken aback when a mysterious metal monolith suddenly appeared on a rocky hillside above Lake Saimaa on Thursday.

Similar gleaming columns have appeared and disappeared since November 13 in the US states of Utah, California and Texas as well as in France, Romania and on England’s Isle of Wight.

Copycat column?

The latest monolith was first noticed on Thursday morning at a former campsite near a sports field in Savonlinna’s Kyrönniemi neighbourhood.

As of Thursday evening, it remained unclear whether the structure was placed there as part of a coordinated effort involving similar columns seen in other countries – all of which have disappeared as suddenly as they appeared.

Jaana Komi, CEO of Visit Savonlinna, insisted that she was as baffled as anyone about the object.

"I don’t know any more about it than anyone else does. This seems to be a worldwide phenomenon. It’s wonderful that they have found their way to Kyrönniemi," Komi told Yle.

Komi said she had received many calls about the item after an article appeared in the local newspaper, Itä-Savo. She declined to speculate as to whether it might be a copycat replica created by locals.

"Quite mystical"

Among those who came to take a look at the object on Thursday afternoon was Sanna Malinen, an art teacher who heard about it from one of her pupils.

"I figured that as an art teacher, I should come and take a look when an amazing work like this appears right nearby. This is quite mystical," Malinen said.

She estimated that the column is about 2.5 metres high.

Malinen said she would rather not worry about who might be behind the work, but would rather just consider the object and others around the world as a pleasing phenomenon.

Yle also asked a local art collective, Savonlinnan palvojat, whether any of its members might have been behind the object’s appearance. The group denied any involvement.

Savonlinna, some 75km from the Russian border, is best known for its opera festival, which was this year was cancelled for the first time since 1967. The event takes place each July in the 1475 Olavinlinna Castle, which juts out of Lake Saimaa, home to the ultra-rare Saimaa ringed seals.

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