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Estonia: the sights of a small country with a long history

Diverse Estonia and its sights

Estonia is a small Baltic country, where you definitely need to go to all those who appreciate the harmonious combination of virgin nature and historical monuments, antiquity and modernity. You should also go to Estonia because short distances allow you to visit in a short time the most interesting places of the country, its sights.

An interesting fact: there are about 1500 islands and more than 1000 lakes in Estonia.

Fascinating Tallinn

Where should we go first? Of course, in the capital of the country — beautiful and cozy Tallinn (Tallinn), the historical center of which is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Tallinn is located on the southern shore of the Gulf of Finland. The name of the city goes back, perhaps, to a phrase in Estonian, which can be translated as “Danish city”. There are other translation options — «winter city», «manor house».

The first written mention of Tallinn dates back to 1154. Thanks to its good geographical location, the city quickly became a center of commerce and a famous harbor. Tallinn was one of the first in the 13th century to join the Hanseatic League, through which it passed the famous path “from the Varangians to the Greeks”.

The main attractions of the city are located in the Old Town. Tallinn is unique in that, unlike most European medieval cities, it has a well-preserved fortress wall (2 km long) and 18 of 26 fortress towers. The old town is a single ensemble with a fortified wall, winding streets and medieval buildings in the style of the northern Gothic.

Old Tallinn consists of two parts: Vyshgorod and the Lower Town. The center of the Lower Town is the Town Hall Square, where Christmas and New Year holidays, various festivals and concerts take place.

Sights of Town Hall Square:

  • Town Hall (early 15th century), the only well-preserved medieval town hall building in the Gothic style in Northern Europe. From 1530 the Old Thomas, one of the symbols of Tallinn, adorns the spire of the Town Hall;
  • The oldest pharmacy in Northern Europe (operating since 1422).

To the right of the Town Hall, on Pikk Street, is the church of St. Olaf — the architectural dominant of the Old Town. In the XV — XVI centuries, it was considered the tallest building in the world. From the observation deck of the church you can look at the beautiful panorama of Tallinn.

If you climb to Vyshgorod, you can visit one of the oldest churches in Estonia — the Dome Cathedral (XIII century). In the 19th century, an organ made in Germany was installed in it. The Dome Cathedral is one of the most famous buildings in Tallinn.

In the XIII century, another landmark of the Old Town was erected — the Revel Fortress (Revel is one of the historical names of Tallinn). Now, at one of the towers of the fortress — Long Hermann — the Estonian state flag is being raised every day. Near the tower, in the castle is located the parliament building.

At the end of the XIX century a magnificent Orthodox cathedral of Alexander Nevsky was erected in Vyshgorod. It is made in the pseudo-Russian style and has become a symbol of the Russification of Estonia.

Another ancient and significant building is the landmark of Tallinn — the former Lutheran Church of St. Nicholas (Niguliste), built by German merchants in the XIII century in honor of the patron saint of sailors of St. Nicholas. This is one of the tallest buildings in the city, its high spire is clearly visible from almost everywhere. Now in the building of the church is one of the branches of the Art Museum, organ concerts are held.

Medieval and charming old Tallinn has repeatedly served as cinema scenery and captured in numerous Soviet historical films.

To the west of the city center, in the coastal area of ​​Rocca al Mare, there is one significant place where it will be interesting and informative to go with the whole family — the Estonian open-air museum. On the territory of 79 hectares there is a reconstruction of the rural national architecture of the last two centuries, a peasant way of life. In addition, the museum organizes “living history days”, when each visitor can taste traditional Estonian food, see how the peasants worked, and make some utensils.

There is another place where you definitely need to go with children. This attraction will be interesting to both big and small, both boys and girls. In the Kadriorg Park, popular among citizens, there is a beautiful Baroque palace and park ensemble of the 18th century, built by Peter I for his wife Catherine, the future Russian empress. Now in the palace is the Art Museum.

Historical sites and architectural monuments of Estonia

There is a lot to see in the small square of Estonia, there are many places of interest for tourists: historical monuments, castles, palaces and temples. We list the places where you should definitely go.

Castles of Estonia

  1. Castle in the city of Rakvere (XIII century). On the castle grounds, adults and children can reincarnate as knights, archery, ride a horse, familiarize themselves with the themed premises.
  2. Narva Castle Built at the end of the VIII century, one of the best examples of fortifications in Estonia. Now in the castle is a museum and craft workshops.
  3. The bishop’s castle in Kuressaare (XIV century) is the most beautifully preserved medieval castle in the whole Baltic region.
  4. Alatskivi Castle (XVI century) on the shores of the lake of the same name is the most beautiful neo-Gothic building in the Baltic countries.
  5. Castle Taagepera. Very beautiful building built in the XIX century. Popular venue for wedding ceremonies.
  6. Sangaste Castle is one of the most magnificent buildings in the Estonian countryside. The model for the construction of the castle served as the residence of the Queen of England — Windsor Castle.

Historical and cultural monuments

  • Tartu Town Hall Square is one of the main architectural attractions of the university city of Tartu. The square has been preserved since the 1700s and is a single ensemble in the style of classicism. In 1998, a fountain “Kissing Students” was installed on the square, which became the symbol of the city;
  • St. John’s Church in Tartu (XIV century) is famous for its unique collection of terracotta sculptures, which are estimated at seven centuries old. One of the most valuable monuments of Gothic architecture in Eastern Europe;
  • Kõpu Lighthouse is one of the oldest continuously operating lighthouses in the country and the world. He began to operate in October 1649. The height of the lighthouse is 36 meters, and its light is visible at a distance of 35 nautical miles. This landmark is located on the second largest island of Estonia, Hiiumaa;
  • Kihnu island — a corner of «frozen» time. 600 inhabitants of the island sacredly keep ancient traditions, and wedding ceremonies of this place are ranked by UNESCO as masterpieces of the intangible cultural heritage of humanity. In July, Sea Days are held on Kihnu — a holiday when local crafts and food fairs are held, various master classes are held, concerts, sports competitions, competitions for children, fishermen are held, and in the evenings a dance festival;
  • The Setu Museum in Setomaa. The museum exposition demonstrates the life, handicraft, household items of a small Seto (Seto) people who have preserved their centuries-old structure and traditions. His peculiar tune by Leelo is included in the UNESCO List of Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Natural tourist places of Estonia

The nature of Estonia is beautiful with its special, northern beauty. Its lakes and rivers, the Baltic Sea and its beaches, dense forests are also attractions, as they create unforgettable, beautiful landscapes. There are many national parks in the country, where visitors have the opportunity to independently observe the wildlife. Let’s name the most interesting places of Estonian nature.

National parks

  • Lahemaa National Park, which can be reached in just an hour from Tallinn. In the park, in addition to natural reserve places, you can visit the ancient settlements, visit the restored manor estates;
  • Vilsandi National Park — the first reserve in Estonia, consists of islands and reefs inhabited by large bird colonies;
  • Matsalu National Park — one of the best places in Europe for bird watching, a paradise for bird watchers;
  • Soomaa National Park — Land of marshes. Due to the unique microclimate, there exists a “fifth season” — the period of spring flood.

Estonian beaches

  • Pärnu city beach, a beautiful and well-equipped beach in Pärnu, the summer capital of Estonia. Protected from cold winds by the forest;
  • Narva-Jõesuu beach is a sandy strip stretching for 9 km between the pine forest and the sea. The most spacious and longest beach in the country;
  • Kauksi beach — one of the most popular holiday destinations on the shores of Lake Peipsi;

Wonders of nature

  • Piusa caves are not exactly a natural landmark, as caves arose as a result of the development of sandy deposits of the Piusa river. However, they are known for the huge number of bats that winter in these places;
  • The Jägala waterfall with a height of 8 meters and a width of 50 m is one of the largest waterfalls in Estonia. In severe frosts, the waterfall freezes, forming a giant ice wall;
  • Kaali crater on the island of Saaremaa — a 110-meter-wide crater sprung from a meteorite;
  • Vaalaste waterfall is the highest waterfall in Estonia and other Baltic countries. The highest point is 56 meters. National symbol of Estonia;
  • The Witch’s Well in Tukhala is a natural dip, filled with water during a flood at a fantastic speed of almost 100 liters in one second. The water in the well as if boils.

Estonia is a small country with an area of ​​unique climate, natural and cultural diversity.

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