Estonia is a small but hospitable and interesting country. Its territory surprisingly combines architectural monuments, historical sights and picturesque nature.
Who travels to Estonia and why
The history of this country is rather unusual, and to get to know it, it is worth visiting several museums. Be sure to visit the ruins of the monastery of St. Birgitta and the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, listen to the legends of Long German and Fat Margaret, and also go to the Tallinn City Hall.
Many national parks and reserves are open for nature lovers in Estonia, which are aimed at preserving rare animals and plants. You can take a walk in the Haanja Nature Park or the Vilsandi National Park, as well as watch the animals in the capital’s zoo. Yes, and the Valaste waterfall will amaze you with its beauty — especially if you go there in winter.
Cultural attractions and museums
Cathedral of Alexander Nevsky
This cathedral is the most famous Orthodox landmark in Tallinn. It was erected in 1900, and over the years of its existence, the fate of the temple has been called into question more than once.
In the 30s of the last century, they were going to demolish it, and in the 60s they wanted to convert it into a planetarium. However, the cathedral was saved. Now it is open to tourists and believers. Entrance is free for everyone, but it is forbidden to be inside the temple with an uncovered head.
Tallinn City Museum
The museum is located in the central part of Old Tallinn. Its rich exposition is dedicated to the culture and history of the city, starting from the 13th century. Here you can see collections of ceramics and glass, crystal and precious metals, furniture and weapons, and much more. Visitors can take a look at miniature models of the Old City, a collection of paintings and graphics.
The oldest theater in Estonia, which is located in Tartu, was founded as an amateur theater in 1870. His professional career began only 36 years later. Three troupes work here: ballet, drama and opera, as well as a large symphony orchestra at the disposal of the theater.
Due to this, Vanemuine’s repertoire is diverse: viewers can watch classical ballet, drama, modern dance, opera or a musical.
Monastery of Saint Birgitta
The ruins of the monastery are located in the vicinity of old Tallinn. It was built in the 15th century and was a late Gothic building typical of that time. During the Livonian War in 1577, the monastery was destroyed, and only its ruins have survived to this day, which have become a unique landmark of the city.
Every year, the day of the monastery is celebrated here: an open-air fair is held and concerts are held.
The museum complex includes the Narva Castle, the Art Gallery and the Northern Yard, where there are exhibits that tell about the history of Narva from the 13th to the 20th century.
The art gallery was opened in 1991, and it presents a collection of paintings, as well as lectures on the history of art, exhibitions of Estonian and foreign masters. In 2007, the Northern Yard began its work — now it is a recreated model of the city’s handicraft district of the 17th century.
Episcopal Castle of Kuressaare
The episcopal castle, which is the pride of the city of Kuressaare, has been completely preserved in its original medieval form. It is a square building with massive bastions and high watchtowers.
Historians believe that the fortress was built by the Danes in 1222, and from the middle of the 14th century the castle served as the residence of the Saare-Läänema bishop. Today, the building houses an art gallery and a museum, and various events are held on the territory of the fortress.
Estonian National Museum
Founded in Tartu in 1909 and dedicated to the folklore collector Jakob Hurt. The museum owns an art and scientific collection. The expositions show visitors the history of the Estonian people and the Finno-Ugric peoples of the Baltic group.
The permanent exhibition shows the daily life of the peasants and talks about folk festivals. The museum has an extensive library, which contains almost all publications published in Estonia, a huge photo archive and a collection of art objects.
Natural attractions and parks
Toila Oru Park
The park is located on the coast of the Gulf of Finland. In the 19th century, it belonged to the wealthy merchant Grigory Eliseev, who built a luxurious palace on this territory, which later became the residence of the President of Estonia.
During the Second World War, the castle was destroyed, but they did not begin to restore it. Only the fountains, which are still in operation today, underwent reconstruction. In Toila-Oru there is a grotto «Silver Stream», a park of wooden sculptures and a gazebo «Swallow’s Nest», which offers a beautiful view of the bay.
The opening of the zoo took place in 1939. Its territory is 89 hectares, where about 8,000 animals live. The main goal of the zoo is to take care of its inhabitants, as well as to preserve and increase rare species of animals.
Sightseeing tours are organized for children and adults, during which you can get to know all the inhabitants of the zoo. On its territory there are also playgrounds for young visitors, places for walking and picnic areas.
Viidumäe Nature Reserve
The reserve is located in the west of the island of Saaremaa. Its creation was aimed at preserving and studying relic and rare plant species. As for the fauna, animals typical of this island live here — squirrels, roe deer, badgers.
Vegetation is represented by 662 species. It will be very pleasant to take a walk in the reserve and breathe fresh and clean air, take a break from the hustle and bustle of the city and be alone with your thoughts.
The oldest park in Narva, where tourists and locals love to walk and relax. The dark garden is an example of garden and park architecture of the 19th century. It is located on the Victoria Bastion — the most powerful defensive structure in the city. Trees older than 100 years grow here, as well as a monument of 1853 — a cast-iron cross erected in memory of Russian soldiers who died during the Northern War.
The “Swedish lion” is worthy of special attention — a sculpture that symbolizes the memory of the battle of Russian and Swedish soldiers near Narva.
The highest waterfall in Estonia is located on the country’s server. Its height reaches 30 m, and the locals call it the «Red Tail». The fact is that in the spring, when snow and ice are actively melting and heavy rains are coming, a strong stream of water passes through the fields, and the water becomes reddish.
The waterfall is especially beautiful in winter: jets of water freeze and overlap each other, forming unusual and bizarre shapes.
Vilsandi National Park
The park is located on the western coast of the island of Saaremaa. Almost two thirds of the territory of 238 km2 is occupied by the sea with many bays and 160 islands. There are various kinds of birds and animals.
Vislandi National Park is also famous for the largest long-snouted seal rookery in Estonia. In terms of the abundance of representatives of the plant world, the park can be compared with a botanical garden — here are a variety of species of orchids, mosses and lichens.
Haanja Nature Park
The natural park is located on the Ha’an Hills. Its goal is to conduct scientific and conservation activities of nature in the highest region of the country. The deepest lake in Estonia, Rõuge Suurjärv (38 m), is located on the territory of the park.
Haanja Nature Park attracts outdoor enthusiasts. Here you can conquer the highest point of the hill, walk along the natural mountain path, and go skiing in winter, as the snow stays until spring.
The castle, built in the 13th century, rises on a hill in the center of Tallinn. It has several towers, one of which is called “Long German” and has a height of 50 m. Toompea Castle looks especially impressive in the evening, when the lights are turned on on the fortress.
Long Herman Tower
The tower of the Toompea castle got its name in honor of the Landsknecht Hermann, a brave warrior and conqueror of women’s hearts. From the height of this tower, sentinels surveyed the surroundings in order to notice the enemy from afar.
Today, an observation deck is equipped on its top, on the way to which it is necessary to overcome 215 steps. And at a depth of 15 m under the tower there are rooms where criminals sentenced to death were kept. The dungeons are also equipped with furnaces for heating the tower.
Fat Margaret Tower
The massive cannon tower was built 3 centuries later than the Toompea fortress. Its name is connected with the legend about the love of Landsknecht Herman and fisherwoman Margarita. The evil sorceress did not like their feeling, and she turned the guy and his beloved into two towers.
Another legend says that the girl was too thin to be considered beautiful at the time. And the sorceress told her that if you circle around a fat woman, then she will gain weight. However, Margarita was so carried away, taking on the desired forms, that she turned into a huge tower.
Tallinn City Hall
The Tallinn City Hall is the only Gothic city government building in Northern Europe that has survived to this day.
The most luxurious premises are located on the second floor:
- Merchants’ Hall, where the merchants of the city made deals,
- The Magistrate’s Hall, where city meetings were held,
- The burgher hall, where rich and noble citizens were received, as well as performances by musicians and actors traveling around the world.
The weaving manufactory is one of the symbols of Narva, and for a century and a half this enterprise was the largest city-forming enterprise, where most of the townspeople worked. Products of the Krenholm trademark are still widely known outside of Estonia. Bed linen of this manufactory is especially popular.
In summer, the Narva Museum organizes excursions to the factory. Visitors can look into the largest workshop to assess the scale of production, as well as get acquainted with local waterfalls.
The building was erected on the ruins of a medieval palace, and the exact date of its foundation is unknown — it is assumed that construction began in the 14th century, and in the 16th century the castle was expanded and corner towers were added.
Today, its building houses the parish school. The castle has a memorial room dedicated to the navigator Kruzenshtern, who was the owner of this estate, as well as other owners of Kiltsi. Now excursions and events are held here in memory of the great traveler.
Architectural monument of the city of Pärnu. In the XIV century, the city flourished and played an important role in trade, so it was decided to build a fortress wall with several towers. Only one has survived to this day. It was lined with red brick inside and out, which explains its name.
Today, the tower building houses an art gallery and a craft workshop where you can buy handmade souvenirs. And every year the Hanseatic Fair and other events take place in the courtyard.