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Cultural sightseeing in Estonia. What to visit - museums, temples, castles and palaces

Estonia is a northern sea country with a unique cultural heritage. The winding streets of its cities still retain the medieval spirit. Magnificent castles, palaces and cathedrals fascinate tourists from all over the world. Every year, lovers of history and connoisseurs of architectural beauties visit the country. Most of the guests want to go to the capital, Tallinn. Its historical part unites the upper and lower regions. On the Toompea hill is located Vyshgorod which is surrounded by a massive fortress. The main attraction of the upper part of the city is a sample of medieval architecture, the Toompea Castle where the Estonian Parliament sits today. There is also the grand cathedral of Alexander Nevsky and the Dome Church where the outstanding military commander Pontus De la Gardi is buried.
Estonia resorts attract numerous travellers by their interesting architecture and rich historic heritage. Magnificent cathedrals, elegant churches, …
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Lower Tallinn is distinguished by a spacious Town Hall Square. The building of the Town Hall standing on the square is as old as the city itself. Its spire is adorned with the famous weather vane in the form of the figure of the warrior “Old Thomas”, considered to be the symbolic guard of Tallinn. Among the wall dividing the Upper and Lower City, there are two old towers which standout. During battles, artillery guns were hidden in Kiek in de Kök. Tolstaya Margarita formerly served as a prison house. Now it is employed for the exposition of the Maritime Museum of Estonia. In the lower part of the city, there are several original architectural monuments, among them “Three Sisters” and also, “Father and Son”.
The oldest city in the Baltics, Tartu, is considered to be the cradle of science. In the early 17th century, one of the first universities in Europe was opened here. The elegant main building of the University of Tartu built in the traditions of classicism, crowns the architecture of the city. One of the intriguing places on the campus is the attic where former students were imprisoned in the past centuries. Today on its walls, doors and ceiling you can see the drawings and inscriptions left by them. All tourist routes in Tartu go through Inglisild or “Angel Bridge” which bears the Latin inscription that reads: “Leisure Renews the Powers”. Local students believe that if you walk along the bridge with a bated breath, then your wish will come true. Copyright
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The city of Narva located at the intersection of trade routes, was historically a European trade center. Today, this large city by Estonian standards has become one of the popular holiday destinations for residents of neighboring countries. The Hermann Castle, characterized by “Convent building” type of construction, is of interest to tourists. The castle includes four wings and towers. Its complex includes the castle of the Livonian Order and the belt of defensive structures built by the Danes. The main tower of the fortress is the Pikk Hermann, the symbol of Narva. The Narva Museum is located within Hermann Castle. Most of its exhibits are devoted to the history of the city. The exhibition halls are located in the main tower. Concerts and other cultural events are often organized in the museum.
The port city of Pärnu is the “summer capital” and the cultural center of Estonia. It unites the historical part and the romantic seaside region. Among the heterogeneous architecture of the city, medieval buildings are seen adjoining with elegant resort villas. There are also houses of the Soviet period together with modern buildings. The St. Elizabeth’s Church is located in Pärnu. It was built with the money of the Russian Empress. The building is designed in baroque style with elements of Gothic Revival. Since the beginning of the 20th century, the best organ in Estonia is played in it. The remains of fortifications were preserved in the city. Today, they now house cafes and observation platforms. These include the Tallinn Gate, Munamägi Hill and Valjala hill or rampart.
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Estonia is famous for its numerous castles and fortresses, most of which belonged to the Livonian Order. The Episcopal Castle is the only medieval structure preserved in its original form. It was completed in the middle of the 14th century on the island of Saaremaa. Today there is a museum and an art gallery in the fortress. In the city of Rakvere, you will find the Rakvere castle. Following the aftermath of the Polish-Swedish war in the 17th century when the Castle was left in ruins, mining of rocks was conducted in it. The fortress was reconstructed in the 20th century and is now accessible for visiting.
Estonia guide chapters 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

Fantastic City Tours and Excursions in Estonia

Reference information
Map of all art museums
Art galleries in Estonia
♥   Art museum 'Adamson-Eric Museum' Tallinn. On the map   Photos
♥   Art museum 'Kadriorg Art Museum' Tallinn. On the map   Photos
♥   Art museum 'Kumu Art Museum' Tallinn. On the map   Photos
♥   Art museum 'Mikkel Museum' Tallinn. On the map   Photos
♥   Art museum 'Niguliste Museum' Tallinn. On the map   Photos
Map of all palaces
Palaces in Estonia
♥   Palace 'Kadriorg Palace of Peter the Great' Tallinn. On the map   Photos
♥   Palace 'Toompea Palace' . On the map   Photos
Country maps Maps of Estonia
Car rental on Car rental in Estonia
Map of cities Cities map of Estonia
Map of sights Map of sights in Estonia

Preferred to Open 9 New Hotels in 2022

In September 2022, the Sommerro hotel in Oslo will start operating in a carefully restored 1930s Art Deco building. This building is a true landmark of Frogner, a historic neighborhood of the Norwegian capital. A multi-million-dollar renovation carefully turned the largest preservation project in Norway into a modern hotel with 231 rooms, including 56 residences. Preferred will open five more hotels in 2022, namely, The Wall Street Hotel in New York, Amrit Ocean Resort & Residences on Singer Island (Florida, the US), TOA Hotel & Spa in Zanzibar, Pendry hotel in Washington, and Pendry Park City hotel in Utah. Read this


Top cultural sites of Estonia: monuments, theaters and churches

Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, Tallinn

Location on the map:     Interesting facts:
» The five-domed cathedral is located on a small hill and is seen from afar. The Alexander Nevsky Cathedral was built and blessed by the bishop in 1990. The wonder-working icon of the Mother of God was delivered for the ceremony.
» The allocations of the Synod were not sufficient for the construction. The missing amount was collected in Rus. The sacred house is a reminder of saving royal figures after the train accident.
» The ethereal defender of Emperor Alexander III was Prince Nevsky. The cathedral was named after him.
» There are gilded iron crosses above the domes. There are mosaic panels on the facade. There is stained glass in the windows. 11 temple bells weigh over 26 tons. They were made in St. Petersburg. Ringers toll before the church service. The ringing bells are heard throughout the district.
» The interior is decorated according to the Biblical sketches of architect Preobrazhensky. There are many mosaics and icons inside. The wooden gilded iconostasis occupies the central wall of the cathedral.
» In the 30s, the government decided to demolish the cathedral but the abbot, the brother of the Estonian President, defended it.
» The cathedral was built in the likeness of temples of the 17th century and accommodates 1.5 thousand people.

Church of St. Charles, Tallinn

Location on the map:   Interesting facts: » The Church of St. Charles (Kaarli) was found many centuries ago, in 1670. It was named after the Swedish King, Charles XI.
» It was restored on donations from parishioners in the early 19th century. The city population grew at that time, so there was a necessity in constructing the new House of God.
» It has two towers with spires. The building is made of monolithic limestone slabs and impresses with its size. The church resembles the Latin cross with its shape. According to the project, sculptures should have been installed in the niches but there are no sculptures now.
» There are arched windows on the exterior facade. There is a German-made clock (1990) in the round window above the door. One church bell has been preserved since the construction of the building.
» The wooden ceiling is upheld by brick arches. So, there are no partition pillars, so the room seems to be spacious.
» There is an organ with 81 tones which lets play classical and sacred music for 1500 listeners.
» The first Estonian fresco of 1870 has a historical value. At the bottom of the altar, there is a painted composition of blessing Christ consisted of 3 parts.

Estonian Maritime Museum, Tallinn

Location on the map:     Interesting facts:
» In the Maritime Museum, you can learn more about the secrets of the port service, equipment of seaworthy ships, artifacts found on the sea bottom, and the history of voyages. The Museum is located in the Fat Margaret Tower and in the hangar of the Air Harbour on the sea coast.
» You can observe the entire Tallinn port from the upper level of the tower. At the 4th level, there are tracking devices, the collection of sea navigation maps, fishing traps, archival documents and pictures, ships’ models, and the collection of naval mines.
» In Lennusadam (the harbor), you can see real seaplanes, working warships, and the oldest schooner in the country. The steam icebreaker (1914), the biggest exhibit, is moored to the berth. Tourists can taste dishes from the ship galley.
» The remains of the old ship that was constructed without any nails at all will also attract attention. You can inspect the “Lembit” Submarine from the inside.
» One of the collections pays tribute to “Estonia” Ferry sinking in 1994. Its model is kept here.
» You can see the records of bottom researches made by the robot on big screens in the Interactive Underwater Archaeology Museum. The excursion will end with the visiting of the huge aquarium.

Kadriorg Palace, Tallinn

Location on the map:     Interesting facts:
» The park complex on the hill slope has a total area of 70 hectares. It was found several centuries ago (at the beginning of the 18th century) as the summer cottage of Peter the Great, as a gift to his wife. As the legend says, Peter I placed the first stone into the foundation of the building himself.
» Now, there is a museum at the 2nd level of Peter’s House. His personal belongings are kept here.
» The park has preserved its landscapes since that time: small ponds with fountains, a flower garden, Swan Pond with black swans, an island, and a gazebo.
» The name “Kadriorg” came from Kadri, which is the Estonian name for Catherine.
» Exhibits from the Estonian Art Museum made by the Italian architect are kept in the palace. The palace accommodates almost 200 people.
» The part of the facade protrudes and takes the whole height of the building. In the wall of the lobby, there is a memorial plaque with the picture of the Russian state symbols and the anchor, as well as with the Latin text about the start of construction.
» The interior of palace rooms (the White Hall) is decorated with moldings and azure columns. There are plafonds with flower decorations on the ceiling.
» The entire territory is decorated with sculptures and monuments to culture figures, the rosary, and the Japanese Garden.

St Mary Cathedral, Tallinn

Location on the map:     Interesting facts:
» At the beginning of the 13th century, a small wooden church named after the Most Holy Mother of God was built in Old Tallinn.
» The exterior of the building has changed for hundreds of years. The burials of famous people with verses in their honor have been preserved.
» The building combines different architectural styles. Only the wooden part of the altar has remained untouched. There is the painting of crucified Jesus above it.
» The spruce ceiling above the honorable bishop’s seat in the long hall enhances the sound of the preacher’s voice. There are carved graphic compositions (wooden arms) of famous families on the walls.
» In the organ gallery, there is a 47-tone mechanism made by the German master in 1878. It sounds incredible due to the good acoustics in the gallery.
» When Catherine II ruled, the bell tower was built above the cathedral. You can climb up the stairs to reach it.
» The octagonal carcass ends with the gallery in the form of the arch. There is a vane attached to the sphere above it. It is crowned with a gilded flower that resembles a lily, the symbol of the Virgin Mary’s virginity.
» The white stone Dome Cathedral is the residence of the bishop of the Evangelic Lutheran Church.

St. Nicholas Church, Tallinn

Location on the map:     Interesting facts:
» The temple was named after the patron of sailors, St. Nicholas. German merchants found it in the 8th century. The room was used for commercial transactions.
» The house was being built for hundreds of years. In the 14th century, a western tower was built. The walls of the church had defended the building from enemies’ attacks for a while.
» During the Second World War, the building was partially destroyed due to the air raid. Some medieval pieces of art were saved.
» After the war, the building was being reconstructed. The spire was restored. Years later, it collapsed in coincidences.
» Former Lutheran St. Nicholas Church started to serve as a museum. It houses artifacts from several churches.
» The part of the preserved painting “The Dance of Death” is especially valuable. It is displayed in St. Anthony Chapel.
» The building has amazing acoustics, so organ concerts and church choirs are often held here. You can learn more about the way of life in ancient Tallinn by visiting exhibitions held in the Niguliste Museum.
» You can see a range of gravestones in the territory of the church. One of them dates back to 1520.
» The building of the church was even shown in several films. The church is not used for masses.

St. Olaf Church, Tallinn

Location on the map:     Interesting facts:
» As the preserved archives say, the church was built in 1267 as a Catholic construction and belonged to nuns from the convent.
» The building was struck by lightning 8 times. It was on fire during a thunderstorm several times. After the fire in the middle of the 19th century, its area reduced to 123 m.
»  The spire served as a pointer for sailors.
» The King of Norway was canonized for his godly deeds here. St. Olaf Church is named after him.
» The building was reconstructed in the 15th century. It started to look like a basilica with rectangular pillars.
» The Chapel of the Virgin Mary was built in a hundred years. There is a spiral staircase leading to the observation platform. 232 steps have different heights, which hinders the ascent.
» 1950 has seen the consolidation of seven religious communities under the arches of the temple.
» The church is distinguished by intersecting carcass arches that make a geometric pattern of stars. There is the St. Olaf bas-relief behind the altar. There is a preserved slab that reminds of the public figure and instigator of the construction.
» The Biblical words are engraved on the symbolic grave of Christ. Church services are held here.

Culture and monuments in popular cities of Estonia

You will find a huge number of observation platforms in Tallinn. Make sure you visit at least one as the city looks especially beautiful from a bird's-eye. One of the observation areas is located near Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, and another popular observation deck is located next to Dome Church. St. Olaf’s Church is another important religious attraction. The beautiful building was built in the middle of the 13th century. The church was always famous for its wonderfully decorated rooms, but … Read more
A walk along the Alley of Sculptures will turn to one of the most impressive experiences for the city guests. The alley was established in 2001. Parnu was the first city for the World First International Sculpture Day to take place The alley is figured with the best statuary artworks of Estonian, Japanese, American, French and Lithuanian artists. Another remarkable landmark of the tourist destination is the Tallinn Gate being a surviving part of a medieval fortifying construction. The … Read more
Next to the Town Hall Square is an interesting architectural structure, the Falling house. The building is tilted immediately after construction, but local residents have decided not to destroy it. Now the construction is carefully tended and restored. In a couple of minutes’ walk from the Falling house there is the Museum of Modern Art, which regularly hosts cultural events of different formats. The exposition of this popular museum changes several times in a month; works of beginning … Read more
The atmosphere of medieval life was recreated on the castle grounds along with several craft workshops. There is even a pharmacy where you can buy medicines made from natural ingredients. The castle houses an interesting historical museum, which presents many thematic rooms. Visitors can see exhibitions dedicated to the history of the city, as well as the castle's history and peculiarities. One of the most interesting is the one devoted to the life and craft traditions of the indigenous … Read more

Estonia map of cultural and historical sites

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