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Estonia

Main attractions

Old Tallinn, Estonia
Old Tallinn from St. Olaf's Church tower / Ilya Dobrych, Flickr. CC BY-SA 2.0

In spite of its small size Estonia offers a wide array of very interesting natural and man made landmarks. Highlights of Estonia are:

  • Medieval Tallinn - one of most amazing historical cities in this part of the world, built on and around a tall limestone cliff.
  • Medieval castles and churches - Christianity came here with fortified stone buildings - castles and churches. In Estonia are located some of the most impressive palaces in this part of Europe.

Natural landmarks

Valaste waterfall, Estonia
Valaste Waterfall / Hannu, Wikimedia Commons, public domain
  • Akste ants colony - Põlvamaa. Giant ant colony with 1500 interconnected ants nests. It is estimated that some 3 billion ants live here.
  • Ehalkivi - Lääne-Virumaa. Largest glacial erratic in Estonia, 930 m³ large (part above the soil), some 2500 tons heavy.
  • Jägala Waterfall - Harjumaa. Largest waterfall in Estonia, 8 m tall and more than 50 m wide screen of falling water.
  • Kaali Crater - Saaremaa. One of the most recent large impact craters on Earth, most likely formed some 7 600 years ago. The falling meteorite formed nine craters, Kaali is the largest one, 110 m in diameter and 22 m deep. Place of paganic sacrifices.
  • Keila Waterfall - Harjumaa. Large waterfall, 6 m tall and 60 - 70 m wide, divided into numerous smaller falls.
  • Tuhala Witch Well (Kata Nõiakaev) - Harjumaa. A well which at certain yeards in spring starts to flood - hundreds of litres of water flow over its rims every second. This is caused by the flooding of karst caves under the well. Site of legends.
  • Valaste Waterfall - Ida-Virumaa. Tallest waterfall in this part of Europe, with a single, 30 m tall drop.

Man made landmarks

Castles

Hermann Castle (Narva Castle), Estonia
Hermann Castle (Narva Castle) / Priit Tammets, Flickr, CC BY 2.0
  • Haapsalu Castle and Haapsalu St. Nicolas cathedral - Läänemaa. Ruins of medieval castle with enormous cathedral. This single naved church was built in 1260 in Romanesque - Gothic styles. Site of legends.
  • Hermann Castle (Narva Castle) - Ida-Virumaa. Massive, well preserved medieval castle, founded in 1256, present building constructed mainly in the 14th century. Its dominant is the 51 m high Long Hermann tower. Castle is facing the Ivangorod Fortress in Russian side.
  • Kuressaare Castle - Saaremaa. Episcopal castle. Time of construction is not known with certainty, most likely built in the 13th - 14th century. One of the best preserved and largest medieval castles in Baltics.
  • Toompea Castle - Harjumaa. Medieval castle of great historical significance to Estonia, built on the top of limestone tableland. First fortress was built here sometimes around 1050, later this fortress included whole medieval Tallinn. Now it houses Parliament of Estonia. Includes Pikk Hermann - 45.6 m tall watchtower, built in 1360 - 70 and in the 16th century.
  • Varbola Stronghold - Harjumaa. Prehistoric fortress with impressive drystone walls, up to 10 m high. Built mostly in the 10th - 12th centuries. Stronghold contained some 90 structures.

Palaces, manor houses

Taagepera Castle, Estonia
Taagepera Castle / Ivar Leidus, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0 EE
  • Alatskivi Palace - Tartumaa. Large Neogothic palace, built in 1876 - 1885.
  • Kadriorg Palace - Harjumaa. Well preserved Baroque palace with fine gardens around it. Construction started in 1718 upon the orders of Peter the Great, rebuilt by Nicholas I in 1827 and Konstantin Päts. Now serves as a gallery of art.
  • Palmse Manor - Lääne-Virumaa. Huge manor complex, built in 1697 - 1740. Restored not just manor house but also park and numerous other buildings in manor complex.
  • Taagepera Castle - Valgamaa. Unusual manor house, built in National Romanticism style in the early 20th century. Includes 40 m tall tower.

Medieval churches in Tallinn

  • St. Mary's Cathedral in Toompea (Dom Church) - Harjumaa. Oldest church in mainland Estonia. First stone church was built here sometimes around 1240, later extended.
  • St. Nicholas' Church (Niguliste Church) - Harjumaa. Large medieval church. First stone church built sometimes around 1230 - 1275, rebuilt in Gothic style in 1405 - 1420. Now has 105 m tall tower, contains interesting art values.
  • St. Olaf's Church - Harjumaa. Medieval church, the tallest church in the world in 1549 - 1625. Now the spire is 123.7 m tall. A church could have existed here already in the 12th century, first mentioned in written sources in 1267.

Medieval churches in Saaremaa

  • Karja Church - Saaremaa. Small medieval church, built in the late 13th - early 14th century. This small church is ornamented with amazing, mysterious symbols.
  • Pöide Church - Saaremaa. Medieval church, possibly the oldest one in Estonia. Chapel was built here in 1227, there are also murals from this time.
  • Valjala Church - Saaremaa. One of the oldest churches in Estonia, with parts of it built in 1227 - 1228. Contains remnants of medieval murals. Built in Romanesque and Gothic styles.
Kõpu Lighthouse, Estonia
Kõpu Lighthouse, Hiiumaa / Ilme Parik, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0

Other man made landmarks

  • Koguva village - Saaremaa. Extremely well preserved traditional village with some 100 historical buildings from 1880 - 1930.
  • Kõpu Lighthouse - Hiiumaa. One of the oldest lighthouses in the world in continuous use. Constructed in 1531, 36 m tall.
  • Piusa caves - Põlvamaa. Man made tunnels in Devonian sandstones, made in 1922 - 1966. Total length of caves exceeds 10 km. Largest winter colony of bats in East Europe.
  • Tallinn Old Town - Harjumaa. The oldest city in Estonia, developed on and around a limestone tableland - Toompea. Well preserved city walls which originally had 66 towers. Settled sice the 12th century at least, town status since 1248. Contains numerous valuable monuments of architecture.
  • Tallinn Town Hall - Harjumaa. The only intact Gothic town hall in Northern Europe, built in 1402 - 1404.

List of described attractions by counties

Estonia is divided into 15 counties (maakond).

Harjumaa
Hiiumaa
Ida-Virumaa
Jõgevamaa
ArrowKaali CraterImpact crater
Järvamaa
Läänemaa
Lääne-Virumaa
Põlvamaa
Pärnumaa
Raplamaa
Saaremaa
Tartumaa
Valgamaa
Viljandimaa
Võrumaa

Map of Estonia

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