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Saaremaa, Estonia


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The island of Saaremaa in the Gulf of Riga, Estonia, and its capital Kuressaare; history, unique geological features, medieval architecture.

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Saaremaa, Estonia

  1. 1. Saaremaa, the largest island off the West coast of Estonia Saaremaa is the largest island off the West coast of Estonia. With its windmills, medieval churches, limestone cliffs and rare wildlife – this is one of the most attractive destinations in Estonia. SAAREMAA ISLAND : A haven of tranquillity and a meteor crater.
  2. 2. <ul><li>Saarema and Muhu are situated in the Gulf of Riga . </li></ul><ul><li>Most of the 40 000 inhabitants work in agriculture, mainly dairy farming and meat production, as well as crops and grain growing. </li></ul>
  3. 3. <ul><li>Saaremaa and Muhu , are connected by a land bridge. The main town is </li></ul><ul><li>KURESSAARE . </li></ul>
  4. 4. Most of the island is flat. 56% of Saaremaa is covered by forest.
  5. 5. <ul><li>The northern coast has high coastal escarpments: the Panga cliffs. </li></ul>
  6. 7. The Panga Pank (cliffs) on the northern shore of Saaremaa reach to a maximum of 21 meters high.
  7. 8. Kuressaare episcopal castle
  8. 10. <ul><li> </li></ul>The most famous monument in the city of Kuressaare is a wonderful episcopal castle , where Saarema museum is located.
  9. 11. <ul><li>Kuressaare Episcopal Castle is unique in being the only intact medieval fortress in the Baltic countries. The late Gothic dolomite was built with the purpose to house the bishop when he was visiting Kuressaare. </li></ul>
  10. 17. <ul><li>The building is a convent-type castle with a square main plan around an inner courtyard, and the oldest part, the Tower of Tall Hermann, is thought to date back to 1260. </li></ul><ul><li>Tall Herman watchtower </li></ul>
  11. 18. <ul><li>The main part of the building was probably started at around 1338 and the construction lasted for 40 years . </li></ul>
  12. 19. <ul><li>The castle was built of local dolomite marble and was surrounded by a rectangular outwork, a moat and a rampart. </li></ul>
  13. 21. <ul><li>The bishop’s balcony </li></ul>
  14. 27. The view from the castle towards the sea
  15. 28. In the center of the building from tooled dolomite bricks is a square courtyard, which is on the second and third floors surrounded by a closed cloister.
  16. 30. Convent’s chapel
  17. 31. <ul><li>The castle is now part of the Regional Museum of Saaremaa , therefore housing several exhibitions about the history of the region. </li></ul>
  18. 34. Saaremaa Opera Days <ul><li>Each year an opera festival takes place against the castle’s wall. </li></ul><ul><li>The LATVIAN NATIONAL OPERA ( founded by director NEEME JÄRVI ) is the main guest. </li></ul>
  19. 40. Kuressaare (pop. 16 500)
  20. 41. In written records Kuressaare (Arensburg) market town was first mentioned in 1424
  21. 42. <ul><li>The central part of Kuressaare is an architecturally protected area . In the historic old town there are mainly one-storied limestone houses of the classicistic style from the 18th-19th century, once owned by merchants and noblemen. </li></ul>
  22. 44. The House of the Nobility or Knighthood Building was built at the end of the 18th Century and today, it accommodates the County Government of Saaremaa.
  23. 45. <ul><li>The Town Hall was built between 1653 and 1670 </li></ul>
  24. 46. Kuressaare town hall Northern Baroque style, with 2 stone lions at main door
  25. 47. <ul><li>The Town Hall now houses a tourist information centre and an art gallery and occasionally serves as a venue for concerts. </li></ul>
  26. 51. <ul><li>Old Fire Brigade station </li></ul><ul><li>Now a pub-restaurant </li></ul>
  27. 52. Café Classic in the center of Kuressaare
  28. 55. <ul><li>The Wildenberg Café , 1 Tallinna Street </li></ul>
  29. 57. <ul><li>Inside </li></ul>
  30. 58. <ul><li>Handmade chocolates </li></ul>
  31. 59. The Weighhouse
  32. 60. <ul><li>Vaekoda ( The Weighhouse ) stands at the central square, just opposite the Town Hall. The Weighhouse was built in 1666 to keep the public scales in there, while the central square served as the market place. </li></ul><ul><li>This is the only building of that type having survived in Estonia . </li></ul>
  33. 61. The main characteristic of the small two story limestone building is in the strict symmetry in the architecture.
  34. 62. <ul><li>St. Lawrence's church </li></ul><ul><li>Suffered 3 fires before the present day reconstruction </li></ul>
  35. 64. <ul><li>St. Nicholas orthodox church ( Püha Nikolai Kirik ) </li></ul><ul><li>Ancient trees shade the late classical Orthodox Church of St. Nicholas with its two cupolas, first built in 1790. </li></ul>
  36. 67. <ul><li>The neoclassical building was designed by Luigi Rusca, an architect from St. Petersburg, and built in 1820-27 </li></ul>
  37. 68. <ul><li>Kauba, 1 </li></ul>
  38. 70. Kauba street
  39. 72. <ul><li>Vanalinna hotel , Kauba </li></ul>
  40. 74. Chameleon café lounge, bank and shop on Kaube street
  41. 76. <ul><li> </li></ul>
  42. 77. <ul><li>The residential area has a suburban charm due to the coloured wooden villas. </li></ul>
  43. 82. <ul><li>Antique shop at Lossi street </li></ul>
  44. 84. <ul><li>Tea house </li></ul>
  45. 86. <ul><li>Kuressare University center </li></ul>A university office was established in the city of Kuressaare on Saaremaa in 1993 for regional development courses and courses for the owners of the first private small and medium-sized enterprises.
  46. 87. <ul><li>The Aaviks´museum – museum of musical language and the language of music: Johannes Aavik (1880-1973) was a distinguished linguist and language researcher who discovered phonetic homogeneity, while his cousin, Joosep Aavik, (1899-1898) was a music teacher, organist, conductor  and composer. </li></ul>
  47. 88. <ul><li>Kuressaare Kultuurivara (cultural centre) </li></ul><ul><li>organises concerts and art exhibitions </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>
  48. 89. <ul><li>Ferrum Department Store </li></ul><ul><li>Shopping Center </li></ul>
  49. 90. At the open air Market
  50. 92. <ul><li>Mugs in the market </li></ul>
  51. 93. Kuressare at night
  52. 95. <ul><li>Arensburg hotel </li></ul>
  53. 97. <ul><li>Hotel Grandrose </li></ul><ul><li>http :// </li></ul>
  54. 99. <ul><li>The Ekesparre pension was a favourite among Estonian cultural figures in the 1920s. </li></ul><ul><li>After the end of the war, the former pension house went to the local Soviet police department. </li></ul><ul><li>In 1996, the pension was renamed Hotel Lossi . </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>Ekesparre Residence Hotel 1908
  55. 103. The Lossi Hotel is located in front of the Bishop’s Castle
  56. 104. <ul><li>Villa Vallin </li></ul><ul><li>Recently renovated wooden house </li></ul>
  57. 105. <ul><li>Restaurant/ Bar </li></ul><ul><li>VeskiTavern </li></ul><ul><li>The windmill was built in 1899 </li></ul>
  58. 107. <ul><li>Resort Club (Kuursaal) </li></ul><ul><li>The renovated Resort Club in the park was built in the 19th century and now houses a café, a bar and a concert hall. </li></ul>
  59. 108. In summer, concerts take place in the square garden in front of the Kuursaal
  60. 110. Smoking sauna
  61. 111. <ul><li>The growing number of spas has returned the town's former reputation to a resort town. It is pleasant to walk and bike in Kuressaare as the town has become more pleasant in recent years, especially the beach promenade whitch is great for romantic walks. </li></ul>
  62. 112. The beach
  63. 114. The Järve beach Nice sandy beach about 15km from Kuressaare. About 8-kilometre long shore area is famous for its sand beach and dunes
  64. 115. Panga cliffs walk
  65. 116. <ul><li>In front of the Panga cliffs walk there is another cliff directly under the water that forms almost a perfect semicircle, and against which the waves break . </li></ul>
  66. 117. <ul><li>Kuressaare Town park </li></ul>
  67. 119. Sörve lighthouse Sorve lighthouse
  68. 120. The Sõrve lighthouse is located in Sääre at the tip of the peninsula. The current structure dates from 1960 and is 52m high. There have been several previous wooden and stone lighthouses at this location.
  69. 121. Kaali crater , Estonia’s most unique geological feature.
  70. 122. The Kaali meteorite crater is the result of a meteorite impact possibly in 700 BC. It is about 110 meters wide and 20 meters deep. The crater walls are covered with trees and vegetation. A path around the rim of the crater allows you to observe it from all sides.
  71. 125. This event also played a role in the Estonian mythology. The former inhabitants of the island knew it as the &quot;holy lake &quot;, and archeological excavations show that this was the place of immolation for a period of many centuries. Kaali crater has an important place in Finnish mythology, and some viewed it as fabulous Thule that was described bu Pytheas, the greek explorer. The explosion that created these craters, scientists believe, could occur sometime in the Holocene. The explosion was apparently comparable to that which occurred after an explosion in Hiroshima.
  72. 127. Lake Kaali diameter varies from 30 to 60 meters
  73. 129. <ul><li>The Kaali Meteorite is the last (+/- 7500 years ago) giant iron meteorite fallen to a densely inhabited area in the world. </li></ul>
  74. 130. Angla Windmills
  75. 131. <ul><li>Just to the north of Karja are the five Angla windmills . </li></ul><ul><li>These typical Estonian style windmills are a landmark on Saaremaa. </li></ul>Angla Windmills
  76. 132. <ul><li>They are almost the only ones remaining on the island; in the mid 19th century, there were about 500 in active use, only 30 of which remain to this day. </li></ul>
  77. 135. Built on stones and standing on a high post, the oldest type of windmills of Europe is characteristic of the West-Estonian islands
  78. 137. In winter
  79. 139. <ul><li>Churches of Saaremaa </li></ul>
  80. 140. Valjala church
  81. 142. <ul><li>Saint Martin's church of Valjala </li></ul><ul><li>the oldest building in Saaremaa. </li></ul><ul><li>A unique feature of the church is that the tower is located on one side near the altar. </li></ul>
  82. 143. <ul><li>Deriving from the first half of the 13th century, the church has been built in the Romanesque and Gothic styles. </li></ul>
  83. 144. Concerts often take place here.
  84. 146. Karja Kirik (St. Catherine’s church)
  85. 147. St. Catherine in Karja is a towerless gothic church, built in the late 13th or early 14th century. It’s the sculptural decoration that makes the church a real jewel. Its portals, bosses and vaulting supports are decorated with superb High-Gothic stone decor.
  86. 152. Relief of the Golgotha scene
  87. 155. <ul><li>Magic ceiling marks: </li></ul><ul><li>three-legged triskele , a devil that looks between its legs. </li></ul>
  88. 156. Kihelkonna Church Kihelkonna Church Kihelkonna Church The altarpiece, carved in 1591, has survived remarkably well. The tower is in fact the highest point in Saaremaa. Kihelkonna Church (13th century )
  89. 157. The first bell-tower was built during the 17th century, and is located some hundred meters away from the church. It is the Baltic countries’ only separately built and still standing bell-tower.
  90. 162. <ul><li>Lake Karu – Karujärv ( Bear lake ) </li></ul><ul><li>the oldest lake on Saaremaa, it appeared here almost 8000 years ago. </li></ul>
  91. 163. <ul><li>Lake Karu (3.3 km 2 ), located in the forests of the West-Saaremaa upland, with its sinuous coastline and numerous small islands, is considered to be one of the most beautiful lakes in Saaremaa. </li></ul>
  92. 164. From Saarema to Muhu
  93. 165. <ul><li>Saaremaa is joined by a causeway to Muhu , the neighbouring island. </li></ul>
  94. 167. Muhu <ul><li>Muhu is Estonia's third largest island. </li></ul><ul><li>There are several sites of interest, including: </li></ul><ul><li>Liiva Church </li></ul><ul><li>Koguva ( an old village) </li></ul><ul><li>Eemu Tuulik windmill and shop </li></ul>
  95. 169. Symbol of Muhu , this sign welcomes visitors to the island.
  96. 170. Liiva church (end of XIII cent.)
  97. 172. <ul><li>Liiva ' s gothic style fort-church. </li></ul><ul><li>This church also has no tower and was built between 1267-1280. </li></ul>
  98. 174. Church has no tower and was built between 1267-1280.
  99. 176. Koguva
  100. 178. <ul><li>The village of Koguva is the best-preserved village ensemble in Estonia (100 buildings, some 20 permanent inhabitants). </li></ul>
  101. 180. <ul><li>Streets with stone fences, log houses with cane roofs, old trees and draw wells with poles. </li></ul>
  102. 182. The oldest building of Koguva - the barn of the Andruse Farm, situated in the center of the village
  103. 193. The museum is situated in the heart of the village. Tooma farmstead , with all outbuildings and farm equipment, is the heart of the museum.
  104. 195. <ul><li>Additionally, an old village school dating back to the mid-19th century and a display of ethnographic textiles are exhibited in the office building of the museum at Koguva Välja. </li></ul>
  105. 196. <ul><li>Traditional Muhu shoes </li></ul>
  106. 198. <ul><li>The Yellow rattle (Rhinanthus osiliensis) Is exclusive to Saaremaa (its most famous endemic species ) and the island’s symbolic flower. </li></ul>
  107. 200. <ul><li>Rhinanthus osiliensis </li></ul>
  108. 201. <ul><li>Long warm autumns, mild winters, late cool springs, strong winds, long sunny periods and low precipitation are characteristic of this region. </li></ul>
  109. 202. <ul><li>Kuressaare International Airport serves flights to and from Tallinn, Gotland, Stockholm, Riga and Helsinki. </li></ul>
  110. 203. <ul><li>The airport operates with very small planes (7 -18 seaters); the service is sometimes suspended due to high winds. </li></ul>
  111. 204. <ul><li>Saab 340 </li></ul>
  112. 205. <ul><li>Saaremaa Shipping Company </li></ul><ul><li>A/S Saaremaa ferry from Virtsu to Saaremaa </li></ul>
  113. 206. <ul><li>&quot; Scania &quot; sails from Ventspils to Mõntu (Saaremaa island). Built in 1972 and purchased by “Saaremaa Laevakompanii“ in 2000. </li></ul>
  114. 210. <ul><li>Links: </li></ul><ul><li>http :// </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>Sources: </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>© Mário Ricca, 2009