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Some impressions of Estonia#

Introduction #

Estonia is bordered to the north by the Gulf of Finland, to the west by the Baltic Sea, to the south by Latvia and to the east by Russia (338.6 km). Across the Baltic Sea lies Sweden in the west, and Finland in the north. Estonia has an area of about 45.000 km2 (this includes thousands of small islands).

The territory of Estonia has been inhabited since at least 6,500 BC, with Finno-Ugric speakers. Following centuries of successive Teutonic, Danish, Swedish, and Russian rule, Estonians became independent in 1918. During World War II, Estonia was occupied by the Soviet Union in 1940, then Nazi Germany a year later and again annexed by the Soviets in 1944. Its independence was restored (similar to Latvia and Lithuania) in 1991.

Ethnic Estonians are a Finnic people, sharing close cultural ties with their northern neighbour, Finland, and the official language, Estonian, is a Finno-Ugric language closely related to Finnish and the Sami languages, and distantly to Hungarian.

The trip- June 2016 #

Entering Estonia from Latvia we first vist the old university town of Tartu, then the Lahemaa National Park on the coast with the village of Käsmu, and go for an extended hike that ends in 2 hours of rain soaking us to the bone, as if we had gone into the sea with all our clothing and rucksacks on. We recuperate in a wodka factory that has been turned into a nice hotel, Vihula manor. En route to Tallin we visit an estate converted into a museum (Palmse) and go on a nice hike in the swamp of Viru Raba. We reach Tallin (the former Reval) in the afternoon and have almost two days to explore it.

Tartu#

Tartu
Main sqare with city hall and monument if front.
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Tartu
Monument.
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Tartu
The leaning house of Tartu.
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Tartu
Main church.
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Tartu
The founder of the University.
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Tartu
Fortification on hill.
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Tartu
Fortification on hill.Part of it has been restored and houses e.g. the library of the university.
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0

It was a good idea that we had a good local meal before setting out on a major hike along the coast of the sea near the village of Käsmu. There was not sun, ok, but when reached the endpoint of our hike it started to rain, no to pour, and we had a long way back!

Laheema
Entering the gasthaus.
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Laheema
We are expected.
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Laheema
Our two waitresses.
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Laheema
Hiking along the seashore.
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Laheema
Hiking along the seashore.
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Laheema
Hiking along the seashore.
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Laheema
Wild roses.
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Laheema
Hiking along the seashore.
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Laheema
Our guide tries to cheer us (wet to the bone) up by asking us to measure the rock: It is sitting in the middle of the forest, no mountains nearby. Clearly it must have been transported here by a glacier during an ice-age.
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0

We are happy to get warm and fed again at Vihula manor: The earliest references to this estate go back to 1501. During much of its history, it has belonged to different Baltic German aristocratic families. During the Soviet occupation of Estonia, the manor housed a collective farm. The present main building dates from after 1892, when the earlier house was destroyed in a fire. The weather has improved so it is nice to go for walk around the small lake that is part of the estate.

Vihula manor
Part of the estate.
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Vihula manor
Main buildings of estate.
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Vihula manor
Evening walk.
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Vihula manor
Evening walk.
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Vihula manor
Almost confusing mirror images in the small lake.
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0

Next day we first have a glimpse of an estate Sagadi, and then leisurely tour the Palmse estate that has been turned into a museum, both inside the main house, the other buildings and the impressive garden.

Sagadi Estate
Sagadi Estate.
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Sagadi Estate
In this spot a tree was planted in 1794 in memory of former members of the family.
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Palmse Manor
Palmse Manor.
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Palmse Manor
Palmse Manor.
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Palmse Manor
Palmse Manor.
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Palmse Manor
Palmse Manor.
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Palmse Manor
Palmse Manor.
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Palmse Manor
Palmse Manor.
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Palmse Manor
Palmse Manor.
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Palmse Manor
Estates often had their own wodka distilleries!
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0

After visting the estates and before driving to Tallin we go through one more of the many beautiful areas of swamps and bogs one finds in all Baltic countries. A good part of our trail is on wooden planks. Without them walking would be impossible.

Viru Rabu bog
Viru Rabu bog.
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Viru Rabu bog
Viru Rabu bog.
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Viru Rabu bog
Viru Rabu bog.
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0

Tallinn#

Tallinn was founded in 1248, but the earliest human settlements are over 5,000 years old. Especially from the 14th to the 16th century, the citys importance grew as part of the Hanseatic League. Tallinn's Old Town is one of the best preserved medieval cities in Europe. Itis listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Tallinn has the highest number of startups per person in Europe and is a birthplace of many international companies including Skype. The city was European Capital of Culture in 2011 (together with Turku, Finland.

Tallin is considered by many as the most beautiful Baltic city. This is also partyl due to the fact that a substantial hill (rare in Baltic countires) is part of the city, with the main cathedral on the top and the old merchant city below. It is also the only capital city in the Baltics that is visited by many cruise ships.

Tallin
View over the lower part of Tallinn from Toompea hill.
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Tallin
Pikk Hermann or Tall Hermann, a tower of the Toompea Castle.
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Tallin
Tall Hermann.
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Tallin
Kik in the Kök Defense Tower, part of Toompea Castle.
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Tallin
Maiden tower, part of Toompea Castle. The only surviving Defense tower, first mentioned already in 1373.
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Tallin
Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, an orthodox cathedral.
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Tallin
The cathedral as indication of Russian influence is not liked by all.
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Tallin
Top of cathedral. Photo: pixabay.com, under PD
Tallin
Shop next to St. Mary church.
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Tallin
St. Mary church.
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Tallin
Inside the church.
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Tallin
Inside the church.
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Tallin
Descending from Toompea hill, St. Nikolai church comes into view.
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Tallin
St Nikolai church.
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Tallin
In main square, sign showing marzipan shop.
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Tallin
In the shop.
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Tallin
Famous old pharmacy.
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Tallin
In pharmacy.
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Tallin
In pharmacy.
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Tallin
What does a dried frog cure???.
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Tallin
Walking through the oldest parts of Tallinn.
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Tallin
Walking through the oldest parts of Tallinn.
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Tallin
Huge old fashioned restaurant.
Photo: Hermann Maurer, 2016, under CC BY-SA 3.0
Tallin
Skyline of Tallinn from the sea. Photo: pixabay.com, under PD