Kuressaare, the Westernmost Town in Estonia
In a few words: a well-restored medieval castle, beautiful working windmills, and homemade beer.
Located on the coast of the Gulf of Riga, Kuressaare is the capital city of Saaremaa Island. This gorgeous town, the westernmost in Estonia, has a population of around 15,000 people. One day is just enough to explore its beauties, but feel free to spend more time there if you get the chance.
Although Kuressaare first appears on a map in the year 1154, the first written document that mentions it dates back to 1381. Throughout its existence, it has been called by many names, such as the German-like Arensburg and Kurassarellinn (until 1917), and the Soviet-like Kingissepp (between 1952 and 1988). In 1990, Kuressaare became the first Estonian city to restore its self-governing status.
Nowadays, Kuressaare is best known for its intact and well-restored medieval castle, working windmills, and homemade beer (try the Trahter Veski Tavern — interesting taste). Kuressaare Castle was originally built out of wood between 1338 and 1380, although some say that a preexisting stone fortress had first been constructed in 1260.
Today, the castle is home to Saaremaa Regional Museum — one of the oldest and largest museums in Estonia, founded in 1865. Other popular attractions in Kuressaare are the Town Hall (built in 1654), which still shows off some classicist and baroque features, and St. Nicolaus Church, built in 1790.
In the 19th century, Kuressaare was a popular seaside resort, but it has unfortunately lost this status over time, shedding visitors to other places in the country, such as Pärnu, the so-called “summer capital” of Estonia, which became a more popular seaside tourist destination. Even so, the only city on Saaremaa Island is still a fascinating place, boasting splendid landscapes.
Photos via Flickr.
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We have also written about Prague, Viscri, Košice, the unique cave bath of Miskolctapolca, Kraków, Plitvice Lakes Natural Park, Lake Bled, Veliko Tarnovo, Novi Sad, Stari Bar, Bánffy Castle, Hunyadi Castle, Gyula, Kaunas, Gauja National Park, Ruhnu, Zadar, Mostar, Tartu, Wigry National Park, Krk Island, Budva, Mileştii Mici Winery, Ljubljana, and Rupea Fortress.