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.

Old mill turned into a restaurant

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.

Kuressaare Castle

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.

Kuressaare Castle

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.

Rocky waters in Saaremaa Island

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.

Kuressaare panorama
Kuressaare, the westernmost town in Estonia

Photos via Flickr.

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