Friday 30 November 2012

Pärnu-Estonia | Baltic Beauty in a Small Gulf of Riga Bay.

Pärnu is undoubtedly one of the most fascinating towns of Estonia, a Baltic beauty situated in a small gulf of Riga Bay, a famous centre with an important historic past since the times when the current municipality joined the legendary German Hanseatic League with its former name Pernau becoming a flourishing site linked to a very active artistic and commercial life.

That Estonian centre with its 45,000 inhabitants part of the county of Pärnumaa is located in the southwestern side of the Nation at approximately 130,0 kilometres from the fascinating capital of the country Tallinn is one of those places in which the attractive local architecture and the enchanting colours of the Baltic Sea create together a sort of magic scenery extremely fascinating at first sight and furthermore highlighted by a splendid natural environment surrounding the boundaries of a destination more than recommended.

The nearest intact verdant forests along a coast of over 240, 0 kilometres in length with long and wide sandy beaches lining the picturesque Gulf of Livonia which offers panoramic views absolutely stunning  are certainly great local highlights forming a great incentive to plan a trip to a place highly attractive and captivating.

Crossed by the river Pärnu Jogi, a scenic waterway which cuts in two sections the stupendous urban core north of one of its magnificent municipal green lungs, Pärnu rannapark before to embrace with a last beautiful bend the Baltic Sea also that presence adds more appeal to a setting which reflects in all its fascination a land of Northeastern Europe absolutely marvellous.
Highlighted by a captivating waterfront flanked by a large sandy stretch highly appreciated for its longitude, cleanliness and maintenance with the a splendid view of a Baltic horizon all to immortalise in hundreds of wonderful pictures, Pärnu in the last decades grew a lot and nowadays it has a relevant National Airport, an important cruise tourist harbour with ferry services which permits to reach and visit the beautiful small islands of Ruhnu, Kihnu and Saarema further great attractions you can not miss during a stay.

That Estonian jewel hosts a large variety of events among them a very important Film Festival which also calls many people from abroad, it has good range of superb museums offering many tourists the chance to known better the history of a town and of a country highly interesting and rich of events during all its chronological stages.

That Baltic gem is since a long time ago one of the favourite holidays destinations for many Estonian people who select that site which apart for its environmental beauty also for notable qualities in terms of incoming facilities, a good number of very comfortable Hotels and accommodations,  fine restaurants serving the best national cuisine  and the revaluation of an activity as the Spa Industry which since a long time boasts a considerable tradition has furthermore more elevated Pärnu as a National tourist hub of notable relevance.

The chance to enjoy several outdoor activities such as different kinds of water sports, cycling, radial excursions and trekking in a virgin Nordic woodland are other attractions next to the hospitable and friendly locals, all qualities which all together represent a pleasant invitation for tourists who are planning to travel and know that centre of a charming Baltic Republic.

The first impact with the town is immediately very positive with an enjoyable relaxing atmosphere, Pärnu  is a place on human scale creating for every visitor the perfect conditions for a pleasant visit with a pleasant walk along its splendid maritime promenade  and easily discovering its charming historic heart boasting a considerable architectural and historical patrimony

Strolling its local streets is very special, the old centre represents in its kind a beautiful jump in the past of the iconic Pernau as it was called during the Middle Ages when a numerous colony of German merchants gave the current municipality a wealthy life and that denomination.
The presence of a captivating fine baroque architecture, charming coloured traditional wooden buildings greatly preserved lining peaceful  arteries in an enchanting urban setting capturing in a while the human eye transmitting the visitors special feelings facing those attractions are also symbols of a place which was able to conserve its marked identity with pride.
The local history is highly captivating, definitely another great attraction and certainly its strategic geographic position played an important role because Pärnu has always been a desired place of conquest for many countries such as Germany, Lithuania, Poland, Sweden and Russia.

All they were extremely attracted to have in their domains that centre which was and is as an open gateway to different maritime routes with a protected harbour in a small gulf of Riga Bay but with an easy access to the entire Latvian coastline and immediately behind it a large passage to the interior of the Northeastern continent making that site a unique key point also for trade operations on road.
The name of the current town during the several occupations in its historical chronological stages changed many times the Germans called it Pernau, the Lithuanian and Polish Parnawa, for the Russians the former settlement was Pyarnu while the Swedes named it Parnuviken.

The first name despite all those denominations was German when a first official site was founded in medieval times, exactly in 1251 by the landing on Estonian soil of the Livonian Order a branch of the Teutonic Knights, paladins of the Christian Roman Church founded in 1237 by German nobles and the remnants of some members of the former Livonian Brothers of the Swords consisting in German monks warriors established by the Bishop Albert of Riga in 1202 supported by Pope Innocent III.

That fusion took place after the defeat of that former Institution against the Samogitians, a Lithuanian ethnic group in the notorious Battle of Saule which took place in 1236 in proximity of the current city of Šiauliai, the fourth centre of Lithuania.

The current centre was established by the Bishop of Ösel -Wiek in a vast region which was named Livonia  corresponding to the current Estonia with in addition the elevation of a former fortress in 1265.

The settlement was originally subdivided during its development in two different areas such as Alt Pernau, the old town  corresponding to the political and social heart and Neue Pernau, a new environment created in a territory which had a progressive and increasing growth due to the immigration of numerous peasants coming from the nearest villages of the interior who were looking for a better life in a new emergent reality.

For a long time that site  was strongly influenced by German culture in architecture, systems of trade, political organisation of the borders and also about artistic movements as painting although the locals have always kept their own  Baltic identity regarding the use of the native language, traditions, handicraft and costumes. 

In its early history the settlement started to have several contacts on the Baltic Sea including with many ports on the coasts of the Gulf of Finland thanks to active German traders who decided to establish in that Northeastern European land an important base for their commercial monopoles.

All those activities since then reached relevant peaks with the development of a solid maritime network which included many prestigious harbour  tows in the North and Baltic Seas.
Some years later Pernau was incorporated into the emblematic Hanseatic League, a medieval alliance founded by Heinrich III der Löwe well known with the nickname Henry the Lion, a prominent figure, charismatic Duke from Bavaria, an iconic character who impulsed the prestige and influence of that powerful Association gaining respect and appreciation all around Europe.

That emblematic league originally born in the Northern German in the city of Lübeck in 1358 but with that centre already very active since 1157 creating around itself a sort of magic aura, highly admired and regarded for its development and varied actvities.

 The legendary Hanse or Hansa as it was also known was probably the most powerful commercial and defencive Confederation commercial guilds dominating the Baltic maritime trade from the 15th to the 19th century.

After a very positive start-up that new headquarter was incorporated in its large network of domains which included apart wealthy cities in Germanic territory such as Hamburg, Bremen, Rostock, Berlin, Cologne, Wismar, Magdeburg and many others also further very relevant abroad such as Stockholm, Riga,Tallinn in that period called Reval, Gdańsk, Stettin, Krakow, Groningen and Tartu among others.

The main project and brilliant operations of the Hanseatic League were mainly focused to win the competition regarding maritime trades in a large environment also fluvial against powerful countries in that specific geographic area such as Sweden, Denmark and Russia which despite had a considerable fleet they often privileged war purposes of expansion and frequently leaving commercial issues in a secondary position in many despite owning several strategic ports.

It was due to that the German Confederation tried to take advantage from those situations establishing in some cases pacts and treaties of no aggression but at the same time always ready to defend its interest and the integration of Pärnu was another great achievement covering a territory of influence never settled before by those powers.

The Hansa also had a relevant army and always established in its domains fortified walled structures also happened in Pärnu becoming in many cases an insidious rival and feared by those big Reigns who found a more than organised presence always protagonists across the most relevant routes. (if you are interested I wrote some posts linked to all that as Bremen and Visby regarding the Hanseatic League)   

In the 16th century, the countries of Poland and Lithuania linked in that period under the same flag and Reign launched several attacks along the Baltic coasts conquering the town c in 1560.That Polish-Lithuanian rule endured just some years because there was an immediate siege by the fleet of the Kingdom of Sweden and the Scandinavians conquered that Estonian centre incorporating it in their Realm.

After that conquest by the Swedes, that Estonian harb our became coveted by Russia during the times of the Imperial Tsars and its increasing prestige with a unique strategic position in an impenetrable and safe inlet in a small gulf of Riga Bay with an immediate access to the straight coastline of Latvia so close to Russian territories generated a great interest by that big Empire.

After many years of disputes highlighted by frequent skirmishes with consequent naval clashes and a war characterised by many assaults in 1710 The Russian army conquered that town.

In occasion of the Treaty of Nystad signed on 30th August 1721 in that former Swedish town corresponding to the current Finnish municipality of Uusikaupunki  was determined that the Livonia ceased to exist and those lands with  Pärnu were integrated as territories under the influence of the Tsars

That agreement in that historical meeting furthermore was highlighted by a definitive sentence in which Sweden had to renounce to have future claims regarding those Baltic lands.

Estonia regained in 1918 its Independence but lost in 1940 when it was occupied by the Soviet Union with a massive invasion by the Red Army. During the established Communist regime which linked Pärnu to the USSR, the tourist harbour was closed and it was simply used as a fishing port generating since then years characterised by a notable decay.

The town lived in those times a pretty gray period secluded in a reality in which it could not express all its potential resources in terms of incoming tourism which already had notable signals of development in the 20's and 30's.

The most contemporary history of the country and of the current centre changed in 1991 when Estonia returned to be an independent State leaving the Soviet Confederation taking the name of Eesti Vabariik and later  after a referendum which took place on 14th September 2003 entered in the  European Community on 1st May 2004.

Under Soviet rule despite the construction of some traditional communist buildings the town was able to conserve its typical Estonian and Baltic architectural aspect with its original architecture consisting in traditional wooden houses still visible all around its boundaries.

Many of them were restored, refurbished and re-painted once again since the 90's to keep alive a rooted identity also in terms of typical constructions using identical materials and in those structures were also added in their ground floors typical taverns, lovely shops and stylish offices.

Those operations were organised to preserve and embellish in a clever plan the distinguished profile of the former centre without a peculiar alteration of an urban setting which apart to be very scenic boasts an important historic value.

The respect of the patrimony during those arrangements with the preservation of the original urban and architectural canons is also visible in more recent structures elevated with a loyal respect of a balanced harmonious and attractive environment where the new and the old perfectly coexist and it is all what you can greatly admire nowadays.

After the last Independence in 1991 Pärnu  started to have an increasing incoming tourism and the first numerous tourists came due to geographic proximity from the nearest Finland with a multitude of Finns who frequently visited that Estonian centre with extreme easiness in several short breaks and weekends characterised by cultural tourism and shopping.

Soon the town became a destination of other travellers from other countries thanks also to new political processes by a new government when Estonia left in a corner and forgot that infamous aspect linked to visas, permissions and bureaucratic arrangements to enter in the country much more highlighted after its entry in Europe opening since then its doors to new tourist flows totally deleting the inauspicious gray times of the Cold War.

That fast change was very useful and great and Pärnu for its considerable history and beauty  was quickly integrated by several foreign specialised Tour Operators and Travel Agencies programming the Baltic Republics as a fundamental destination a visitor can not miss. The name of that Estonian town was inserted as protagonist in tours, special itineraries, short breaks and also Fly & Drive routes as a place of extreme relevance.

The centre of that town is developed behind its charming Pärnu sadam, the local harbour with a splendid prolongation along a coastal road called Lootsi ending on a verdant wide peninsula and the long attractive maritime promenade close to the estuary of the river Pärnu Yogi which embraces the Baltic in the wide Riga Bay highlighted by a large spectacular curve just half kilometres after Tallinna maantee bridge.

The vital core of that Estonian municipality starts along Pikk consisting in a long avenue which crosses the centre surrounded by several parks such as Mere Park, Valli Park, Munamae Park, Lydia Koidula Park and Pärnu Vanapark parallel to the streets Kuninga and Rüuti and you will immediately notice due that notable presence of splendid verdant lungs that Pärnu is a very green town, a stunning detail which certainly increases its appeal.

Between those two relevant hallways is situated the beating municipal heart with three long arteries such as Vee, Nikolai and Pühavaimu, all them running in the same directions from the northern to the southern boundaries.

In that urban area is located Lai, one the most important urban axes facing the river which divides the old city to the new suburbs while Esplanaadi is another important road forming a sort of belt enclosing the centre in its southern side.

I suggest you to start the visit in Nikolai, a street situated between Munamaë Park and Lydia Koudulia Park, it is a very strategic and excellent point not far from all the most important monuments and attractions and its name pays homage to the disappeared Church of St.Nicholas destroyed in the 2nd World War.

Once there you can admire Pärnu Raekoda, the Town Hall, a fine building erected in Neoclassic style in 1797. That construction boasts a notable value because it was originally the former merchants headquarter and since 1839 it hosts the offices of the local administration. 

After several works of preservation and restoration it shows a new fascinating architectural aspect, it is a big two story building erected on a wide plan highlighted by two symmetrical lines of high rectangular windows with a charming decorated arched portal flanked by scenic lanterns and in its upper section it presents a huge pediment characterised by marked outlines and inside it was placed a semicircular stained glass window.

Some very interesting stories are linked to that site because it was the favourite accommodation during his trips to the Estonian town of the Tsar Aleksandr Pavlovich, well known as Alexander I Emperor of Russia who ruled that country for 24 years from 1801 to 1825 and it is said that after those frequent visits it was transformed in 1819 in the residence of the Commandant of the Russian Army living in Pärnu.

Opposite that beautiful palace you can see under oak trees a memorial stone established in that point to remember the previously mentioned Church of St.Nicolai which was visited before its total destruction by several pilgrims to venerate the Black Cross which is also depicted in the coat of arms of Pärnu.

Along that artery you can immediately admire another attraction consisting in Elidsabeti Kirik, Elisabeth Church and that name is in honour of the Russian Emperess Elizaveta Petrovna well known as Yelisaveta and Elizabeth of Russia, successor of Peter III.

That Monarch was  pretty famous because during her reign endured from 1741 to 1762, in just 21 years led her country in two wars, the first corresponding to the war of Austrian Succession in the 40's of the 18th century and second in the Seven Years' War which took place from 1756 to 1763.

That sacred site erected between 1744 and 1747 by a Latvian master builder called J.H.Güterbock  with a last retouch in 1750 with the development of its spire by the architect J.H. Wüllbern who also designed that of St. Peter's  Church you can nowadays admire in Riga.

It was a  construction desired by that Empress who donated approximately 8,000 Russian roubles fr its elevation and it  is today the official seat of the local Lutheran community.

Developed on a large rectangular plan in a splendid Baroque style with a high light red facade showing attractive intermediate white vertical and horizontal lines, despite from some perspectives it could appear a bit sober for the lack of scenic decorations on its walls pretty common in Northern Europe in the second half of the 18th century it is well integrated in the local environment. 

Notable are the executions of refined lines in its entire layout and a superb symmetry of all the architectural elements present in its main facade and sides highlighted in addition by splendid large curved windows and a scenic upper section greatly characterised by a polygonal light turret on which was placed a captivating red spire topped by a pinnacle.

A wide sloping roof covering the central body and the presence of a series of long arched stained glass windows with marked white outlines on its front side are other fine works. The entire structure shows a balanced image, not too pompous but with a well cared aesthetic aspect making it one of the best Ecclesiastic complexes erected in that period.
The interior is very charming with a splendid Gothic pulpit considered one of the gems of Baroque art in Estonia just like a splendid altarpiece depicting the Resurrection of Jesus Christ executed in Rotterdam,The Netherlands in 1854 and a further attraction is the beautiful transept made in 1893 by an architect from Riga of German origin called Häuseman.

Thanks to its good acoustic that Church is considered a relevant place for music exhibitions and hosting in many occasions concerts and events linked to classic music and choir performances highlighted by a superb organ dated 1929 considered one the finest produced in the country.

Very close at approximately 100, 0 metres of distance walking you can admire in a street called Hommiku another distinctive local monument called Punane Torn

It is one of the ancient medieval gates of Pärnu elevated in the 15th century consisting in the oldest construction existing today in the municipal boundaries, an iconic local emblem because it was part of a fortress which after its construction was denominated Pärnu linnus, the castle of Pärnu.

Erected  during the famous times of the Hanseatic League when the former Pernau started to have an image of fortified stronghold it is also called Red Tower despite the only element having that kind of colour is a beautiful large conical roof  while the main body of the construction consists in a huge circular white building with some rectangular windows of different size placed on its wall.

From its urban position you will immediately notice the perfect selected choice of its strategic establishment because it is situated just halfway between Pikk and Kuninga and not far from Ringi, the current avenue directly leading to the river.

It represented since its elevation a structure which played an important role as main pillar of those notorious defencive bastions in a very organised system which resisted to numerous attacks and assaults.

It is nowadays considered a patrimony heritage of considerable relevance currently hosting a souvenir shop and a glass workshop,a place where you can find very interesting local articles and products at very good prices.

 In the street Kuninga one of the longer local arteries of the centre you can admire Tallinna Väravad, Tallinn Tower. It is the only renmant of the ancient rampant of the fortress erected in the 17th century over a previous built two centuries before and it consists in a big light construction highlighted by an arched doorway and a passage surmounted by a high rounded pediment with the coat of arms of the municipality placed beneath it.

Sober but with well defined lines that Tower Gate was one of the most important structures of the former fortifications until the early 18th century, a historic period in which it had another name when it was called King Carl Gustav Torn in honour of that Swedish Monarch when Pärnu was part of the Reign of that Scandinavian country.

That structure was destroyed in its major totality in the 19th century and the current name derives for its geographic position because immediately off  from  it originally started the road leading to the Estonian capital Tallinn and for that reason it was assigned that denomination including to indicate the direction to several merchants with destination the major centre of the Nation.

The Municipality and the local Institutions decided to keep and preserve that construction apart for its historic value also because it is as a protective shield against storms

After some restorations and placing a system of illumination Tallinna Väravad still keeps the charm of its past next to a scenic fountain and next to it was placed a small replica of the original building showing the visitor how was originally the true and original structure established in the 15th century.

Another considerable historic monument of the town consists in Katarina Kirik, the Church dedicated to St. Catherine and to the Queen Catherine the Great of Russia famous sovereign of that country for 28 years after the assassination of his husband, the Tsar Pyotr III Fyodorovich, an event which took place at end of the Seven Years' War.

Built in 1768 as a Religious Orthodox Temple by the architect Jegorov to be the main seat to host the numerous Russian community settled in the town, that Sacred building has a fine ochre facade highlighted by inter winded white lines and refined pediments placed above green doors.

The scenic copper dome of Neo-Byzantine inspiration loyally reflects the architectural canons of the traditional Russian Religious constructions but  it is considered in its kind one of the most peculiar and unseal Orthodox Baroque Churches of the entire Baltic area for its varied mix of eclectic artistic details but at the same time very simple for a decoration not too sophisticated and pompous. 

Another considerable aspect of that building is that it was erected in only four years, a sort of record in its kind looking at its size and a further highlight which impresses several people is the beautiful presence of stylish green pinnacles in perfect harmony with the rest of the architectural elements present in its layout and also gor that it is definitely one of the most photographed monuments of Pärnu.

A further famous highlight of the historic centre is definitely Pärnu Muradavila, the famous Mud Baths because it is the emblematic site which gave origin to that activity called Spa which started with extreme success a superb cycle of incoming tourism since its elevation in 1838.

A new building in a Neo Classic style was erected between 1926 and 1927 after a fire dated the period related to the 1st World War reusing the former foundations, part of the former walls and frameworks, a great work by the architects Olev Sinmaa, Alexsander Nürnberg and Erich von Wollfeldt and it took the image you can admire today.

It is a majestic building with a resemblance in modern key especially in its front side to a Hellenic temple with a large pediment above a refined colonnade with a high central body flanked by two long wings covered by sloping roofs and big rectangular windows inserted on their facades.

After its total redevelopment that place retook the brilliant previous activity with a considerable boom in the 30's providing different kinds of treatments particularly highlighted by thermal baths and it became since that reconstruction in a very short time one of the emblematic symbols of Pärnu but including of the entire Estonia offering as accommodation comfortable 130 rooms.
The Mud Baths in that complex reached a further a great popularity including before the start of the 2nd World War hosting several people enjoying many Spa and Wellness therapies such as sauna, warm therapeutic baths, different kinds of massages with an important affluence especially by visitors coming from Finland and Sweden.

During the times of the former Soviet Union since 1946 that site was used as Spa centre and relevant meeting point mainly frequented by workers linked to the Socialist Party and soldiers of the Red Army named in those times Temple of Health.

After a period of inactivity and a decline for lack of interest, it entered in a period of sad decay but after a relaunch of the activity and a new further restoration in more recent times today it provides many kinds of trendy and modern activities specialised in nervous system, electrotherapies, aromatherapy and also hydrotherapy with a stunning reactivation of the thermal baths.

Another place I recommend you to visit is Mere Park, it is one of the most beautiful green spaces of Pärnu located along the beach, well cared with a very charming vegetation all around its boundaries, a beloved meeting point of locals and families during weekends for nice walks enjoying that verdant Eden and it is also a special site in which the visitor can find other important local attractions.

Situated in proximity of the waterfront between that wide green area and the local coastline with its fascinating beach you can admire the famous Rannahotell, a comfortable hospitality establishment which made in its kind the history of the old Pernau considered among the most important seaside resorts in Estonia and one of the emblematic icons related to the tourism industry of Estonia.

That notable accommodations opened its doors in 1937 during the golden ages of tourism in those years, it is a white building arranged on three floors showing the typical Baltic modern functionalism and symmetry in the arrangements of windows and balconies in its front side with sober doorways but with well defined outlines.

During USSR times the Hotel was used as Sanatorium and after a long of period of total inactivity the establishment reopened its doors in 1994 exactly three years later of that important event corresponding to the Estonian Independence.

In its interior you can admire ample halls decorated with a very stylish taste and large spaces ideal and perfect for social meetings and conventions in a setting very well arranged for its functionality with an easy access to all the common areas established in a layout very attractive and welcoming.

Today that emblematic Hotel is one of the most important local attractions for obvious historic reasons and it is a pride of the entire Baltic Nation. 

During summer season the terrace of its bar is generally packed by tourists who find in that  environment a favourite haven of  relaxation enjoying a cool drink and the proximity of the beach with a splendid view of the Sea is also a special detail explaining why so many people love so much that place.

In the park walking a short distance from that splendid accommodation you can see a bench with a statue depicting Raimond Valgre who real name was Raimond Tiisel probably considered the most famous singer, musician and composer in the history of Estonia all time.

That sculpture is a work by Rait Pärg, one of the most celebrated contemporary sculptors of the country to pay homage to that distinctive character who played an important role for the Estonian spirit of identity.

The name of that singer was and is very popular in the entire Nation and it is also related to a peculiar historic episode characterised in a time in which his songs were totally banned during the Soviet Union regime because not considered suitable and appropriate.

Some years later after the death in 1949 of that man they were re-adapted as a sort of veiled music revival just like some songs in other former Republics of that big former country.

The regime in a sort of soft political reform wanted to show to other Nations far from its sphere and not adherent to the Pact of Warsaw in that period called Cold War that there was a respect of the local ethnic traditions and cultures of the different populations part of the former USSR although with some restrictions. 

In brief, those artists and determined melodies appeared in sporadic occasions and under total control in events managed by the Socialist party and the former rulers.

Pärnu decided to pay tribute to that artist with that statue and every summer is celebrated a musical show commemorating one of the most important figures of music of the Nation who despite the difficulties of the past was able to transmit with his works a national spirit in an art as music very rooted in the entire population.

It is an appointment lived with enthusiasm and passion by locals remembering that historic figure and all what he represented in his way, exalting the Estonian soul and with his messages narrated in melodic songs highly regarded.

Not far from that significant monument you can admire Villa Ammende, a beautiful building erected in Art Nouveau style in 1905.

The splendid facade in ochre and white tonalities with a wide balcony in the centre are the expression of the Baltic Modernism strongly inspired by the German Jugendstil, a movement which found a very fertile soil in that country with many artists who absorbed those magnificent architectural lines which had in Munich and in particular in the district of Schwabing its cradle. (If you are interested I wrote a post regarding that splendid Borough of the Bavarian capital)

The local artists adapted that kind of art with their own talent and that mansion is a clear example with its sinuous lines, rounded sections flanking high vertical flat walls, symmetry of framed doors, scenic windows on its front side and an eclectic roof with different shapes around its entire development.  

The building was the residence of a rich merchant’s family called Ammende from who derives the denomination of the current villa and those traders after financial problems and a bankrupt left the town. 

The municipality which acquired the property of that mansion sold it and during different periods it was used for different activities and purposes such as disco club, venue but also hosting a Casino. 

Highlighted by a beautiful environment, encircled by a huge garden and with the presence of a romantic fountain facing its scenic front side after a long restoration that refined construction is nowadays an elegant Hotel offering the most comfortable services and facilities and ideal place to organise several events.

Pärnu also offers interesting museums and one of them particularly relevant is Lydia Emilie Florentine Janssen Museum well known as Lydia Koidula dedicated to a famous Estonian poetess who was undoubtedly one of the most important figures regarding culture and literature in the country.

That artist was the inventor and founder of theatre and drama of the Nation in Estonian language and daughter of Voldemar Janssen who wrote the lyrics of the National Anthem

Considered a charismatic character for her fervent patriotic spirit and innate eclectic skills which linked music, literature and narrations, the talent of that artist elevated herself as a national symbol and main human instrument to express with superb works the true Baltic identity of the country.

Another interesting one you can visit is Uue Kunsti Muuseum, an exhibition focused on Modern Art. Opened in 1992 it contains a wide collection of works, films and a video library. That site is also very famed all around that Republic to host an annual event called Man and Woman consisting in an exposition of nudes and furthermore hosting the International Documentary Festival of Pärnu which gained international fame in the last years.
The twn offers an intense cultural calendar with concerts, exhibitions but in particular is the Cinema Festival which occupies a relevant position calling several artists, film-makers and  Directors from many foreign countries.

It is considered the most important events celebrated in the country and with a continuous progress for the several trendy proposals of the local Film Industry which also found in Estonia a great place to launch works with a large local and international audience highlighted by an always increasing presence of eminent figures.
Estonia is also a country with a splendid music tradition, the Estonian like the Finnish is considered a very musical language due to the presence in its lexicon of many vocals and since 2002 Pärnu has its own very active Concert Hall organising several prestigious events with the organisation of many appointments focused on music and singing.

As historic and cultural centre, Pärnu is also the birthplace of illustrious people with prominent characters born in the town. Worth a  mention  the famous jeweller of German origin Gustav Fabergé, a notorious son of the former Pernau when it was inhabited by a numerous German community.

During a stay in that town I suggest you to visit the Island of Saaremaa which is also for area the third of the Baltic Sea. You can reach it by ferry, it is a place which had a notable historic relevance in the Middle Ages during the times of the Teutonic Knights who founded on its soil a medieval fortress called Arensburg later renamed Kuresaare castle for its location in a town with the same name.

That island was also an important Swedish stronghold when it was called Ösel and it is very famous for its archaeological sites, long virgin beaches and a wild interior ideal for those who love trekking, horse riding and to admire intact Nordic forests a short distance from a marvellous coastline.

Saaremaa  is very suggestive with very scenic and inspiring landscapes and including it is surrounded by a special aura reminiscent legends with epic battles between the locals who wanted to defend their land by Viking incursions and landing of legendary Templar Knights.
Some historical documentations linked that island as a site inhabited by Scandinavian divinities and the name of that land is also related to one of the possibilities it is a place in the centre of the European continent.

For those who love the events and the historic stages of the 2nd World War , that place is also well known because was occupied by German troops in 1941 in the famous Unternehmen Beowulf, the Operation Beowulf, when the 61 Deutsche Volksgrenadier Division, a special corp of Infantry thanks to the support of the Finnish Navy landed on that island releasing it expelling a regiment of the Russian Red Army and the presence of German soldiers endured for other three years until 1944.

Ruhnu is another special place I recommend you, that fabulous island is reachable by plane thanks to a small airport and by ferry in summer season. It is not very big, its length is less than 6, 0 kilometres, approximately 3, 5 kilometres wide and it is nicknamed the Pearl of Riga Bay for its uncontaminated environment and scenic coasts.

In addition it is is very famous for its lighthouse visible on a low hill called Haubjerre, built in France by Gustave Eiffel and transported on Ruhnu soil in 1877. Other great attractions of that wonderful place are a splendid beach called Limo considered one of the most attractive of the Baltic Sea situated in its southeastern side and a splendid Baroque wooden Church dedicated to St. Madeleine erected in 1644. 

Another highlight is the beautiful panoramic views it offers because from its southern coast you can have an unforgettable view of the Latvian coastline admiring the town of Tuja and all the stretch north of the capital of that country, Riga. 

 Once there I suggest you you to reach in its extreme northern point simply fantastic for its natural and preserved environment and from that point you will enjoy a superb image of the thin and long southern peninsula of Saremaa and another fantastic one towards the Latvian town of Kolka.

Estonian gastronomy is the result of many historic influences form different countries such as Germany, Sweden and Russia combined with the local Baltic cuisine.

Herring is one of the main sea products often presents in many plates accompanied by potatoes and onions also used as main ingredients for the typical Rossolje another dish in which that kind of fish is prepared with beetroot, salt and vinegar and also served in snacks and appetisers with the classic pickled.

Another delight which frequently appears on the Estonian tables is the delicious Räim, a kind of small herring very common in Riga Bay and highly appreciated is the Marineeritud Angerjas a famous plate consisting in marinated eels served cold and accompanied by vegetables or potatoes. 

Other common fishes which have a considerable reputation in the local gastronomy always fresh and superb are trout, sprats and pike prepared in different styles such as grilled, fried, baked or boiled.

Meat is also presents with the famed Pirukas, anotorious speciality consisting in a sort of meat pie prepared with minced beef, eggs, onion, salt and dough and there are other variants of that plate using vegetables such as cabbage, carrots and in some cases having boiled rice too.

The Mulgikapsad is a national chucrut, a popular meat stew cooked using several ingredients such as pork meat, sauerkraut, barley, salt, bacon, sugar and it is often served with potatoes and also the Sült is another typical dish prepared with pork legs, beef meat, carrots, onion, garlic, salt, laurel and black pepper.

A very popular product is the Verivorst, a dark blood pig sausage prepared with black pepper, onion, paprika, parsley, garlic and in a variant adding rice too. 

About beverages Estonia produces a good variety of excellent beers among the most popular which worth to be mentioned are Le Coq and Saku and it is a land with an excellent quality of liquors as the famed Eesti Viin Vodka very appreciated by many people.

The town is connected to the Capital Tallinn situated at 130, 0 kilometres of distance by services of buses and trains and it has its small airport with domestic and some charter international flights. 

Naturally Lennart Meri Tallinna Lennujaam the International Airport of the major Estonian centre due to its busier traffic is a great option with a good presence of operating flights and Air Companies landing on it and from there you can reach Pärnu driving by Tallin-Pärnu Ikla Strada and in approximately one hour and 45 minutes in normal conditions of traffic you will be at destination.

That Baltic beauty in a fantastic small gulf of Riga Bay is very attractive, a kind of town able to inspire everyone thanks its genuine and true preserved image transmitting a desire to discover every corner of its boundaries discovering also in remote alleys a notable fascination and the striking maritime images from its waterfront are also magnificent highlights delighting the visitor in a while.

If you are planning to visit Estonia, do not miss Pärnu for its interesting historic patrimony and for its distinctive and unique atmosphere, a destination extremely recommended to discover and enjoy, a stunning corner of Northeastern Europe which will totally surprise you.

Francesco Mari

Recommended Hotels in Pärnu

Hotel Villa Almenne
Hotel Legend
Hotel Tervis Paradiis
Hotel Strand Spa & Conferences

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Thanks a lot to read and note.