Thursday, 21.09.2017

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Harju county


Harju County has more than any other region or County of Estonia been involved in history’s crises and great events. The number of objects and places of interest is far larger than elsewhere, be it in churches, manors or in nature. Only archeological sites count more than one and a half thousand.


The centre of Harju County and the capital of Estonia is Tallinn with it’s almost perfectly preserved medieval old town, interesting suburbs and settlements as Kadriorg,  Nõmme, Pirita, Kalamaja etc. and With hundreds of other sites and objects worth visiting, Tallinn doesn’t need a big introduction. Then again, Harju County is by far not only the city of Tallinn.


Worth of immediate mentioning are unique sites like Rebala heritage site in Jõelähtme with stone cross burial mounds from late-bronze period, the impressive Jägala fortress , the Witch Stone in Assaku having one of the largest number of hollows in Europe or the huge Uku Stone in Muusika village.


If you cannot visit the whole Harju County, it’s worth to concentrate on a certain region in Harju County, as you’ll be sure to find great sights all along your way.


For example, and especially to defy any prejudices, visit the town on Paldiski west of Tallinn, with Peter’s bastions erected in 1718 – 1725 by command of Peeter I. Or look up the sea fortress of Peter the Great, built around Tallinn in the beginning of the 20th century. In Paldiski, don’t miss to visit the Small and Big Pakri island (Väike Pakri and Suur Pakri). Despite the first impression, Paldiski is an old settlement and already before the time of the Russian czar area, there was the Swedish port called Rågervik in Paldiski. It was only in the 2nd half of the 18th century when the settlement was called Baltijski Port (the Baltic Port), which was renamed into Paldiski in 1933, in the “1st” Estonian Republic.


The Soviet Army settled its marine bases in the city and the majority of local civilians were evacuated. The training center for nuclear submarines was founded in 1962 in Paldiski – the islands of Pakri were shut down from the public eye – and Paldiski became a closed Soviet garrison city. Nowadays the city has opened up again expecting every visitor.

In Harju County you will also find a rich choice of magnificent manor complexes, the most exciting ones would be Saue, Vääna, Kolga, Vasalemma and Riisipere manors, to name only the very few. All in all, there are more than 150 manors in Harju County.


And in its nature, Harju County is quite diverse, stretching from the cliffy shores of North-Estonia up to the marsh and swamp forests of Kõrvemaa. The limestone coastline is a national symbol and a great sight wherever you visit it, especially interesting are the rivers flowing into the Baltic Sea, like in Jägala and Keila, where you’ll find the 8m high Jägala waterfall and in Keila the over 6m Keila-Joa waterfall. Make sure to visit the rapids of Treppoja, which falls consist of various terraces.


If you are heading towards Kostivere, know that the river there disappears under the earth and flows like this for 2.5km. Due to this there are a lot of karst-funnels, small cages etc. Visit the Luhala natural protection area with the very popular Tuhala witch well (in Sulu farm). In the east Harju County, in Kõrvemaa, there are a lot of swampy areas, marshes, swamp forests and beautiful lakes. In Harjumaa you’ll also find one part of the biggest and most important national parks in Estonia – Lahemaa.


If possible, visit at least one of the natural reserves (Paunküla, Pakri or Kolga bay natural reserve). For example in Paunküla with its water catchment with several islands, you can have a good rest or possibilities for wondering on foot or on bike.


Besides Tallinn and Paldiski there are five more cities in Harju County. Kehra at the Jägala River is interesting for its historical paper manufacture. You’ll also find a preserved wooden main building of the manor form the 1820-s. Or the town of Saue with its manor from the end of the 18th – during the 20th century an idyllic garden-city has developed around it.


The town of Keila is situated at the river of the same name, there are several parks and beautiful pine trees. The manor is located at Keila-Joa (the Keila waterfall) with the main building and several surrounding housings, unfortunately many of them raided or rebuilt.


The city of Maardu is characterized by industry and the lake of Maardu, there’s also the manor of Maardu. In Loksa you’ll find the Loksa Maarja and Loksa Kroonlinna churches.


If possible visit Aegviidu with the electrical train; Aegviidu arose in Kõrvemaa in the 18th century, as the Piibe road was built through marshes and swamps.  Today Aegviidu is a pleasant place to visit for Tallinners in the summer.


In Aruküla you can visit both the manor and two natural protection objects: the giant megalith and the tamarack alley.

Kose-Uuemõisa manor in the Kose is historically very interesting and closely linked to the baron dynasty of von Uexküll. Unfortunately, many of the manor houses are in a bad state. You can visit the manor chapel; you’ll also find the ruins of the old greenhouse.


Viimsi hamlet next to Tallinn and situated on the Viimsi peninsula is one of the noblest suburbs of Tallinn with its wonderful sea views, pine forests and new villas. Be sure to visit the Viimsi open-air museum. If you go towards Paldiski, though, visit the Hüüru watermill (“Hüüru veski”) with its tavern, to get a proper meal or if you prefer to catch your meal yourself, there’s a great option to go fishing in the trout pond.


Only within a short trip outside Tallinn you’ll find the small hamlet Saku, which is home to both the beautiful manor of Saku as well as to the biggest and oldest brewery of Estonia – Saku Õlletehas.


Tabasalu, just outside the borders of Tallinn, as also become one of the popular suburbs with its wide seaside and cliff shore, as well as great possibilities for eating and recreation.