Thursday, 21.09.2017

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Lääne-Viru county

 

The western half of the historical Virumaa region – today Lääne-Viru County, has a rich cultural and natural heritage. If arriving from Tallinn, take the direction towards Narva on the Peterburi highway. The capital of Lääne-Viru County is the historical Rakvere with its mighty Order castle. If possible, visit Võsu (a small hamlet) on your way – which is and has been a popular holiday destination for both Estonians as well as for numerous visitors coming from eastwards. If you are in Võsu, you are literally at the gates of the Lahemaa National Park (trans. “the Land of Bay’) which is undoubtedly the biggest richness of not only Lääne-Virumaa, but of the whole North-Estonian region. It’s the oldest natural resort in Estonia and surely one of the most important ones in Europe. To discover the whole Lahemaa you should consider at least a couple of days. The park was founded in 1971 to maintain, introduce and develop the nature and cultural heritage typical to North-Estonia.

 

Lahemaa National Park has several hiking and learning trails, like, nt. Majakivi-Pikanõmme learning trail (7km), Viru Raba learning trail (3,5km), Oandu learning trail (4,7km), Altja learning culture-historical trail (3km), Käsmu culture-historical trail (4,2km), Käsmu cycling trail (12km) and Võsu-Oandu hiking trail (9,5km).

 

Make sure to visit the romantic Käsmu fishermen village (mentioned already in the 15th century) and the Maritime Museum situated there. All across Estonia Käsmu is known as the village of captains and you’ll have a great chance to learn about the history of Käsmu in the museum. The museum is situated the former cordon house erected at the end of the 19th century.

 

The second, interesting old fishermen village is Altja, which is partially restored-reconstructed, including Uustalu and Toomarahva farmhouses with the side-buildings, the village swing, village tavern and fishing net sheds.

 

The indisputable pearls of Lääne-Viru County are the historically very magnificent and restored manors of Palmse and Sagadi. Palmse, at the very heart of Lahemaa Natural Park is one of the most unique restored manor complexes in the all Baltic States. The manor was erected in the 18th century by the von Pahlen family, nowadays it houses an interesting museum. The whole manor complex is surrounded by a beautiful park with numerous, rare old trees, swan ponds and park pavilions. The stable houses the Lahemaa National Park Nature Centre.

 

Sagadi, similarly, is considered to be one of the finest manor complexes in Estonia. Altogether, the main house exhibits the manor culture (architecture and interior design) from the 18th to 20th century 18 houses of the ensemble have been restored. The former garner-stable houses the Forest Museum and introduces the topics related to Estonian forestry.

 

You may also visit the unique Vao tower-castle and the limestone museum in Porkuni. Kiltsi castle with its admiral room from the end of the 18th century, is historically interesting (owned by the famous family of von Krusenstern).

 

At the end, you shouldn’t miss Rakvere – a nice and historical town of middle size in Estonian context. It fascinates you with its mighty Order castle walls from 14th to 16th century, the interior has been partially restored and preserved. The front courtyard has a handicraft yard, animal loose-box, the Schenkenberg tavern and various medieval attractions (turret, stone sling, bricole, bow shooting, sword fighting etc.).  You can see several expositions about the history and weapons of the Livonian Order through centuries. You can also visit the wine cellar, the chapel and the torture chamber.

 

At the castle you’ll not overlook the mighty sculpture of aurochs (‘Tarvas’) which once gave its name to the mighty fortress of Tarvanpää.