Kadriorg Park is the most outstanding palatial and urban park in Estonia, covering around 70 hectares. Its construction began in 1718 on the orders of Russian tsar Peter I. Elements of park design from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries can be seen here.
The most popular places for a stroll in the park are the flower beds surrounding the Swan Pond and the promenade leading from there to the president's palace.
There are a number of museums in the park, including KUMU (the Estonian Art Museum), Kadriorg Art Museum and the Mikkeli Museum, as well as monuments to such cultural figures as sculptor Amandus Adamson, author F. R. Kreutzwald and artist Jaan Koort.
Listed in UNESCO heritage, the complex provides an overview of maritime trade, agencies, and navigation in the Middle Ages, as well as in the era of sailing, steam, and motor ships. There is a total of 1,000 m² of exhibition space. The star exhibit is the 700-year-old Koge wreck found in Kadriorg in 2015. There are about 70 ship models out of which 17 have been created specifically for the exhibition, nearly 700 items, and 50 digital and hands-on solutions.
The representative square of Tallinn – Freedom Square is a popular meeting place designed for pedestrians. The monument to the War of Independence is also located there.
Over the years, the square has gone by many names: Heinaturg (Hay Market), Peetri plats (Peter’s Square), and Võiduväljak (Victory Square) among them. It was first named Freedom Square in 1939, remaining that way until 1948. The name was readopted in 1989.
The defensive structures found at archaeological excavations have been preserved and stored in the parking lot under the square; the remains of the guard gates of the defence tower can be seen at the end of Harju Street through a glass screen.
World Heritage Site Suomenlinna is a cultural treasure. Its construction began in the mid-18th century, when Finland was still part of Sweden. The development of tourism began after the wars in the 20th century, and in the 21st century, the Suomenlinna sea fortress is one of the most popular attractions in Finland. Today, the fortress and its museums, restaurants and events are a memorable experience for visitors of all ages. Suomenlinna is not only a popular visitor attraction but also a home of 800 residents.
The number of visitors to Suomenlinna has continued to grow, and with over 900,000 visitors every year, the sea fortress is one of Finland’s most popular tourist destinations. Suomenlinna attracts visitors from both Finland and abroad: it offers an ideal environment for exploring a historical world heritage site, or just spending a day relaxing. Many visitors come to the island during the summer, but the number of wintertime visitors is steadily growing.
Hanasaari is an enchanting place in the midst of the archipelago, close to the Helsinki city centre. The Hanasaari Swedish-Finnish Cultural Centre promotes and develops interaction between Finland and Sweden, as well as co-operation in all areas of society.
Hanasaari’s home is a modern well-maintained building, amply decorated with modern Finnish and Swedish art. The Hanasaari cultural centre was inaugurated on 1 June 1975 by King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden and President Urho Kekkonen of Finland. The building was designed by architect Veikko Malmio, and its original interior decorations by Professor Yrjö Sotamaa.
An art competition was organised during the building phase, and the winner was revealed by King Carl XVI Gustaf when he inaugurated the house. The winning piece was Heikki Häiväoja‘s grand relief “Vuorovaikutus” (Interaction). Two other participating works were also purchased for Hanasaari: Marjatta Weckström‘s relief “Vuodenajat” (The seasons), which today can be seen in Restaurant Johannes, and the bronze front doors with small coloured windows embedded in them by Kauko Räsänen.
The Senate Square and its surroundings form a unique and cohesive example of Neoclassical architecture. The square is dominated by four buildings designed by Carl Ludvig Engel (1778-1840): Helsinki Cathedral, the Government Palace, the main building of the University of Helsinki and the National Library of Finland. A statue of Alexander II (1894) stands in the middle of the Senate Square. Helsinki Cathedral is arguably Finland's most famous and photographed building. The oldest stone building in Helsinki is the Sederholm House located on the southeast corner of the square. Today the building hosts the Helsinki City Museum. The Esplanade park and the Market Square are just a block away. The Senate Square also hosts a sound installation called the Sound of the Senate Square. It is a modern version of the European glockenspiel and can be heard every day at 17:49 as it travels from one building to the next. The composition runs for 5 minutes 18 seconds and is composed by Harri Viitanen and Jyrki Alakuijala.
The City of Espoo is unique in not having a single centre, but instead have a number of major urban centres. One of these is Tapiola, which can lay claim to being the cultural heart of the city, as it features the Espoo Cultural Centre, home to the Tapiola Sinfonietta, Espoo City Theatre, and two concert spaces in Louhisali and Tapiolasali. Tapiola is also home to the nearby WeeGee Exhibition Centre, which consists of four very different museums: EMMA – Espoo Museum of Modern Art, KAMU – Espoo City Museum, the Finnish Toy Museum Hevosenkenkä and the Finnish Museum of Horology.
WeeGee Exhibition Centre provides a wide range of experiences for visitors of all ages. There are numerous temporary exhibitions in the museums to complement their permanent collections, and guided tours, workshops and themed events are held throughout the year. The centre also houses the museum shop, perfect for picking up souvenirs, and the Cafe WeeGee. Behind the main building visitors will find the visionary Futuro House, while the Studio Suuronen exhibitions are always interesting.
Completed in 1969, Temppeliaukio Church is carved right from the bedrock in the center of Helsinki.
The underground house of worship, called Temppeliaukion kirkko in Finnish, was designed by architect brothers Timo and Tuomo Suomalainen in the charmingly named Töölö neighborhood. On all sides of the circular church are roughly hewn stone, where sometimes water still seeps in to create miniature waterfalls. A dome coated with copper covers the rock church, with a skylight open in a belt below it to make the dome appear to hover. Even further below the church is a Cold War-era air raid shelter, which now serves as parking.
Despite its cave-like appearance, Temppeliaukio Church actually has marvelous acoustics, where the sound beautifully bounces from the craggy stone.
Söderskär lighthouse island combines a rugged but breathakingly beautiful environment with a fascinating history. In summer there are cruises to the island for the public, and for groups there is the possibility of chartering a cruise. During your visit you will hear many fascinating stories and also visit the art exhibition, which changes every summer. You can book accommodation in the lighthouse from July to September.
On the northern shore of Laajalahti Bay, in Tarvaspää, lies the Gallen-Kallela Museum, designed and built by one of Finland’s finest artists, Akseli Gallen-Kallela. Tarvaspää’s beautiful surroundings and the museum’s unique architecture provide the perfect setting for a museum visit. Originally a studio and residence, the museum opened to the public in 1961. The temporary exhibitions that present the art and life of Gallen-Kallela are shown alongside present-day works of contemporary art, while a wide range of events and activities are arranged during the year, with the museum acting as a centre for information on the great artist. Tarvaspää Cafe Zoceria is located in a delightful villa next to the museum where visitors can enjoy great coffee, snacks, salads and soups.
Haapsalu Castle is an architectural gem built in the 13th century, which until the end of the 17th century was the seat of power of the local authorities.
The museum in the main castle focuses on the history of the castle itself. You can learn about the construction of the castle, the birth of the town of Haapsalu, and the fate of the rulers and locals of the Bishopric of Ösel–Wiek. In order to better understand the life of that time, guests can try out different mechanisms. The passages on the walls offer a wonderful view of the castle and the picturesque town of Haapsalu.
Ridala Church is one of the most valuable churches in Läänemaa from the artistic point of view. It has been dedicated to Mary Magdalene whose figure in the church is one of the oldest sculptured figures in Estonia.
This archaic sanctuary lacks a belfry. Be sure to take a look at the medieval paintings. The altar, the triumphal arch group and pulpit are also remarkable. In the churchyard the most valuable things are the trapezoid gravestones dating back to the 13th century with sun cross and arbour vitae motifs. The two massive stone crosses near the main entrance of the church are very old. Interesting facts: According to a folk tale the church was built by a giant maiden as a dwelling house.
A new type of visitor centre, Haltia strives to bring all of Finland’s nature under one roof and closer to the visitor through the building’s facilities and its exhibitions. With a visit to Haltia you can experience nature from all over Finland, in the Helsinki region. Visitors to the Haltia – The Finnish Nature Centre are blessed with spectacular views of Nuuksio National Park and Lake Nuuksio Pitkäjärvi, as well as access to the excellent hiking trails that abound.
The exhibitions in Haltia take visitors on a trip through Finland to experience the country’s nature at its most spectacular, from all the distinct regions, and the 40 national parks within its borders. There is also an introduction to the numerous nature experiences available in the Helsinki region, some of which will be well known while others much less so.
The Snowy Canyon leads you to the main exhibition hall, where you can examine the Finnish winter and how animals and plants survive it. In the main exhibition, photography and videos by Finland’s finest nature photographers take visitors through Finnish landscapes as well as underwater in all seasons. There are over 80 Finnish nature destinations that can be explored through touchscreens, from the Finnish Archipelago to the fells of Lapland. The exhibition includes a large wooden Duck Egg, which serves as the setting for the Game Theory video installation by artist Osmo Rauhala. At Haltia, you will also find the Nature Mothers Call sound installation room, Bear’s Den (Karhunpesä) and an Open wilderness hut. The exhibition follows the annual cycle of nature, utilising not only the panorama landscape but also video presentations, dioramas, interactive features, works of art and scale models, among other features. The experience is completed with a world of sounds and light, allowing visitors to live and experience real Finnish nature!
The Red Tower was built in the 15th century as a prison in the Southeastern corner of the medieval fortress that surrounded the town of Pärnu. It is the only defensive tower of the Hanseatic town of New-Pärnu that has been preserved. This granite tower got its name from the brick that used to line the inside and outside of the tower. In the 17th century, the tower had four storeys and a prison cell that was 6 metres deep. Three storeys have been preserved.
In the 19th century, the building was renovated into the town archives, but the building served a number of different purposes over the following century.
Eliisabet's Church, inaugurated in 1750, is the most outstanding sacral building of the Baroque period in Estonia. The beautiful church in the centre of Pärnu invites you to step in and look around to see a pulpit in the Neo-Gothic style from the middle of the 19th century, the altar and the altarpiece “Resurrection”. One of the best organs in Estonia is in Eliisabet's Church and the place is popular as a concert hall among music lovers.
Interesting to know! The church got its name from Russian Empress Jelizaveta thanks to whom the congregation got a Lutheran church.
The beautifully renovated Tõstamaa Manor has a colourful history and it is one of the best-known sights in the area. Even though it has a late classicist appearance, the manor was established in the Middle Ages. It has been used as a school since 1921. You can go on a tour of the manor where you will learn about its history and see its rooms. The wall and ceiling murals, the beautiful main staircase and the room under the mantle chimney are particularly impressive.
Useful information! The last owner of the manor was Alexander Stael von Holstein, a famous Orientalist who even became a professor at the University of Beijing. The crown of the manor, which is under heritage and nature conservation, is oak with a top whose diameter is 23 m.
Founded in 1920, Ugala is one of Estonia's oldest professional drama theatres. It became a professional theatre in 1926. In 1981, the theatre received a new, large and modern building that was one of the most advanced ones in the Baltic countries at the time.
The Ugala offers a varied repertoire from children's stories and musical plays to world classics and contemporary world dramaturgy. Estonian originals also have their place in the programme.
The 30m high red brick water tower was constructed in 1911 and was preserved until today with its small windows and the octangular wooden upper part.
The tower was actively used for about 50 years. After a long time of emptiness, the building was renovated in 2001 as an observation tower. You are welcome to visit and enjoy the beautiful view over the lake and Old Town of Viljandi! Interesting to know: ·Viljandi was one of the first towns in Estonia to receive waterworks and canalisation. ·The three storeys of the tower accommodate one permanent and several travelling exhibitions. The water tower is an important part of the skyline of Viljandi as a so-called town of towers.
The bridge made by the Riga company Felser & Co in 1879 was erected amid the castle hills in Viljandi in 1931. It was a present by the lord of the Tarvastu Manor Karl von Mensenkampf.
Interesting to know: *The bridge is over 50 m long. * It was erected over a valley which is 15 m deep. * At first, the bridge was located over the moat in Tarvastu to make it easier for the family of the lord to visit the chapel in the ruins. The suspension bridge has become a favourite object of both citizens and visitors of Viljandi and one of the town’s important symbols. It was reconstructed in 1995.
Tartu Cathedral, located on the beautiful Toomemägi Hill, is one of the largest churches in Estonia. It is also the only mediaeval church with two towers in Estonia. The construction of the church started in the 13th century and the church was fully completed in the beginning of the 16th century. The church towers were the last things to be finished. During the Livonian War, the church was destroyed and since then, it has not operated as a church. The ruins of the Tartu Cathedral are one of the most prominent examples of brick-Gothic buildings in Old Livonia.
The University of Tartu Museum, which introduces the history of science and university education, operates there. In addition to the museum, there is also the Toompood store, and visitors can also go to the cathedral’s towers, which offer beautiful views.
Alatskivi Castle Park – the biggest park in Tartu County (130 ha) – was established by squire von Stackelberg in the end of the 18th century. The Alatskivi Castle built according to the designs of Arved von Nolcken with the surrounding park is one of the main sights in the area. The towers and terraces of the castle offer beautiful views of the lakes, the church and the surrounding landscape. A marked hiking track runs through the park. The majority of the trees growing in the park are local species, such as lime trees, maples and oaks.
The Brinkhall Manor, located in Turku on the island of Kakskerta, can trace its history back to the 16th century.
The existing neoclassical buildings, completed in 1793, are surrounded by a rich natural and cultural landscape with parks and gardens going back many hundreds of years. The grounds are well known from the Finnish TV series Hovimäki.
Brinkhall Manor has a Café, where you can also find the Interior Museum and exhibitions during the café’s opening hours. Manor tours as well as a variety of events, from concerts to parties and seminars can be arranged on request.
St. Henry's Ecumenical Art Chapel on the island of Hirvensalo is also a pilgrimage for lovers of architecture.
The mystical landscape sculpture was completed on the fringe of the archipelago nature in 2005. In addition to the ecclesiastical events the chapel also holds art exhibitions, tours and a variety of events from concerts to special celebrations.
Finland’s most legendary prison vacated its former residence on Kakolanmäki in 2007, allowing the neighbourhood to enter a new and more auspicious age.
It is an increasingly popular ‘Kakola Before and After’ tours, in which participants will explore the former prison buildings as well as the locations of the most exciting and audacious escapes of all time. The tour then continues on to Kakolan Sali, the hall that served as the prison church, where visitors will view a slideshow of the cells and hear stories of daily life for Kakola’s inmates. The two-hour tour is complete after a delicious serving of cakes and coffee.
Public tours are held from 15th May to 5th September. Detailed times will be published on Kakola's website and Kakola's Facebook page later in the spring. The 2-hour tour costs €20 and includes coffee and cake.
Kuressaare Episcopal Castle, also known as Kuressaare Castle, is one of the most interesting and best-preserved fortresses in Estonia. The castle has become one of the most remarkable buildings in Northern Europe built during the 14th–19th century. There is a history museum which tells stories of the distant past and recent history of Saaremaa and the locals through permanent exhibitions and travelling exhibitions. There are also activities for both children and adults – from treasure hunts to archery!
Sangaste Castle is one of the 21 Southern Estonian places worth discovering that are marked with a yellow National Geographic window; if you are interested in culture and history, it is definitely worth a visit.
Sangaste castle and park were fashioned after the famous Windsor castle in England. The magnificent halls, architecture and history of the castle make this a good place for a big wedding, get-togethers or spending the night in a genuine castle. The castle restaurant serves local food and real rye vodka made from Sangaste rye.
In addition to the castle, the stables, dairy, barn, water tower and arboretum are also open for visitors.
German, Swedish and Italian architectural influences are mixed in the building style of the Town Hall that dates back to the 17th century (architect G. Teuffel). The architectural complex of the Town Hall Square included the Town Hall, Stock Exchange, and residences of the wealthy Swedish citizenry.
Narva Museum today – it is the Narva stronghold, the Northern Courtyard, and the Art Gallery. These are more than architectural monuments, as the castle and the gallery also have exhibition halls.
The exhibition of Narva castle talks about the history of Narva from the 13th century until the beginning of the 20th century. In 1991, the Art Gallery was opened. This allowed the museum to host Estonian and foreign art exhibitions in addition to displaying its own art collection.
In 2007, Põhjaõu was opened as a new tourist attraction in the Northern Courtyard of the castle; this is how Narva Museum interprets the district of artisans dating from the 17th century.
In the 17th century, Narva was a city on the border between Sweden and Russia, which Sweden wanted to turn into a regional capital. The designer of the defence fortifications was a military engineer and architect Erik Dahlberg.
The Northern yard is our attempt of recreating the 17th century. Here, we imagine genuine and vibrant early modern urban quarters with houses, people, and their everyday lives. This way, a guest of the Northern yard is instantly taken 300–400 years back in time.
The Tampere City Hall is a neo-renaissance building in Tampere, Finland, situated at the edge of the Tampere Central Square. The current city hall was built in 1890 and was designed by Georg Schreck. The palatial building has many halls and the city of Tampere holds many events there. During the Great Strike in 1905, the so-called “Red Manifesto” was read from the balcony of the Tampere City Hall. It was one of the last buildings to remain as part of the red base during the final stages of the civil war in 1918, and still shows signs of the battles of that time, including the main entrance and the main staircase where bullet holes are still visible.
Alexander Church, built by Theodor Decker in 1880-1881, is one of the more beautiful churches in Tampere, and a fine example of the Neo-Gothic style, although there are also some elements of other architectural styles. During reconstruction in 1937, the church was badly damaged by fire, and in 1980 it underwent another major renovation. The magnificent altarpiece, “The Glorification of the Saviour”, is by Aleksandra Saltin, the motifs on the chancel walls are by Antti Salmenlinnan, the crucifix is by Ipi and Pekka Pyhältö, and the textiles throughout the church were designed by Anja Savolainen.
The church was named Alexander Church to honour the 25th anniversary of the coronation of Czar Alexander II, as its foundation stone was laid on the anniversary date, 2nd of March 1880. The church was consecrated in December 1881.
Näsinneula is an observation tower in the Särkänniemi Adventure Park in Tampere that overlooks Lake Näsijärvi. Designed by Pekka Ilveskoski, the tower was constructed in 1970-71 and is the tallest free-standing structure in Finland, as well as being the tallest observation tower in Scandanavia at a height of 168m. The tower features a rotating restaurant, like the one in the Puijo tower in Kuopio, which makes a full revolution in 45 minutes. An elevator brings visitors to a height of 120m where the Pilvilinna café is located, the restaurant, called Näsinneula, is one story higher. The elevator is the fastest in Finland, travelling at a rate of 6 metres per second, and reaches the café in 27 seconds.