INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT ESTONIA
By geographic location Estonia belong in the Baltic region. By language Estonia belong in Scandinavia. By allies Estonia belong in Europe. By the prevailing religion Estonia belong in Germany. By history Estonia belong in Sweden, Denmark, Livonia and Russia. By climate Estonia belong in the North.
ESTONIA IS THE BEST KEPT SECRET OF SCANDINAVIA
Estonia boasts the 3000-year-old crater of an iron meteorite that influenced the religions and customs of the Baltic Sea region. We have one of the most authentic Medieval Old Towns. The Kunda and Pärnu settlements are older than most cradles of the European civilisation. Our language contains about a thousand words that date back to the last ice age. Our capital has one of the most seamless wireless Internet networks in the world. And about 90% of our population pay their taxes via Internet…
Estonia is a small country with a rich inner life. As a young state that has for long remained in the shadow, the introduction of our inner riches to the whole world is essential in regard to the preservation of Estonia’s uniqueness and the growth of its people.
Being part of several different cultural areas at once, our country offers a wide range of sights and experiences.
EXCITING FACTS ABOUT ESTONIAN ARCHITECTURE
- The largest collection of wheel crosses in the world. The cemetery of St. Olaf’s Church in Vormsi has more than 300 crosses. Additional value – it is located on an exciting small island.
- The unique Mary Magdalene’s Church on Ruhnu Island – built in 1643, being the oldest preserved wooden building in Estonia. Additional value – it is located on an exciting small island.
- Lasnamäe – a monumental sight reminiscent of Soviet era mass architecture.
- St. Catherine’s Church in Karja, Saaremaa is a Gothic church having the biggest number of sculptures in the Baltic States.
- Cathedral of Haapsalu – legend of the White Lady and traditions related to it.
- Estonia has an impressive number of manors – 1245 in all – dating back to different eras, built in various styles using different materials.
- Tartu Jaani Church is a Gothic sanctuary dating back to the 14th century. About 1000 terracotta sculptures in the church are unique in Europe.
INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT ESTONIAN TRADITIONAL CULTURE
- Estonians have one of the biggest needs for personal space in the world – a good example of that being settlement density that is 4 times less compared to Denmark and 12 times less compared to The Netherlands.
- Estonia is small, both by area and population, but it has more than a hundred historical parishes, each one with its own traditional clothing.
- The joint choir of the General Song Festival has the biggest number of singers in the world.
- Juniper berries are believed to help cure 99 diseases, overcome witchcraft and the devil, as there is a cross on top of each berry.
- The power of the blast of the Kaali meteorite was comparable to that of a nuclear bomb. Clearly the influence of such an explosion on the beliefs and understanding of life of ancient people was enormous, influencing the tales of neighbouring nations. The ex-president of Estonia, late historian Lennart Meri, in his research has even suggested that the fall of the “skystone” is related to the fall of Phaeton, son of the sun god in the distant Greek mythology.
INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT ESTONIAN MODERN CULTURE
- Tallinn 2011 – for a year the Estonian capital city will hold the title of European Capital of Culture.
- Estonia ranks 3rd in the world press freedom index, following Norway and Iceland (Reporters Without Borders, 2007).
- The first daily newspaper was published in Tallinn as early as in 1675 (in England – 1702).
- Estonia is egalitarian – 51% of engineers and scientists are women (European Union average being 29%).
- Pianos of the Estonia Klaverivabrik Tallinn are among the most valued ones in the world known for their pure sound.
- The Estonian sense of humour is dark and very self-ironic reminiscent of English and Finnish humour. You can clearly see that in Estonian absurd-prone animations.
- There were many literate people in Estonia already in the 1850s – approximately 80% of the population. This figure exceeded almost all of the grand European civilised nations, the only equal ones being French and German.
INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT ESTONIAN FOOD CULTURE
- For Estonians the word bread stands for a dark rye bread. The food commonly referred to as bread in the rest of the world has a separate word in Estonian – sai (white bread).
- The estate owner of Sangaste manor, the so called rye count Friedrich Georg Magnus von Berg (1845–1938) created the rye of Sangaste. This is the first-known rye breed in the world that is grown even today.
- Estonians still enjoy drilling birches and maples to drink their sap – a custom considered as unheard-of luxury in the old Europe.
INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT THE OLD TOWN
- Tallinn – the oldest capital city in Northern Europe. Tallinn was first put on the world map by an Arab geographer al-Idrisi in 1154. On his map Tallinn was called Kaleweny.
- Tallinn – a uniquely well preserved city of the Hanseatic League. Historians and experts say the true value of Tallinn Old Town lies in its integrity. The medieval city of the Hanseatic League has been preserved in a uniquely authentic way keeping its network of streets almost unchanged from medieval times to today.
- Tallinn Town Hall – an exotic beauty. Tallinn Town Hall is the only preserved Gothic town hall in Northern Europe. Historians find the building architecturally exceptional, as it is rather similar to Italian town halls – for example Palazzo Vecchio in Florence or Palazzo Pubblico in Siena.
- Tallinn – a friendly city of fortress. Kiek in de Kök – one of the 35 defence towers of Tallinn City Wall. During its construction it was the most powerful cannon tower in the Baltics. Its funny name derives from the great view from the high tower to the Old Town kitchens.
- Tallinn – Danish town. According to a legend the Danish got their national flag (Dannebrog) from here. It was thrown down to them from the skies at a decisive moment during a battle fought against Estonians on the 15th of June, 1219. The small coat of arms of Tallinn – a white cross on a red background – recalls those old days.
- Tallinn – home of the Christmas tree. A Christmas tree on Tallinn Town Hall Square was first mentioned in 1441. The custom then was to dance around the tree and celebrate, and later burn it. Until now a small French town called Selestat has claimed itself to be the cradle of the Christmas tree, but their documents are almost a century younger (1521).
- Tallinn – a city for the sweet tooth. To gain the honour of having the first industrial production of marzipan Tallinn is competing with Lübeck. The Estonian confectioner Kalev and Niederegger of Lübeck were both founded in 1806. However, medieval records show that marzipan was sold in the pharmacies of both cities.
- Tallinn – part of the world’s heritage of literature. In 1741 Abram Petrovitch Hannibal, known as “Moor of Peter the Great“, gentleman’s gentleman and secretary of the emperor, great-grandfather of Pushkin, became a general of the artillery of the castle of Tallinn, and later worked here as a general commandant. The action of, chef-d’oeuvre of a Russian die-young writer Sergei Dovlatov, the novel The Compromise, takes place in Tallinn, the book covering his years spent here.
- Tallinn – a living cinema studio. If in the second half of the 20th century some Soviet film studio wanted to shoot a movie with its actions taking place in a Western country, they came to Tallinn, as the streets of the Old Town were the most “Western-looking“ in the whole of the Soviet Union.
INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT ESTONIAN NATURE
- Estonian wooded meadows are among the richest biomes in the world – one square metre has more than 70 species. This figure at times exceeds the diversity in the tropics.
- Taking into account the farthest points and islands of Europe, the central point of Europe is in Saaremaa, Mõnnuste village.
- Hiiumaa as Nordic Bora Bora – on an area of a thousand square kilometers and barely 10,000 inhabitants on this island each visitor can easily find a paradise beach of his own not packed with tourists. For example, the beaches of Luidja or Tahkuna.
- Kaali meteorite crater – the last giant meteorite in the world that fell into a high density area. The power of the blast was comparable to that of a nuclear bomb, leaving clear evidence to influence the tales of the local nations.
- Estonians believe in trees – for example the Tülivere oak tree near Kuusalu helped reconcile married couples. For that the couple had to spend a night standing inside the cavity of the tree.
- Fertility and eroticism-related beliefs are related to the thickest tree of Estonia, the Sipa lime tree.
- According to legends the burial place of the main god of ancient Scandinavians, Odin, is located on Osmussaare. Also the Swedish name of the island, Odinsholm (Odin’s Island), refers to it.
- On the hillsides and forests of Kääriku Skiing Centre meanders a skiing and hiking trail named after the Finnish president Urho Kaleva Kekkonen.
INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT WELLNESS HOLIDAYS IN ESTONIA
- Estonians respect the sauna to such an extent, that they have built them into buses, rafts and even into a cistern of an old fire-engine. The most well-known floating sauna called Püha Müristus (Holy Moses) is on the River Navesti in Soomaa National Park. Sauna-barrel is a mobile sauna that you can take with you even to a winter forest next to a ski track.
- For cultures not familiar with sauna, slapping with twigs is a sign of pure insanity – to heat up your body to an edge of endurance and then beat it with thin twigs. The habitual slappers don’t even say no to stinging nettles and juniper twigs for that purpose.
- At the most popular event on Estonian health trails 12,010 people were registered skiing or doing some other winter sports on the same day. Adding up all health kilometres of the participants the distance was 97,304.2 km. This is more than two spins around the world.
- The Estonian mud treatment tradition started in Haapsalu and dates back to the 1820s. The healing powers of our unique mud have been thoroughly studied, and its diverse usefulness is scientifically proven. Mud from Värska is one-of-a-kind in the world containing a lot of oestrogen, female hormone that makes the mud unbeatable in its skin rejuvenating characteristics.
- For giants of Russian culture, Pyotr Tchaikovsky, Nicholas Roerich and others coming here following the Russian czars – starting from Peter the Great and ending with the last czar Nicholas II – Haapsalu was a highly valued place for creation and recreation. This is a place, where their world-famous works were born.
- No other place has as many spas per capita as there is in Estonia – more than 40 spas for 1.3 million people.
- Kuressaare has only 15,170 permanent inhabitants, while there are 1,230 beds in the spas, making Kuressaare probably the most spa-dense town in the world.