Estonian islands, located a short ferry ride from mainland, have many old churches and crumbling fortresses left behind by pagan Estonian warriors, German knights and Soviet military. You can bike, walk or drive along the dusty rural roads passing stretches of coastline. Also the 19th-century lighthouses and old windmills are worth of seeing.
Kuressaare Castle from the 14th century is a symbol of Kuressaare and all of Saaremaa island. The convent building at the castle is the only surviving medieval fortified building in the Baltic States without noteworthy architectural alterations.
The construction of the stronghold was closely connected with the Estonians' fight against the German feudals. In 1227 the last Estonian county - Saaremaa surrendered to the German crusaders. A small feudal state was formed of Läänemaa and the West- Estonian islands in the years 1228-1234: it was Saare-Lääne (Oesel-Wiek) Bishopric with the territo ...
The St.Caherine's Church of Muhu is considered one of the most remarkable early-Gothic buildings in Estonia. It was first mentioned in Hermann von Wartberge's Chronicle dated 1276. The exterior architecture of the Muhu Church is a strict monumental style and its originality is prominent. The Muhu Church has preserved its original shape. Around 1663, a little wooden steeple was added to the church, but perished together with the roof in 1941. In 1993, during the restoration period an additional roof was constructed on the facade of the church to protect the church bell.
As for the inte ...
The written history of Pädaste Manor dates back to the year 1566. On the 25th of June of that year Fredrik II, King of Denmark handed the manor over to the von Knorr family in recognition of services rendered to the Danish Crown. The manor and surrounding farms were an important centre of agricultural activity already by that time.
It must have been much earlier, not long after bishop Albert von Buxhoeveden by decree of Pope Honorius III led the last and decisive battle on Muhu Island against the Estonian heathens that this enchanting site was selected to build a manor.
The origins of t ...
The current building of Pöide Church is believed to be built on the remains of a chapel built in 13th century. After the conquest of Saaremaa in 1227, the eastern part of Saaremaa belonged to the Livonian Order, who built a fortress at Pöide as their headquarters during the second half of the 13th century. This fortress was destroyed by the Saaremaa natives during the wave of uprisings against the occupying forces that took place in Estonia and Saaremaa during St.George's Night Uprising of 1343. There was a chapel on the southern side of the fortress, and the walls of this chapel ...
The medieval church of Saint Peter and Paul in Kaarma is one of the most interesting sights in Saaremaa island. The building was probably started right after the uprising of Saaremaa inhabitants in 1261. It was a typical church of the Osilia Bishophric - a simple nave with a slightly narrower choir. The steeple was added in the 15th century and thus Kaarma became the first church with a steeple on Saaremaa.
The church is built on unstable ground and during construction an accident seems to have occurred, and part of it seem to have collapsed. The nave did not acquire its present vaults until ...
Kõpu Lighthouse s one of the best known symbols and tourist sights on the Estonian island of Hiiumaa. It is one of the oldest lighthouses in the world, having been in continuous use since its completion in 1531.
The most important East–West shipping lane in the Baltic Sea passed the Hiiu sandbank. Already before the year 1490 the Hanseatic merchants were seeking permission to mark this peninsula with an outstanding landmark. On 20 April 1500 Bishop Johannes III Orgas (John Orgies) agreed to allow a massive stone pillar without any openings. To cover the building costs, Tallinn ci ...
The building of St. Michael’s church in Kihelkonna was probably started in the mid-13th century and completed between 1270-1290. In the early Middle Ages Kihelkonna was one of the most important centers in Saaremaa. It was situated on the road connecting the western part of Saaremaa with mainland Estonia. There was also a harbor of considerable importance here. Both the Bishop and the Livonian Order contributed to the construction of the church, which was begun in the middle of the 13th century. Initially, a fortified western tower, as wide as the nave, had been planned but its construct ...
Saint Martin's Church of Valjala is the oldest church in Estonia. Immediately after the conquest of 1227, a stone chapel was erected by Teutonic knights in Valjala not far from the ancient stronghold. Its walls form the lower part of the present church choir. On the southern side of the chapel, there was a vestry.
Soon after completion, the chapel was decorated with murals, the remaining fragments of which may be seen on the northern wall of the church (six seated apostles in a Romanesque framing). In 1240 construction of the single-nave church was started. The original chapel was transfo ...
Maasi medieval fort-castle was built with the forced labour of islanders. That's how the ruling Liivi order punished indigenous inhabitants for the uprising, which had destroyed orders previous stronghold. Seaside fort-castle was undefeated until destroyed by Danes. The fortress was blown up in 1576 by the Danes in an attempt to forestall the Swedish invasion and nothing was done for the next 300 years. 8m walls that survived the destruction have become a landmark.
Dejevo village was established during the Soviet era. There were several missile bases and garrisons around the village. After soldiers left and missiles were hauled away, the village was totally abandoned. In 2011 most of the brick and concrete buildings on the surface were demolished.
Olargues is a good example of a French medieval town and rated as one of the most beautiful villages in France. It was occupied by the Romans, the Vandals and the Visigoths. At the end of the 11th century the Jaur valley came under the authority of the Château of the Viscount of Minerve. The following centuries saw a succession of wars and epidemics, and it was not until the 18th century that Olargues became re-established. This was due to the prosperity of local agriculture and artisanal industry.
The Pont du Diable, 'Devil's Bridge', is said to date back to 1202 and is reputed to be the scene of transactions between the people of Olargues and the devil. The old village is clustered around the belltower, which was formerly the main tower of the castle (Romanesque construction). The old shops have marble frontages and overhanging upper storeys. A museum of popular traditions and art is to be found in the stairs of the Commanderie.
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