Museums in Estonia

Tallinn City Museum

The building of the City Museum dates from the 14th century. The oldest record in the real estate register dates from 1363. The permanent exhibition provides an overlook of Tallinn’s history through centuries – beginning with prehistory and ending with Estonia’s regaining of independence in 1991. Various sectors of medieval society are explained using a combination of texts, artefacts, life-sized models and sound e ...
Founded: 1363 | Location: Tallinn, Estonia

Estonian Maritime Museum

Estonian Maritime Museum (founded 1935) is located in the cannon tower, Paks Margareeta (Fat Margaret), forming a part of medieval defence system. The exposition on the history of Estonian maritime - ship- and boat building, ports, navigational aids on the ships, lighthouses – is displayed on the four floors of the museum. In addition to the main exposition the exchangeable exhibitions take place on the ground floo ...
Founded: 1935 | Location: Tallinn, Estonia

Seaplane Harbour Museum

The Seaplane Harbour is the newest and one of the most exciting museums in Tallinn. It tells stories about the Estonian maritime and military history. The museum’s display, that comprises of more than a couple of hundred large exhibits, revitalizes the colourful history of Estonia. British built submarine Lembit weighing 600 tones is the centrepiece of the new museum. Built in 1936 for the Estonian navy, Lembit served ...
Founded: | Location: Tallinn, Estonia

Museum of Occupations

The Museum of Occupations was opened on July 1, 2003, and is dedicated to the 1940-1991 period in the history of Estonia, when the country was occupied by the Soviet Union, then Nazi Germany, and then again by the Soviet Union. During most of this time the country was known as the Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic.
Founded: 2003 | Location: Tallinn, Estonia

Läänemaa Museum

The museum is located in the former Town Hall in Lossiplatsi Square. It exhibits the history of Haapsalu and Läänemaa from the pre-Christian era right up to Haapsalu's success as a resort town in the 1930s. Displays include the recreated interior of an early 20th-century farm dwelling, a ship and the pre-war mayor's office.
Founded: | Location: Haapsalu, Estonia

Käsmu Sea Museum

Käsmu Sea Museum is located in a former border guard station building from Soviet Occupation period and presents the history of the village. The museum exhibits reflect all the areas connected to the sea - seafaring, fishing, smuggling trade and also the sea as a part of nature and as an object of photography and visual arts. Reference: Wikitravel
Founded: 1993 | Location: Käsmu, Estonia

Pärnu Museum

Pärnu Museum exhibits the 11,000 years of Pärnu City and County history from the mid-Stone Age through the present. There's also a recreated Soviet-furnished room to remind of the more recent past.
Founded: 1895 | Location: Pärnu, Estonia

Viljandi Museum

The museum of Viljandi exhibits the history of Viljandimaa from prehistoric times to Soviet era. The museum was established in 1878 and it is located to the oldest stone building in the city, built by J. J. Schoeler in 1780.
Founded: 1878 | Location: Viljandi, Estonia

Muhu Museum

Muhu Museum is situated in the historical Koguva village. The museum exhibits the old village school from the 19th century, traditional peasant culture, local school history and traditional textiles. The heart of the museum is Tooma farmstead which is a representative example of Muhu farm architecture. In its outbuildings old agricultural and fishing equipment is exhibited. In the main building, visitors find a small intr ...
Founded: | Location: Muhu, Estonia

Tartu City Museum

The Tartu City Museum was established in 1955 for collecting, studying and displaying the objects connected with town history as well as other sources. The permanent exhibition “Dorpat. Yuryev. Tartu”, staged at the Tartu City Museum in 2001, is a museological interpretation of the history of Tartu. Also the exhibition of Tartu peace treaty of 1920 is updated to be a permanent. The museum building itself is a ...
Founded: 1790 | Location: Tartu, Estonia

A. Le Coq Beer Museum

Tartu is the birthplace of Estonian beer industry and has been a beer town for nearly a thousand years. In order to perpetuate the history of industrial brewing, the Beer Museum was opened on July 1, 2003. The Beer Museum is located on the territory of A. Le Coq in a malt tower, built in 1898. The museum is located on six floors and the total number of exhibits amounts to approximately 2000. The exhibition explains brewin ...
Founded: 2003 | Location: Tartu, Estonia

KGB Cells Museum

During the 47 years of Soviet occupation in Estonia approximately 122,000 people fell victims to different repressions from the security organs and more than 30,000 of them lost their life. The South Centre of Soviet security service NKVD and later KGB was located in Tartu, in the so-called gray house. The dungeon was located in the basement and cells have been restored to the original appearance as part of the museum's ...
Founded: 2001 | Location: Tartu, Estonia

Mihkli Farm Museum

Mihkli Farm Museum, found in 1959, is a previous farm typical to West-Saaremaa, with many architectural sights as well. Most buildings lie in a circle around the yard, part of which is separated by a stick fence as flower garden. Farm is surrounded by old ash trees, leafy branches used to be cut from them for sheep's winter feed. In addition to a complete set of buildings there was a rich collection of everyday items ...
Founded: 1959 | Location: Saaremaa, Estonia

Hiiumaa Museum

The head office of the Hiiumaa Museum has been based in Kärdla since 1998, located in the building known as Pikk Maja (Long House). Pikk Maja was built in the 1830s as a residence for the directors of the Hiiu-Kärdla textile factory. It was since then home to several generations of the Ungern-Sternberg and Peltzer families. During the period of Soviet occupation, different establishments and offices used the bui ...
Founded: 1998 | Location: Kärdla, Estonia

Tartumaa Museum

Tartumaa Museum was founded in 1959 to exhibit the history and culture of Tartumaa county. There is for example a rich collection of coins and archaelogical findings in the permanent exhibition. Reference: Tapio Mäkeläinen 2005. Viro - kartanoiden, kirkkojen ja kukkaketojen maa. Tammi, Helsinki, Finland.
Founded: 1959 | Location: Elva, Estonia

Saku Brewery Museum

The brewing traditions of Saku Brewery reach back to the beginning of the 19th century. The Saku estate was owned by count Karl Friedrich Rehbinder who built a distillery and a brewery on his estate. The brewery was first documented in October 1820. It is believed that the production of beer, for the purpose of sale to pubs and taverns begun during the autumn of that year. From the end of 19th century onward Saku has rema ...
Founded: | Location: Saku, Estonia

Narva Art Gallery

Housed in an 18th-century magazine building in the Old Town area, the Narva Museum's Art Gallery covers a wide range of art, from classic foreign works to recent paintings by students of the Ida-Virumaa Art School. Don't miss the upstairs hall exhibiting rare and exquisite Russian crosses and icons, or the large hall that's home to the museum's pride and joy - a collection of paintings, sculptures and porc ...
Founded: | Location: Narva, Estonia

Estonian Agriculture Museum

Estonian Agricultural Museum is located at the historic Ülenurme Manor. It plays an important role in preservation of rural heritage and rural culture. There are displayed peasant Estonian work tradition – sowing of fields, grain harvest, linen production, animal husbandry, bee keeping and technological advancement.
Founded: | Location: Ülenurme, Estonia

Järvamaa Museum

Järvamaa Museum was found in 1905. The former veterinary clinic in Paide Lembitu park was adjusted for museum building in 1950s. The permanent exhibition about the county was opened in 1956. Nowadays museum still functions in the same building. You can visit Järvamaa museum in Paide from Tuesday till Saturday. Reference: Visit Estonia
Founded: 1905 | Location: Paide, Estonia

Valga Roman Catholic Church

The church was built of natural stone and bricks in 1907. Lithuanian and Polish railway workers were actively involved in building the church. The church operated until 1940 and from 1945, the building was used as a warehouse and later as a gym. The extension of the church was built in 1995 and the church was renovated.
Founded: 1906-1907 | Location: Valga, Estonia

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Porta Nigra

The Porta Nigra (Latin for black gate) is the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps. It is designated as part of the Roman Monuments, Cathedral of St. Peter and Church of Our Lady in Trier UNESCO World Heritage Site. The name Porta Nigra originated in the Middle Ages due to the darkened colour of its stone; the original Roman name has not been preserved. Locals commonly refer to the Porta Nigra simply as Porta.

The Porta Nigra was built in grey sandstone between 186 and 200 AD. The original gate consisted of two four-storied towers, projecting as near semicircles on the outer side. A narrow courtyard separated the two gate openings on either side. For unknown reasons, however, the construction of the gate remained unfinished. For example, the stones at the northern (outer) side of the gate were never abraded, and the protruding stones would have made it impossible to install movable gates. Nonetheless, the gate was used for several centuries until the end of the Roman era in Trier.

In Roman times, the Porta Nigra was part of a system of four city gates, one of which stood at each side of the roughly rectangular Roman city. The Porta Nigra guarded the northern entry to the Roman city, while the Porta Alba (White Gate) was built in the east, the Porta Media (Middle Gate) in the south, and the Porta Inclyta (Famous Gate) in the west, next to the Roman bridge across the Moselle. The gates stood at the ends of the two main streets of the Roman Trier, one of which led north-south and the other east-west. Of these gates, only the Porta Nigra still exists today.

In the early Middle Ages the Roman city gates were no longer used for their original function and their stones were taken and reused for other buildings. Also iron and lead braces were broken out of the walls of the Porta Nigra for reuse. Traces of this destruction are still clearly visible on the north side of the gate.

After 1028, the Greek monk Simeon lived as a hermit in the ruins of the Porta Nigra. After his death (1035) and sanctification, the Simeonstift monastery was built next to the Porta Nigra to honor him. Saving it from further destruction, the Porta Nigra was transformed into a church: The inner court of the gate was roofed and intermediate ceilings were inserted. The two middle storeys of the former gate were converted into church naves: the upper storey being for the monks and the lower storey for the general public. The ground floor with the large gates was sealed, and a large outside staircase was constructed alongside the south side (the town side) of the gate, up to the lower storey of the church. A small staircase led further up to the upper storey. The church rooms were accessible through former windows of the western tower of the Porta Nigra that were enlarged to become entrance doors (still visible today). The top floor of the western tower was used as church tower, the eastern tower was leveled, and an apse added at its east side. An additional gate - the much smaller Simeon Gate - was built adjacent to the East side of the Porta Nigra and served as a city gate in medieval times.

In 1802 Napoleon Bonaparte dissolved the church in the Porta Nigra and the monastery beside it, along with the vast majority of Trier"s numerous churches and monasteries. On his visit to Trier in 1804, Napoleon ordered that the Porta Nigra be converted back to its Roman form. Only the apse was kept; but the eastern tower was not rebuilt to its original height. Local legend has it that Napoleon originally wanted to completely tear down the church, but locals convinced him that the church had actually been a Gaulish festival hall before being turned into a church. Another version of the story is that they told him about its Roman origins, persuading him to convert the gate back to its original form.

In 1986 the Porta Nigra was designated a World Heritage Site, along with other Roman monuments in Trier and its surroundings. The modern appearance of the Porta Nigra goes back almost unchanged to the reconstruction ordered by Napoleon. At the south side of the Porta Nigra, remains of Roman columns line the last 100 m of the street leading to the gate. Positioned where they had stood in Roman times, they give a slight impression of the aspect of the original Roman street that was lined with colonnades. The Porta Nigra, including the upper floors, is open to visitors.