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

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 Classic ...
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

Lavassaare Railway Museum

The third-largest museum of its kind in whole Europe, Estonia's narrow gauge railway museum displays a whole host of locomotives from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania as well as equipment and other train-related artefacts like rail-cars. Best of all, on Saturdays visitors can ride the museums own train. Reference: In Your Pocket
Founded: | Location: Lavassaare, Estonia

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Broch of Gurness

The Broch of Gurness is an Iron Age broch village. Settlement here began sometime between 500 and 200 BC. At the centre of the settlement is a stone tower or broch, which once probably reached a height of around 10 metres. Its interior is divided into sections by upright slabs. The tower features two skins of drystone walls, with stone-floored galleries in between. These are accessed by steps. Stone ledges suggest that there was once an upper storey with a timber floor. The roof would have been thatched, surrounded by a wall walk linked by stairs to the ground floor. The broch features two hearths and a subterranean stone cistern with steps leading down into it. It is thought to have some religious significance, relating to an Iron Age cult of the underground.

The remains of the central tower are up to 3.6 metres high, and the stone walls are up to 4.1 metres thick. The tower was likely inhabited by the principal family or clan of the area but also served as a last resort for the village in case of an attack.

The broch continued to be inhabited while it began to collapse and the original structures were altered. The cistern was filled in and the interior was repartitioned. The ruin visible today reflects this secondary phase of the broch's use.

The site is surrounded by three ditches cut out of the rock with stone ramparts, encircling an area of around 45 metres diameter. The remains of numerous small stone dwellings with small yards and sheds can be found between the inner ditch and the tower. These were built after the tower, but were a part of the settlement's initial conception. A 'main street' connects the outer entrance to the broch. The settlement is the best-preserved of all broch villages.

Pieces of a Roman amphora dating to before 60 AD were found here, lending weight to the record that a 'King of Orkney' submitted to Emperor Claudius at Colchester in 43 AD.

At some point after 100 AD the broch was abandoned and the ditches filled in. It is thought that settlement at the broch continued into the 5th century AD, the period known as Pictish times. By that time the broch was not used anymore and some of its stones were reused to build smaller dwellings on top of the earlier buildings. Until about the 8th century, the site was just a single farmstead.

In the 9th century, a Norse woman was buried at the site in a stone-lined grave with two bronze brooches and a sickle and knife made from iron. Other finds suggest that Norse men were buried here too.