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 transformed into a choir.
Valjala Church was robbed and partially destroyed during the St. George's Night Uprising in 1343 later reconstructed. In the second half of the 14th century, a new polygonal apse was added to the church. The tower, which is curiously located above the vestry on the southern side of the church, was probably not completed until the 17th century. In the walls of the tower, fragments of archaic trapezoidtombstones can be seen. Archaic tombstones of this type have previously only been found in western Estonia. They might originate from the pre-Conquest period.
The Kuressaare master, Nommen Lorenzen, made the altarpiece in 1820. Besides a medieval baptismal font, other noteworthy antiques inside the church are two Baroque epitaphs (of Andreas Fregius, 1664 and Gaspar Berg, 1667).
In 1888 Gustav Normann built the church's organ. The lightning struck and burned part of the roof in 1922. Dolores Hoffman, who began work on them in the 1970s, made the stained glass windows. They mark the beginning of a new tradition in Estonian stained glass art.
The most impressive elements in the interior design of the church are the high domed vaults with Westphalian ribs and bosses. A ridge in the wall and the remains of girders are evidence of a defense gallery that once ran beneath the windows of the nave. The doorway in the intrados of the chancel arch led to the loft, which served as a refuge.
Claude Monet lived for forty-three years, from 1883 to 1926, in Giverny. With a passion for gardening as well as for colours, he conceived both his flower garden and water garden as true works of art. Walking through his house and gardens, visitors can still feel the atmosphere which reigned at the home of the Master of Impressionnism and marvel at the floral compositions and nymphéas, his greatest sources of inspiration.
In 1890 Monet had enough money to buy the house and land outright and set out to create the magnificent gardens he wanted to paint. Some of his most famous paintings were of his garden in Giverny, famous for its rectangular Clos normand, with archways of climbing plants entwined around colored shrubs, and the water garden, formed by a tributary to the Epte, with the Japanese bridge, the pond with the water lilies, the wisterias and the azaleas.
Today the Monet's Garden is open to the public.