Though modest in size, Põltsamaa is a pretty town that attracts a great deal of visitors not only for its aforementioned parks and roses, but also for its river and the numerous white bridges spanning it. And the church of St. Nicholas – the pride of all of Põltsamaa’s residents – welcomes visitors from afar with its distinctive red tower.
Still standing in the centre of the town, surrounded by moats, are its original walls, which date back to the 13th century.
Photo: Põltsamaa Castle
The courtyard of the castle draws in visitors, who can find out all about the town’s history and other tourist information at the Põltsamaa Museum. Here you can also take a look at an exhibition of the Estonian Press Museum, visit the unique pART gallery and shop for souvenirs made by leading local handicraft specialists. The castle courtyard comes into its own in June, when Põltsamaa celebrates Castle Day with music, a handicraft fair, a race and a party – to which everyone’s invited!
Since Põltsamaa is known as the wine capital of Estonia, it’s worth trying the local varieties. You can sample these at the Wine Cellar, again in the castle courtyard. The cellar is also home to the town’s Food Museum, whose exhibits include such unusual items as the food that was rationed to Soviet cosmonauts in days past.
The green heart of Põltsamaa is adorned with an island of roses, on which you will find almost 2000 blooming bushes. The town is home to the biggest rose garden in the Baltic States (and indeed one of the ten biggest in Europe). With 1000 different roses on display, it is sure to captivate visitors of all ages.
Põltsamaa has been a summer mecca for opera lovers since 1996, when the town joined forces with Eesti Kontsert for the staging of seasonal symphonies. This has since evolved into the Põltsamaa Fest series of concerts, which attracts well-known musicians and soloists from all over Europe. In addition to its wines and roses and the concerts it hosts, Põltsamaa is also well known for its many bridges – of which it has 18!
It is also worth visiting Sõpruse or ‘Friendship’ park, where renowned public and cultural figures and sports stars from Estonia and abroad have planted trees. Today there are more than 6000 trees in the park, most of them brought in as saplings from nearby Luua Nursery. The park is home to some beautiful granite sculptures, as well as one of the hero of the national epic, Kalevipoeg, and Tee Olümposele or ‘The Road to Olympus’, in whose columns are inscribed the names of all of Estonia’s medal-winning Olympic athletes.
Local schools also play an active part in organising the town’s cultural life. Since 2001 the town has hosted Kuldsuu, the annual all-Estonian public speaking competition, and its music school hosts summer camps for guitarists and brass, wind and string instrument players, drawing participants from around the country.
Those interested in more extreme forms of recreation won’t be disappointed in what Põltsamaa has to offer, either. Here you can put your skills to the test on the Kuningamäe go-karting track and the Piiroja rally circuit or even go canoeing along the Põltsamaa River.
And for those who have slightly longer to spend in the area, it’s well worth visiting places close by – such delightful manors as Lustivere, Adavere, Võisiku, Pajusi and Puurmani are all within a short distance of Põltsamaa itself.