Haapsalu, formed in 1279 and surrounded by sea on the three sides, is well known for its historic and maritime ambiance, warm sea water, curative mud baths and friendly residents.
Haapsalu is a wonderful little town with narrow streets, a miniature town hall and romantic wooden dwelling houses. On the seaside promenade stands Kuursaal, one of the finest wooden buildings in Estonia.
The first Haapsalu mud spa opened its doors in 1825 and since then Haapsalu has attracted spa lovers from all over the world including the Old Russian czars.
The Dome Church of Haapsalu is the biggest single-naved church in the Baltic States and is the town's most important historical and cultural monument.
A small yellow house in Linda Street is the childhood home of Ilon Wikland, who grew up here and later illustrated the children’s books of the world famous Swedish writer Astrid Lindgren.
Haapsalu is well known for its White Lady Days, Old Music Festival, Violin Festival and the August Blues Festival. Throughout the summer the streets and the open-air stages of Episcopal Castle are filled with folk music, opera and rock.
Haapsalu will not only appeal to lovers of mud baths, history or different festivals but also to those people who enjoy sandy beaches, parks and peaceful surroundings.
And if you are in Haapsalu, don’t forget to buy a typical unique hand-woven woollen Haapsalu shawl, which are known locally as “miracles in lace”.
Legend of the White Lady
On the Baptistery’s circular window built into the southern wall of Haapsalu Dome Church a female figure appears during the full moon nights in August. How and why does this woman reveal herself on the chapel’s window for centuries?
A legend says the following: In the Middle Ages, every Canon was supposed to lead a chaste and virtuous life according to the rules of the monastery. Access of women to the Episcopal Castle was forbidden by threat of death. However it happened so that one Canon and an Estonian girl fell madly in love with each other. As the young people could not stay apart, the Canon dressed the girl up as a boy and brought her to the castle to sing in the choir. For long it remained the secret, but one day the deception was discovered. The verdict of the Bishop was harsh: the Canon was thrown to the castle’s dungeon to starve to death, while the girl was immured alive in the wall of the Baptistery, then under the construction. The cries of the poor woman were heard for several days until she finally stopped. Still her soul could not find the peace and, as a result, she appears on the Baptistery’s window to grieve for her lover and to show the immortality of love.