The northern Estonian limestone coast is like a stony version of a world history book, bearing witness to tectonic plate movements and collisions, volcanic eruptions, meteorite impacts and the abrasive action of the sea and ancient rivers. Even now, 600 million years later, these sedimentory rock layers are exactly the same as they were deposited on the seabed.
Limestone cliffs rich in fossils
The limestone klint originated from a tropical sea – at a time when the Baltic Shield was still drifting near the equator. The klint consists of the fossilized remains of the calcareous shells of marine organisms. Many fossils can be seen in it as well as in the surrounding landscape, such as corals and trilobites.
The thin layer of soil on the klint is home to unique plant communities – alvar meadows, rich in junipers, can be found in Estonia and some parts of southern Sweden. Between limestone layers there is oil shale, Estonia’s primary source of fossil fuel; it formed from primeval algae. Estonian oil shale is considered among the highest quality in the world.
Spectacular waterfalls and rapids
Flowing over the klint, most of northern Estonia’s rivers form picturesque rapids and small waterfalls. The highest is the 32-metre Valaste falls, and the most powerful is Jägala falls. The most exciting time to visit is winter, when the water freezes, forming fascinating ice caves and formations.
Limestone is Estonia’s national rock, and has also been called ‘Nordic marble’. It has been used for over 2,000 years as a building material. Tallinn’s Old Town and many fortresses and manors in the country were built of limestone. It was even exported to St. Petersburg for the construction of the tsar’s palaces.
Listen to the sounds along the cliffs: