The best place to get an overview of all those influences is to take a tour in Kadriorg Park and visit the Modern Art Museum “Kumu”.
It is natural, that the capital Tallinn is home to many of Estonia’s famous monuments.
For example “Russalka”, created by one of the most famous Estonian sculptors, Amandus Adamson, is situated on the coast in Kadriorg. “Russalka” is a statue of a black angle rising high, holding a golden orthodox cross and looking at the sea, towards the location where an iron ship of the same name was shipwrecked.
A more recent example of Estonian sculpture is Mare Mikoff’s piece “Hämarik” near the Viru Hotel and Shopping Centre. Hämarik (Dawn) is a character from Estonian mythology and portrayed in this piece as a Venus-like, fragile, feminine woman flirting with money and greed.
On the other side of the Viru Hotel and Shopping Centre, right in the heart of Tallinn, you will find a truly classical sculpture, “Merineitsi” by Edgar Viies. In Estonian language, “merineitsi” (mermaid) translates as “virgin of the sea” and the statue became one of the most loved artworks of the Soviet era, when it was placed next to Viru Hotel (legendary meeting point of the Western and Soviet) and thus became a symbol of freedom and hope.
A much disputed monument, the Bronze Soldier, representing the socialist approach to heroism and casualties of war, was moved in 2007 and played a key role in brief riots on the streets of Tallinn. It can now be found at the Kaitseväe Kalmistu (military cemetery) in Filtri street, a few kilometres from the city centre.
Jüriöö Park displays a smaller statue, built in 1930s, commemorating the Estonian uprising against slavery and foreign nobility in 1343.
The old university city of Tartu has many notable statues and monuments. For example the “Wilde and Vilde” statue outside a local pub shows, Irish poet and writer, Oscar Wilde sitting with Estonian writer, Eduard Vilde. A reproduction of this statue has also been donated to the Irish town of Galway.
Another symbol of youthful and enlightened Tartu are the “Kissing Students” found in the main square atop a fountain.
Sculptures Around Estonia
Pärnu, the seaside resort, is rich in smaller sculptures – just take a walk around this beautiful small city and you are bound to run into artwork, such as displayed in front of the Chaplin Center of Modern Art or classical pieces, like the statue of Estonian first female poet Lydia Koidula crafted by Adamson (and bronzed in Italy). Modern sculpting festivals are organised in Pärnu: sand sculptures during summer, snow and ice in the winter.
Rakvere represents its founding history with a giant bronze bull called “Tarvas” – urban legend claims rubbing it’s ‘family jewellery’ will bring you fertility and endurance, so it is no wonder this is the shiniest part of the sculpture...
Also worth mentioning as a true example of Estonian’s sarcastic sense of humour and love of kitsch art is a statue in Kolga-Jaani called “Ode to emptiness”, dedicated to “tabloid stars”.