For example, the Russian Orthodox Church has strong roots in Estonia. Its churches and chapels can be found all over the countryside. Be sure to visit Kuremäe, home to the largest active (Russian Orthodox) monastery in Estonia.

Nevsky Cathedral in Toompea is also an impressive, and easily accessible, example of Russian Orthodox architecture and there are many old believers’ Orthodox villages near Lake Peipsi.

The first railway lines in Estonia were built under the orders of Russian Czars and the railway station in Haapsalu is perhaps most notable. The famous Russian composer Tchaikovsky spent his summers in Haapsalu and in honour of his memory a stone bench, where he used to sit, has been preserved.

Czar Peter the Great’s summer residence in Kadriorg Park was designed with Italian villas in mind. It has a classical park around it and is home to the Art Museum of Estonia which includes paintings by Ilya Repin.

Paldiski, Haapsalu and Narva-Jõesuu were once fashionable resort destinations for the Russian cultural elite.

Russian Rule in Estonia:

  • 1030 – 1061 Russian Prince Yaroslavl “The Wise” held the area around the fort now known as Tartu.
  • In 1710 defeat in the Great Northern War meant Estonia was conquered by Russian Czar Peter the Great. This rule ended in 1917 when, during the confusion surrounding the Russian Revolution, Estonia declared independence.
  • In 1939 Estonia was occupied by Soviet Union until 1991, when the Soviet Union collapsed and Estonia once again asserted its independence.