Estonia's versatile cultural heritage has not gone unnoticed. From old songs, wedding and sauna tradition to the capital city's architecture, there's a whole range UNESCO listed treasures to explore for all sorts of holidays.
Tallinn Old Town
The origins of Tallinn date back to the 13th century, when a castle was built here by the crusading knights of the Teutonic Order. Soon after, it developed as a major centre of the Hanseatic League, and its wealth is demonstrated by the opulence of the public buildings, such as the churches and merchant houses, which have survived to a remarkable degree despite the ravages of fire and war in the intervening centuries.
Seto singing tradition
Seto leelos take you back centuries, to somewhere ancient and rural. Setos themselves consider singing natural and everyday tradition, a way to express thoughts and emotions, to collect memories and pass them on to the future generations. The singing tradition in Setomaa is kept alive and well by the older and younger generations alike. The most famous local singers throughout the history were able to recall up to 20,000 rhymes, earning the title "Seto Mother of Songs."
Kihnu islanders' traditional lifestyle
Located off Estonia's west coast, Kihnu Island is a home to a community of about 600 islanders. The island still bears close ties to its traditional roots kept alive and well to the current day. Using traditional looms and local wool, the women weave and knit mittens, stockings, skirts and blouses which often feature bright colours, vivid stripes and intricate embroidery. The Kihnu wedding ceremony is based on pre-Christian beliefs and lasts for three days.
Võromaa smoke sauna
The smoke sauna tradition is an important part of everyday life in southernmost Estonian community of Võromaa. It comprises a rich set of traditions including the actual bathing customs, the skills of making bath whisks, building and repairing saunas, and smoking meat in the sauna. The sauna is a building or room heated by a stove covered with stones and with an elevated platform for sitting or lying. It has no chimney, and the smoke from burning wood circulates in the room. The smoke sauna tradition is primarily a family custom, practised usually on Saturdays but also before major festivals or family events to relax the body and mind.
Estonian Song and Dance Celebration
Taking place every five years and involving thousands of choir singers and dancers dressed in colourful national garments, the roots of this lively outdoor festival stretch back as far as 1869, the dawn of Estonian national movement. While the first song celebration took place in Tartu (1869), the growing interest and popularity meant that the festival soon needed a place to call its own. From 1928 onwards the home of the much-loved festival has been the Tallinn Song Festival Grounds in the midst of the scenic pine grove on the coast of Tallinn. Dance celebration is a more recent tradition dating back to 1934 and today the two traditions are seen as inseparable by the modern audiences.
Photo authors include Kaspar Orasmäe, Jaak Nilson.