Sights

Viidumäe Nature Reserve

Viidumäe nature reserve is located in Western Saaremaa in the surroundings of the ancient Lake Antsülüs. This is the oldest and highest part of Saaremaa reaching up to 59 m above sea level. Viidumäe nature reserve has been established in 1957, its current area is 2597.6 ha. The main objective of the nature reserve is the protection of the natural complex characteristics of Western Saaremaa, including many unique species, communities and habitats.

The nature reserve has a 23-metre observation and fire tower with the 80-step stairs up to the top of the tower.

Viidumäe study-nature track

Viidumäe study-nature track starts from the parking lot of the nature reserve, one hour in average is spent for crossing the track. The ancient escarpment of Saaremaa and forest communities can be seen. More than 660 species of tracheas grow on Viidumäe nature reserve, including 59 unique plants under protection as the species in Estonia, Saaremaa yellow rattle is the most famous of them.

Käkisilma-Vilsandi hiking track

Käkisilma-Vilsandi hiking track is about two-kilometre long exciting track running along the sea islands and low seabottom from the top of the peninsula of Kuusnõmme, Käkisilma, on foot through sea to the island of Vilsandi. The track is characterized by broad views, seabirds, coastal flora and lambs. By crossing the hiking track the dredged water level of Käkisilma (could reach to the navel of the adult) and quite strong waterflow should be observed, as in parallel to the hiking track there is boat traffic running to Vilsandi.

Vilsandi hiking track

Vilsandi hiking track is characterized by island way of life and sea heritage culture – port facilities, farms of captains and seamen, windmills; exhibition of the history of nature protection and nautics in Mändre farm; beach, junipers, waterfront pastures; view to Vaikas – bird islands where the nature protection of the Baltic countries started; more than 200 years old fire tower and tsar-period fire tower cities including more than 150 years old observatory; coral riffs, swath forests, permanent observation panel of forest, Vesiloo island, plateau gravels, seabirds, forest animals and interesting flora.

Miku forest park

Everyone is all the year round expected to the forest park in Saaremaa, near Loona manor of Vilsandi National Park centre. In Miku forest park you will learn about the flora in Saaremaa, also how the forest products were used, learn about ancient forest works and can even try these by yourself. Take along parents, children, friends, acquaintances and come and see-experience by yourself. If required, order the track guide and forest meal. Contact: 52 69974, [email protected]

Soeginina cliff

Soeginina cliff is located in Lümanda rural municipality at the westernmost point of Saaremaa, on the western coast of Elda peninsula. The length of the cliff is about 500 metres, maximum height is 3.6 metres. Here the dolomites and dolomitized limestones of Soeginina and Vesiku layers of Rootsiküla bed are exposed. The remaining fossils of animal and vegetable material of the Silurian period (450 – 410 million years ago) can be seen on the bank – corals, moss animals, crustaceans, snails and other animals can be seen on the cliff. Such ancient fossils can be seen in only very few places in the world, as the other eras have been stratified on.

Birches and other broadleaved types of trees grow on the cliff which have pushed their roots to the cracks of the cliff. The Nordic liana, the type under protection – ivy – crawls among the tree trunks to the height of 17-18 metres. One of the few natural lindens in Estonia is located at the same place. Innarahu can be seen from Soeginina cliff where gray seals are lying and bring forth young ones during ice-poor winters.

Birth place of August Mälk

The birth place of August Mälk in Lümanda rural municipality, Koovi village has been signified with monument.

August Mälk (1900-1987) was the Estonian novel and short story writer who was born in Lümanda rural municipality, Koovi village, Vähiku farm. He studied in Lümanda ministry school and Kuressaare city school, worked in Torgu and Mõntu school, later worked as the teacher and school master in Lümanda school and played a major role in promoting the cultural life of the area. August Mälk was a real “salt of the land” – chairman of the educational association “Kultuur”, skilful speaker, took floor at the meetings and events, baptized children and buried the dead and instructed the drama group. “Days and nights passed by with the people, nights were mine and during this time there was time to write books and deal with other written works”, the writer himself has mentioned. In 1944 Mälk escaped to Sweden where he continued his literal activities and lived till death.

August Mälk became known with his warm-hearted novels and plays describing the life of his coastal people. His coast novels and stories have recorded the main lifestyles, diligence, hard life conditions and defiant optimism of the coastal people. 18 novels, 9 sets of short stories, 3 narratives, 8 plays, 2 memorial books and 1 children’s book have been published as separate books. His works have been published in Swedish, Finnish, Latvian, German, Dutch and Czech languages. Prior to escape to Sweden he was involved in politics and received Lagle farm located in Tallinn as a gift from the Parliament.

Today Kaja, the niece of August Mälk, with her family lives in Vähiku farm.

Elda cliff

Elda cliff is located in Lümanda rural municipality, in the north-western top of Elda peninsula, on the territory of Vilsandi National Park. The length of the cliff is 400 metres, height 1.8 metres. Here the layers of Rootsiküla bed – dolostones including corals, small stromatolites and oncolites- are exposed. The lower 70-cm thick dolostone layer includes brownish, clayish intermediate layer which consists of shields having covered the front part of the body and head of jawless fish and have relatively well preserved. Elda cliff is different from Soeginina as to its surrounding – no trees or bushes exist, the upper part of the cliff is bare. But just as in Soeginina, the sea breaks major limestone pieces off the cliff and beautiful limestone floor is exposed on the sea coast. Salava Island where the boats came for the refugees during war, can be seen from the cliff. Nootamaa remains behind Salava (the westernmost part in Estonia), Loonalaid can be seen on the right, the view is cut off in the north by Vilsandi with its 200-year old fire tower. Several landing places were also under Elda, as the sea there is quite deep.

Audaku hospital for lepers

Audaku hospital for lepers is the treatment establishment of lepers having located in Lümanda rural municipality in Saaremaa which was founded upon the initiative of Julius Sander, commissary of farmers’ affairs in 1903.

Leprosy is a chronic infectious disease seizing all organs and organ systems. Leprosy was brought to Estonia by the immigrants during the 11-13th century.

The need for new and up-to-date asylum occurred in Saaremaa related to the spread of new and wide-scale leprosy hearths which involved Sõrve, Lümanda, Kihelkonna and Mustjala areas.

The unawareness of the transmission mechanisms of the disease under discussion  and home treatment methods contributed to the spread of the disease – often mud baths were used for treatment which could be taken by the people sick with leprosy as well as the ones who were still untouched of leprosy, by setting themselves thus under risk of infection.

The hospital for lepers was a colony-type establishment where the farmhouses were readjusted for the requirements of both personnel and patients. The hospital for lepers accommodated in total of 13 farmhouses. The main building accommodated ambulance, large kitchen, warehouse, two rooms for patients and room for the clerical services. Most of the sick people lived in five smaller houses meant for 8-10 patients. The doctor’s house was completed by 1924, as the local doctor was earlier missing.

The hospital for lepers operated for 42 years and the spread of leprosy was also announced as defeated in Saaremaa in 1946 with its liquidation. Therefore Audaku hospital for lepers marks one of the most important milestones in the fight against the infectious disease with numerous victims and tough resistance to hinder this spread.

Harilaid

Harilaid is about 4-km long peninsula with the area of 3.62 km². The most north-western point of Harilaid bears the name of Kiipsaare nook, the opposite point in the south-east – the name of Kelba nook. Harilaid heaved from the sea as the island 1000-2000 years ago. The peninsula is characterized by the flora abundant of species and plants under protection. More than 300 types of tracheas have been registered, of which 20 of them are under protection. There are about 100 moss types, four of them are unique in Estonia. As to animals, roes, deer, foxes, wild boars and grey and white hares live in Harilaid.

Diverse hiking tracks are located in Harilaid (the longer track is 10 km, the shorter one 2 km) and there is a lighthouse in the north-western point of the peninsula on the cape of Kiipsaare.

Kihelkonna Mikael church

Mikael church located in Kihelkonna, one of the oldest settlements in Western Saaremaa, belongs among the Estonian oldest churches. According to the records the bishop of Saare-Lääne and the Livonian order started the construction of the church in the middle of the 13 the century at the latest, the church was completed probably in the 1270s.

Kihelkonna church is rich in very old and unique church estate. The altar wall (1591) and pulpit (1604) belonging to the Renaissance era are in their own way among the oldest in Estonia. In 1796 the pulpit was reconstructed, the funnel-shaped lower part and new stairs of the corpus originate from that time. The organ of Kihelkonna Mihkli church has been built by the organ master Johann Andreas Stein in 1805, this was reconstructed in 1890 by F.W. Weissenborn from Jekapils. This is the only known preserved church organ from his workshop and also the oldest preserved church organ in Estonia.

The unique separately located bell-tower in Estonia is situated 200 metres from the church. Only three such separate bell shops have preserved in Europe, but the bell rings only in Kihelkonna chamber.

Kihelkonna earthen stronghold

Kihelkonna earthen stronghold is located on the 5th kilometre of Kihelkonna-Mustjala road, 140 m to the west from the road. The stronghold remains on the area of Odalätsi dunes and is the archaeological monument taken under national protection. The stronghold is presumably originating from the 12th century and was probably used as the asylum-stronghold. Since 1998 the stronghold is under the heritage conservation.

Kihelkonna stronghold depicts a bank covered with pine forest on sand dunes. As to the shape, it is oblong oval with the size of 120×75 metres. The area of the yard is 5300 m². The area is the part of the landscape protection area of Odalätsi. The stronghold is located in the eastern part of the southern mountain-ridge of Odalätsi dunes. The shape of slopes has been changed and bank slopes have been reinforced with biohermic limestone cobbles and plateau gravel.

Kuriku cliff

Kuriku cliff is located in Kihelkonna rural municipality, on the north-western coast of Tagalahe, to the east of Undva village. The length of the steep is 1.3 km, height 3.5 m. The rocks of Ninase series of strata of Jaani bed are exposed. In the middle part of the cliff the fossil formations evolved in the low Paleo-Baltic Sea in the equatorial climate zone more than 400 million years ago which have been mainly created by the corallines, moss animals and corals. Suuriku cliff, the second largest cliff of Saaremaa, is located next to Kuriku cliff.

Loona manor

Loona manor (Kadvel in German) is located in Kihelkonna rural municipality, in the west of Kihelkonna-Lümanda road. The manor has been first mentioned in 1506.

Loona manor belonged to the aristocratic family of Von Lode in the 16th century who built manor as stone fortress dwelling (vassal stronghold). The manor was in the possession of Von Lode up to the year 1791. The manor has been later in the ownership of the families of von Stackelberg, von Berg, von Osten-Sacken as well as von Ekesparre. The manor belonged to the aristocratic family of von Hoyningen-Huene up to its expropriation from 1820s. The last pre-expropriation owner of the manor was Olga von Hoyningen-Huene.

The one-storied stone manor building set up on the cellar rooms of the medieval vassal stronghold has been built in several stages mainly in the 17th-18th century. The building got its modest very Saaremaa-like classicist look preserved up to today in the beginning of the 19th century.

Mihkli farm museum

Mihkli farm museum is located in Viki village, 28 km from Kuressaare towards Kihelkonna. The farm is exposed as a museum from the year 1959. No collection was necessary for establishing the museum: in addition to the full building complex the rich set of commodities was preserved on the site. These objects were almost without exception made by the inhabitants of this farm within two centuries as the handicraft of six generations.

The museum provides an overview about the way of life of our ancestors and the commodities and agricultural machinery they worked with. Being a part of the old farm life provides a possibility to each person to feel oneself as a part of our history.

Odalätsi karst springs

Odalätsi springs are located on the 9th kilometre of Kihelkonna – Pidula road, on the northern edge of Odalätsi village, on the left of the road. These are the springs with abundant water in Saaremaa (up to 200 l/s). Odalätsi springs depict a group of karst springs, the single springs of which are not clearly differentiable. By merging the spring waters make about 20 metre wide sand-stone low watercourse where the picturesque Pidula stream starts. The springs are surrounded by the pine juniper underwood. Several species of plants under protection grow on the swampy coasts of Pidula stream.

The parking lot and boardwalks leading to the forest springs are located near the road. Odalätsi spring water is good for washing eyes, as it has a healing effect and rejuvenating impact according to the legends.

Pidula manor

Pidula manor, called Piddul in German, is located in Kihelkonna rural municipality, more exactly 11 km from Kihelkonna to Mustjala. Pidula manor has been established in the 16th century and is one of the oldest manors in Saaremaa. The first owner of the manor was Joachim Sträcke, the manor was later for the long period connected with von Stackelbergs. The manor was transferred into the ownership of von Tolls through the marriage bonds in 1787. The latter possessed the manor up to the nationalization in 1921. In the years 1920-1970 the manor accommodated local school. The current owner of Pidula manor is Vesa Lappalainen.

Pidula is valued by the art historians as one of the most beautiful Estonian baroque manor thanks to the well-considered proportions and several stylish details such as eaves-cornices of the front façade, corners of hewn dolomite blocks, gorgeous half-hipped roof, attractive portico and nice windows with shutters. The lower part of limestone building with arched ceilings originates from the period of establishing the manor, the new part has been probably built in 1728. The stable with distillery, granary and threshing barn have been built at the same time.

“Keris” cobblestone of Suur Tõll

“Keris” cobblestone of Suur Tõll is located in Kihelkonna rural municipality, 700 metres from the crossroad of Pidula-Üru. This is the largest stone in Kihelkonna rural municipality and is under nature protection. The information stand and parking possibility for 10 cars or 2 buses are next to the stone. The height of the stone is 4.6 metres; length 6.6 metres; width 4.5 metres and perimeter 17.3 metres. The “keris” cobblestone of Suur Tõll is a boulder which just as other boulders have reached us during the last Ice Age with ice. The boulder stayed there when the climate warmed up and ice melted around it. Most of Saaremaa’s boulders originate from the bottom of the Baltic Sea or Finland.

Suuriku cliff

Suuriku cliff is located in Kihelkonna rural municipality, on the north-eastern corner of Tagamõisa peninsula, in the north east of Undva village. Suuriku is on the second place as to the height and length of Saaremaa cliffs. The length of the steep is 1.6 km, the height is up to 20 m. Here the rocks of Mustjala and Ninase series of strata of Jaani bed are exposed. The lower 8 metres of the cliff consist of Silurian rocks, the upper part of the loose coating deposits. In the middle third of the cliff the replacement of the horizontal layers with the ridges (bioherms) of irregular shape are observable which have been mainly built of moss animals.

It is interesting that Tagalahe limestone bluff continues as the second tread under the water. The first escarpment has especially little water on it by Suuriku, therefore several ships have run upon the rocks here. Here also one of the shipwrecks with the highest number of victims in the Estonian marine history took place. In November storm of 1951 the motor sailer “Lydia Koidula” arrived from Loksa with the load of bricks. The storm started and the ship was ordered to go to Tagalahe. The ship appeared to be on the underwater escarpment of Suuriku cliff. The front part of the ship slipped on the escarpment, the back part remained hanging above the abyss. The wave raised the back part so long up and down that it broke down. The men who were on the front part were saved, the persons on the back part died with the captain. The polished red brick pieces can be found in-between the coastal stones even today.

Tagamõisa meadow

Tagamõisa meadow covered with scattered trees is located in Saaremaa, Kihelkonna rural municipality. The preserve has been established in 1957 for the protection of the largest preserved meadow covered with scattered trees of Saaremaa. Tagamõisa meadow is on the third place as to the species of small scale (1m2) in Estonia with its 67 species per 1m2.

The meadows covered with scattered trees are the integral and most characteristic part of Saaremaa’s flora. These have spread in all parts of the island and occur as the larger and established sets in the western part of the island (in Kõruse, Neeme, Tagamõisa, Järumetsa, Pilguse etc). Tagamõisa peninsula has mainly meadow covered with scattered oaks. The oak represented in the tree line is here 5-15 m high with thickset trunk and branches starting from low. In places quite good natural innovation of oak can be noticed. Silver birch, fir, elm, ash, lime add to the oak.

Undva or Tõrvasoo cliff

Undva cliff is located in Kihelkonna rural municipality, in the northern point of Tagamõisa peninsula. The cliff of only couple of metres high is uneven and ragged of the waves and storms of the open sea. Although sea stays ice-free for long term near Undva, the leave of ice changes the coastline each spring and decreases the size of the cliff. The length of the cliff is about 500 metres. Here the rocks of the series of strata of Ninas and Mustjala of Jaani bed are exposed. The fossils remained of the animal and vegetal material of Silurian era (450-410 million years ago) – moss animals, brachiopods, sea lilies. The upper part of the cliff has the 45 cm high and 1.50 metres wide ridge, created of lime skeletons of organisms attached to each other (corals, corallines, sponges etc). The Gulf of Undva under the cliff of Undva is one of the largest hibernation places of coloured eider.

Stebel coastal defence battery

During the Second World War several battles were held in Sõrve between the armies of Germany and USSR. The road leads to Saaremaa’s most powerful and modern coastal defence battery, i.e. Stebel battery of the USSR forces from the 3rd kilometre of Sääre – Kaugatuma road. Stebel’s commando point is located about 100 m towards the west from the fourth kilometre of the same road where the concrete obelisk has been set up. Stebel’s battery consisted of the commando point, two underground cannon towers, watchtower, boilerhouse and military campus.

Panga cliff

Panga (Mustjala) cliff is located on the northern coast of Saaremaa near Panga village. The maximum height of the cliff is 21.3 m.

Panga cliff is the highest of Saaremaa and Muhu cliffs of the northern coast. The range of the cliff is about 2.5 km and this is located on the northern, north-western and western side of Panga cape. The highest place is slightly to the south of the north-western point of the cape. The cliff is divided into two escarpments elsewhere, the second of which remains slightly to the inland of the steep falling to the sea from the height of 13 m.

The nature preserve has a picturesque sunset, one can have a picnic, observe birds, draw health from the eye springs, and make beautiful photos of the nature.

The cliff has a dolomite sundial.

Kaali meteorite craters

The field of Kaali meteorite craters in Saaremaa is the Estonian most unique natural memorial, being also the most effective crater field of Eurasia. Kaali meteorite is the world’s last huge meteorite fallen to the densely populated district. Its fall to the already populated Saaremaa caused major destructions which have been compared with the explosion of the small atomic bomb.

The fall of the meteorite is historically remarkable as the event related to the explosion and as a result due to the impacts transferred to the cultural picture. The new form of surface was created as a result of the explosion which was suitable for use as the stronghold, water taking point and sacrificial forest. The archaeological surveys made in Kaali have confirmed the uniqueness of the crater field.

The meteorite decomposed at the height of 5-10 km and fell to the ground in pieces, the largest of which created the crater of the diameter of 22 m and 8 smaller craters with the diameter of 12-40 m and 1-4 m deep. All craters have probably not been found.