Facts about Haapsalu and Lääne County

  • The county capital, Haapsalu, was awarded town rights in 1279.
  • Haapsalu is 101 km from Tallinn, 184 km from Helsinki, 292 km from Riga, 399 km from St. Petersburg, 554 km from Stockholm, 593 km from Vilnius, 966 km from Moscow and 2280 km from Brussels.
  • Haapsalu is Estonia’s oldest resort, famous for its therapeutic mud – in which 51 people simultaneously bathed on the Promenade in 2010, setting a new world record.
  • All of the tsars who ruled Russia in the 19th century visited Haapsalu, inspiring such cultural giants as Tchaikovsky to do the same.
  • For almost 300 years (between 1279 and 1559) Haapsalu was the capital of an extensive bishopric directly linked to Rome and many other key European centres.
  • Sound in Haapsalu’s cathedral enjoys a duration of 11 seconds, providing outstanding acoustics for concerts.
  • The 216-metre platform at the historical railway station is completely covered from one end to the other.
  • The Haapsalu shawl is a true work of art, with a knit so fine that the entire article can fit through a person’s ring.
  • Ronja castle, from the illustrations of Swedish author Astrid Lindgren’s children’s books as drawn by Ilon Wikland, is similar to Haapsalu’s castle.
  • At Lääne County Museum you’ll see the world’s oldest preserved monument to Friedrich Schiller.
  • The world’s largest collection of circular crosses can be found in the graveyard at St. Olaf’s church on Vormsi – there are more than 300 in total.
  • At just 13.6 x 7.1 metres, the church in Nõva is one of the smallest in Estonia.
  • The sands on Nõva beach are said to sing – when you step on them, the friction between the grains produces a sound similar to that made when playing a violin.                                                                                                                                 
  • The altar paintings in Lääne-Nigula church (The Last Supper and The Resurrection) are copies of paintings of the same name by Leonardo da Vinci.
  • The Neugrund meteorite crater on the sea bed just off the island of Osmussaar measures 7 km in diameter, making it the biggest in the country.
  • Millions of aquatic birds make stops along the coast of the county in spring and autumn on their way to and from their nesting sites in the Arctic.
  • Matsalu National Park is the oldest Ramsar site of international importance in Estonia.