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Places of Interest in Saaremaa and Muhu page 2 PDF Prindi

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The Sõrve peninsula
is 32 kilometers long, and at its widest point it is ten kilometers wide. At the southernmost tip is Sõrve lighthouse. The first lighthouse was built there in the middle of the 17th century. The present one was built in 1958 - 1960.
Sõrve was the last stronghold of the German forces in Estonia, and was the place of bloody battles between the German and Soviet forces during WW II. The Soviets built on of their mightiest defense complexes on Sõrve. It is known as Stebel's battery. The road to Stebel's battery turns from the Sääare - Kaugatuma road, at the three kilometer mark.
On the same road, approximately a hundred meters from the road at the four kilometer mark is Stebel's command center, where there is a concrete obelisk.
There is an observation tower that looks like a windmill. There are also two underground cannon emplacements, and remains of other builldings. The cannon emplacements were 16 meters deep two - story concrete constructons, with two meter thick concrete walls and a 3.5 meter thick concrete roof. Cannonfire could reach a distance of 40 kilometers. When the German forces were closing in, the Soviets blew the batteries up. After that, they filled with water.
The self - proclaimed Torgu Kingdom is also located on Sõrve. At one time it even issued its own wooden money, and had a few of representatives in Parliament.

Sääre History Room
In Sääre, Sõrve

Tagamõisa puisniit.
A "puisniit" is a meadow that is annually mowed and covered with scattered trees. They are important not only because of their very picturesque look, but they provide the necessary environment for a great number of plants and animals, especially birds. More different plant species have been found in a square meter of puisniit than in any other environment. When most of Saaremaa was covered with self - sufficient farms, and hay was made for the farm animals, puisniits were very typical of Saaremaa's landscape. Some still exist on the western part of the island. (At Kõruse, Neeme, Tagamõisa, Järumeta, Pilguse)

Tuiu or Nõmme kurisud.
A kurisu is a depression in the ground with a hole in the middle into which water flows, very much like a basin. The ones in question are located in Mustjala parish, in Tuiu village, about 100 to 350 meters north, southeast from Nõmme farm, in the woods. There are four kurisu's located on five hectares of land, into which water flows from the bogs surrounding Järise lake during spring floods.

Tuiu iron smelting hills
The Tuiu iron smelting hills were the largest Old Estonian and medieval iron producing center in Estonia. The remains of iron smelting were noticed by amateur archaeologists during the 19th century. They were then believed to be the work of Swedish foundrymen.
Archaeologist Aita Kustin rediscovered them in 1961, and the first excavations took place the next year. The excavations have continued since 1986, and they have included reconstruction of the type of smelters that where then used. And it was proven than iron indeed could be melted in them. The most successful experiments produced over two kilos of iron.

Tumala sacred rock
The Old Estonians had a sacred relationship with big rocks. It is thought that this belief is of Germanic origin and reached Estonia sometime during 1000 BC.
These rocks are dimpled with shallow man-made depressions. One of the most attractive is in Pöide parish in Tumala village on Tuuleveski hill. It is about one meter in heighth and 1.25 meters wide. There are over 60 shallow depressions chipped into the rock, most of which are four to six centimeters in size. Tradition tells of offerings being placed into the depressions well into the 1920's.

Tõlluste Manor
was founded in 1528 when the Bishop of Saare - Lääne, G. von Tiesenhausen expropriated the land. During the second half of the 16th century, the neighboring Tõlsen lands were added. The manor apparently got its name from the Tõlsen family. According to tradition, the manor received its name from Saaremaa's folk hero, the giant Big Tõll. Big Tõll is even supposed to be buried close by.

Undva bluff or Tõrvasoo Bluff
is located in Kihelkonna parish, on the northern tip of Tagamõisa peninsula. The bluff is 350 meters long, and around 2.5 meters high.

Üügu bluff
is the largest and most attractive of Muhu's bluffs. It is located about two kilometers from Nõmmküla and it is somewhat inland from the shore. The base of the bluff is about five to six meters from sea level. It is almost 300 meters long.
Unfortunately, much of the bank has been destroyed. Before World War I, dolomite was quarried for St. Petersburg metallurgy foundries. The places where dolomite was quarried can be seen clearly even today.

The Giant Rocks of Vahase Island
Vahase is a small island off the coast of Abruka island. On the eastern coast of Vahase there are two huge stone boulders that can be seen from far away. They have been under protection as nature objects since 1937. Tradition believes them to be connected with Big Tõll or boulders thrown from the heavens that broke in two when they landed. Nor does tradition deny the action of thunderbolts.

Valjala church is 25 kilometers from Kuressaare, in the town of Valjala. The church is Saaremaa's oldest, and dates to the first half of the 13th century. It is built in a mixture of Roman and Gothic styles. There are two massive baptismal fonts, one originally belonged to Haapsalu church, and one that belonged to Põide church that dates to the first half of the 14th century. The frescoes on the north wall of the choir originally date to the 13th century, they have been restored many times over. The altar and the altar painting are from the 19th century. The stained glass windows are the work of Dolores Hoffmann, and date to 1970 - 1980.

Valjala hill fort
About 700 meters southeast of the town of Valjala lies the last stronghold of the pre - Christian Saarlanders. Here ended 20 years of battles against the invading Crusader forces. The first act of the conquerors was to baptize the survivors. There were many uprisings in the following years, when the first act of defiance was to go to the streams to wash off the baptismal water. The stronghold is 120 meters by 110 meters, the walls are still five to eight meters high. In the center there is the well that was mentioned in the Livonian Chronicle as being the source of the baptismal water.

Vesitükimaa islets
is a nature preserve and are located in Salme parish. The area under protection is 112 hectares, of which 15 hectares are dry land and 97 hectares are sea. Vesitükimaa islets and the tip of Sõrve peninsula were placed under protection in 1971 because of its geological, botanical and orinthological importance. The largest islets in the group are Siialaid, Lombimaa, Vesitükimaa and Pitkasääremaa.

The Viidumäe nature preserve
is located on the highest and oldest land mass on Saaremaa. The area under protection is 7.5 kilometers long and 700 to 800 meters wide. Almost 600 different species of plants, many of them rare, are found in Viidumäe. The highest spot in Viidumäe is Suurmägi (Big Mountain), which is 51 meters above sea level. There is a good view from the tower built on top of Big Mountain. The administrative center of Viidumäe is at Audaku, where there is a small museum that introduces the visitor to the plants found at Viidumäe. Because of the many rare species growing at Viidumäe, travel outside marked roads is not permitted.

Viieristi seashore bluffs
The area is 16 kilometers south from the village of Salme, east of the Salme-Mäebe road. The terrace reaches to 20 to 25 meters above sea level. At places it slopes to 40 degrees.
The terraces stared developing 9000 to 8000BC. The area rose above sea level approximately 4 000 BC. The terraces are a protected nature area.

The Viirelaiu lighthouse
is located on the northeastern tip of Viirelaid. The lighthouse is eleven meters tall, a cylindrical metal tower, with a red top. This was the first metal lighthouse in Estonia. It was built in 1857 according to plans provided by the British engineer, Gordon. The first light cast by the lighthouse came from two Morrist - type petroleum lamps. In 1898 light was provided by acetalyne gas lamps. Today, the lighthouse casts its beam thanks to electricity.

The Vilsandi nature preserve
is located off the western coast of Saaremaa and consists of nearly a hundred islands and islets, along with the surrounding sea. The administrative center is located on the largest island, Vilsandi. Artur Toom, the long - time captain of the Vilsandi lighthouse, started providing protection for sea birds in 1906. In 1910, his bird sanctuary was placed under government protection, and the area became a nature preserve.
Today, the preserve provides protection not only for sea birds, but for all the landscape, plants and animals present in the islands. Approximately a hundred species of birds nest there. Before WW II, Vilsandi had 33 farms, with a population of around 200 people.
Today, the population numbers around 30 individuals. To date, several wooden windmills have been rebuilt, as well as the Tolli farmstead. The Tolli farm was a favorite vacation spot for several Estonian writers. Of interest to geologists, the islands of Vilsandi and Vaika consist of 400 million year old dolomite outcrops. These outcrops can be viewed on the northern coast, opposite of Vesiloo island, and close to the lighthouse. The lighthouse was first built in 1809.

Võhma Stone - Age settlement and stronghold.
In the summer of 1986, a stone - age settlement was discovered in the parish of Mustjala, in Võhma village. Originally, the settlement was located on the shore of a shallow sea. Due to the rising of the land, the sea today is several kilometers away. At a depth of 25 to 30 centimeters, trial shafts brought to light ancient hearths with burnt stones that were easily discernible from the surrounding yellow beach sand.

The Võlla boulder
is located on the eastern shore of Muhu island, four kilometers from Kuivastu, 200 meters west of the road that goes to Võlla village, and about five meters from the road. It is oblong in shape and is surrounded by many smaller rocks.
Big boulders are found thruout Saaremaa, and they were left here by the retreating ice.

 
 

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