The island state of Malta lies at the intersection of the sea routes of Europe, Africa, and Asia. Suppose Italy on the map resembles a woman’s boot. In that case, the geographical contours of Malta’s closest neighbor are represented as an elegant footprint from the boot of its many guests and conquerors who have ever set foot on this blessed land. Since ancient times, several tiny islands have served as a haven for travelers, merchants, and emigrants who roamed the sea. Even the famous pilgrim Odysseus enjoyed the hospitality of the local nymph Calypso for seven long years. By the way, in translation from the ancient language of the eternal wanderers of the Phoenicians, Malta is a refuge.
The warm waters of the Mediterranean Sea wash over the Maltese archipelago from all sides. Several rocky islands occupy the territory. Three of them are so densely populated that the country is now the third most populated globally. However, its most significant island is smaller than the area inside the Moscow ring road. The rest of the islands are uninhabited, so they attract travelers looking for unusual adventures. And even with all its guests put together, the state is still the smallest in the European Union.
The blue Maltese lagoons attract millions of tourists from all over the world every year. Even the homebody British traditionally flee from their rains and fogs to these sunny islands. The mild local climate is popular not only with beach lovers.
Over the past seven thousand years of chronicle, countless historical and cultural monuments have accumulated on the islands: from the legends about Atlantis in the archipelago region and the knightly symbols of the mysterious Order of Malta to the traces of the presence of Napoleon’s soldiers and British colonialists during the time of Queen Victoria. A fair number of English language schools attract students worldwide for the moderate cost and excellent quality of educational programs. The Mediterranean country has also been chosen by those who prefer outdoor activities. Here, by nature itself, favorable conditions have been created for avid yachters, scuba divers, and rock climbers.
A growing number of Russians want to learn English, combining serene relaxation with communication among native speakers. For more than a century and a half, the state was a colony of Great Britain up to the 70s of the twentieth century. The Republic of Malta is still part of the British Commonwealth. Therefore, the second state language, after Maltese, is the language of the great Lord Byron. In the minds of the British, with the light hand of the English poet, the definition of the country as a “garrison greenhouse” was fixed for a long time, hinting at the hot climate and belonging to a great empire. The poem “Farewell to Malta” was written by him while visiting the island in 1809.
Scuba divers come to Malta all year round. The minimum water temperature in winter is 14 degrees, and in summer, 24 degrees is conducive to scuba diving. There are several dozen training schools for beginner divers. The oldest Russian underwater club, Moscow State University, has been bringing its amateurs and professionals to the islands for many years, many of whom have diving experience in different parts of the world, known for their diving parties. The local rocky coast is famous for caves and beautiful marine architecture at depth. Underwater caves do not leave indifferent the most sophisticated divers.
Countries surround the Maltese archipelago on two continents. There are no land borders, only sea ones. In the north, at a distance of 90 km across the strait, the islands border on Italian Sicily. Residents of the southern and western coasts continue to meet sea caravans from Africa. The ancient trade routes of modern Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia intersect here. A little further to the east, neighbors live on the Greek islands. From the west, loaded caravels of merchants of the Basque country used to sail, now planes of Spanish airlines arrive.
The three small islands of Malta, Comino, and Gozo are home to the entire population of the parliamentary Republic of about four hundred people. On other islands, there are no cities or villages due to their tiny size. Malta’s largest is 246 square kilometers, which is three and a half times smaller than Moscow. The length of its territory from north to south is 27 km.
The Maltese capital, Valletta, bears the name of its most famous knight and protector. With his submission in 1566, the construction of a new city began. This happened immediately after the triumphant victory of the Knights of the Order of St. John over the troops of the Ottoman Empire.
Another major tourist city with the Arabic name Mdina is known for its complete absence of car traffic, which allows its countless baroque palaces and Moorish fortresses to be preserved from destruction.
Malta is devoid of a mountainous landscape, and the highest point is at an altitude of 253 meters above sea level. However, numerous low but steep rocky slopes attract novice climbers. A characteristic feature of the landscape is the absence of freshwater rivers. But the coastline is indented by rocky bays.
The Maltese language and its native speakers are close to the Greeks and Italians. Now the local population is rapidly growing at the expense of migrants from North African countries. British grandparents often settle on the islands after retirement. Recently, a lot of marriages have been registered between Maltese and Russians.
Tourists come to Malta to swim in the warm Mediterranean waters and sunbathe on the sunny beaches. The rich history of Europe, Africa, and the Middle East, with its gripping stories, is fully reflected in the Maltese islands’ rich culture and luxurious architecture, which attracts curious travelers from all over the world.
In local museums, artifacts are kept seven thousand years old. The structures, built long before the Egyptian pyramids, still hide the history of the mysterious ancient people who lived on the territory of Malta in prehistoric times. Catholic churches cherish the evidence of missionary work on the island of the Apostle Paul, the closest companion, and contemporary of Jesus Christ. Italian palazzo, surrounded by pieces of landscape art, delight the discerning artists. The noble medieval knights of the famous Order of Malta have left their traces everywhere, full of mystery and romance.
Climate and weather in Malta
The hot breath of close Africa is felt on the Maltese islands like in no other southern European country. And only the prevailing north-western wind in winter, bringing storms and bad weather reduces the average number of sunny days a year to three hundred. But even winter “cool” weather does not prevent tourists from sunbathing and swimming in numerous outdoor pools heated by the southern sun on New Year’s holidays. Malta is on the same latitude as Morocco and Tunisia. But the warm Mediterranean winds blowing on the islands from all sides soften the climate, impregnating the air with sea freshness.
The sweltering African heat in Malta does not happen, although once, many years ago, a maximum temperature of 43 degrees was recorded here. The average summer temperature of 28–35 degrees is balanced by the intense movement of air masses over the islands, which are very modest in size. In addition, there are no mountains or skyscrapers on them, which usually hold back the refreshing winds in other southern countries.
Six months summer
For half a year, from May to October, real summer lasts here. Russian tourists accustomed to closely monitoring temperature changes and rainfall to dress “according to the weather” can forget about their home habits while in Malta. Typical summer clothes – shorts, T-shirts and sunglasses are not changed even by those who brought a couple of suitcases of dresses and shirts. Those who forget to put on baseball caps and hats in the morning are in trouble in the form of sunstrokes and sun-scorched tops. There is no fresh morning or fantastic evening in the middle of summer. The night temperature of twenty degrees replaces the daytime temperature of thirty degrees. Only a fresh sea breeze on the coast pleases lovers of walks under the southern stars.
Travelers arriving on a night flight are greeted by high air humidity, common in Mediterranean countries. But locals rarely enjoy fast and warm rain. If a rare rain cloud appears in a bright blue sky, then not for long. Ten minutes of rain is replaced by heat again. Therefore, an umbrella is needed here only from the sun. By the way, one more protection from scorching rays – a thick layer of sunblock, should not be neglected even in September, when the temperature sometimes warms up above 30 degrees during the day.
Autumn: the swimming season continues
Autumn comes to Malta in mid-October. Although it is difficult for an ordinary inhabitant of central Russia to take the lush greenery of the surrounding nature and the air heated to 20-23 degrees for dull autumn weather. Our compatriot would instead call this time cool summer days, given the swimming season that lasts until mid-November and the absence of heavy rains. The sea cools down very slowly under the hot southern sun. The water temperature in November is practically the same as the air temperature. Twenty degrees does not stop Russian tourists from swimming in the sea.
When heading to Malta, do not forget flip-flops or other open shoes with elastic soles for walking along the rocky coast at any time of the year. Sandy beaches on the islands are scarce, and there are only 15 of them. They are primarily man-made. Elsewhere on the coast, people sunbathe pebbles, sun loungers, and artificial pontoons.
Winter: a lot of and a little rain
The so-called “winter rainy season” begins in December. Eh, heat-loving southern inhabitants! They do not know the natural torrential rains that lasted for several weeks under the gloomy skies of our northern side. Therefore, the Maltese call their rare rainfall in December and January a whole “season.” And the average daily temperature plus 15-18 degrees is called winter. But still, the bright sun does not allow the sea to cool down. The water temperature from December to February plus 14-16 will enable divers at this time of the year to explore with interest the purest blue waters of underwater caves, rich in marine fauna. In winter, the number of tourists in Malta is significantly reduced. Still nevertheless, decent discounts in this cool but warm season attract many people fleeing to warm countries from the Christmas cold of their northern homeland.
In March, the mild winter gives way to the long-awaited spring. Already from the end of February, the sun begins to noticeably bake. The already rare stormy winds at sea end altogether. Nature renews its colors, wildflowers, hibiscus, and bougainvillea begin to bloom. The temperature creeps up and quickly passes over the twenty-degree mark during the day. It’s time to get on your bike and drive around the islands, emerald with young foliage, under the cool spring sun. Four-fifths of the country is not occupied by cities but is covered in spring with green fields and blooming gardens.
Cities and regions
Since 1993 Malta has been divided into 68 municipalities, grouped into six counties and three regions. The districts are called: Outer Harbor (No. 3) and Inner Harbor (No. 1), District of the islands of Gozo and Comino (No. 6), Western (No. 4), North (No. 2), and South-East (No. 5) districts. The centers of the districts are the cities around which they were formed.
Regions of Malta
- Gozo (Gozo) – the territory of the islands of Gozo and Comino, also belonging to district number 6. The area of the region – 67 km², population (2005) – 31,053 people.
- Malta Majistral – the entire northern half of the island of Malta with districts No. 2-4, an area of 163 km², and a population (in 2005) of 227,117 people.
- Malta Stock (Malta Xlokk) – the southern half of the island of Malta with districts No. 1 and No. 5. The region has an area of 64 km² and a population (2005) of 140,882 people.
Valletta, La Valletta – the capital of the Republic of Malta, named after its founder – a knight, naval commander, Master of the Order of the Johannes Jean Parisot de la Valletta, who defended the city from the Turks.
Valletta is located on the northeastern coast of the island of Malta, on a peninsula between Marsamshett and Grand Harbor bays, at the foot of Mount Skiberras.
The first settlements in this area date back to the 9th century BC. NS. In the 7th century BC. NS. the area belonged to the Greeks from the VI century BC. NS. – to the Carthaginians, from 218 to the Romans, Byzantines, and 869 to the Arabs. In the 11th century, Malta was annexed to Sicily by the Normans, who at the beginning of the 16th century handed it over to the Order of the Johannes.
The history of the city of Valletta begins with the victory of the Knights of Malta Jean de La Valletta over the Turkish troops of Suleiman the Magnificent, after which on March 28, 1566, the Grand Master personally laid the foundation stone of the new city. The construction work, led by the Italian architect Francesco Laparelli da Cortona, was funded by donations from the entire Christian world and was carried out per all the canons of urban planning. Thus, unique systems were created to drain wastewater and remove garbage from the city, and the streets were planned so that the sea breeze cleared and cooled the air in Valletta. The subsequent development of the town with residential buildings was controlled by the particular Department of Urban Planning, which exists to this day. According to the rules, it was allowed to erect houses only along the streets, decorate their corners with statues, and arrange a well to collect rainwater in the courtyard. In front of the facades, it was forbidden to layout gardens. Upon completion of construction, Valletta was surrounded by a moat 1 km long, 20 m wide, and 18 m deep.
Since 1570, the city’s construction was continued by Laparelli’s student Gerolamo Cassar, who erected many significant palaces and churches in the Maltese capital. Commerce, crafts, and art developed in Valletta. In 1798, Valletta was occupied by Napoleon’s troops, who received a warm welcome from the Knights of Malta, which ultimately avoided the destruction of the city. In 1800, the island of Malta came under the rule of England, where it remained until 1974. During World War II, the town was severely damaged by German bombing but was rebuilt in peacetime. Since 1974, the city of Valletta has become the official capital of the Republic of Malta. Today the town is an open-air museum, full of interesting historical and architectural monuments and attracting many tourists every year.
Mdina is an ancient city in Malta, which was once its capital. The town was formed about 4000 years ago. At the turn of the II-I century c. BC NS. at this place, there was already a fortified Phoenician fortress. The heyday of Mdina fell on the Roman period when its territory was the present city and nearby Rabat. It is known that the Apostle Paul visited Mdina, who landed here after a shipwreck in 60 AD. NS.
The Arabs, having come to power, reduced the size of Mdina but added fortresses, more powerful fortifications, and a moat. The Knights of the Order of St. John occupied Mdina in 1530.
Mdina, dominated by Norman and Baroque buildings, is often referred to as the Citta Notabile.
It is also worth seeing Rabat – a picturesque suburb of Mdina, formed at the same time as it but separated by the Arabs from the city in 870 and remained outside the fortress wall.
Sliema is a famous resort in Malta, where the holiday season lasts all year round. Sliema is located on the north coast of the island, in the harbor of Marsamxett. Formed in the 19th century as a respectable metropolitan suburb, Sliema is perhaps the most fashionable Maltese city, tourism, and shopping center. There are also hotels of various “stars” and levels – from luxurious, like Crowne Plaza 5 * and Fortina Spa Resort 5 *, to tiny and democratic “starless” private boarding houses.
St. Julian’s is a small resort town located between fashionable Sliema and Patchville, following it to the west on the shores of Spinola Bay. St. Julian’s, which grew out of a small village formed around a local cathedral, is today one of the busiest resorts in Malta. St. Julian’s is best known for its excellent restaurants, of which there are a great many in the city.
Marsascala is a resort town on the shores of the bay of the same name in the east of Malta. Marsascala is a reasonably large settlement by Maltese standards, with a population of about 9,500 people. The name of the city comes from the words “Marsa” and “sqalli” and translates as “Sicilian port.”
The Three Cities: Cotton is a historic area near Marsascala, south of Valletta. The three cities are Vittoriosa, Cospicua, and Senglea, south of Valletta, where the Knights of the Order of St. John initially settled in 1530. It housed the first residence of the Grand Master in Malta. Later, the knights erected new fortification lines (Cotton lines, in honor of Grand Master Nicholas Cotton), protecting all three cities at once. Today Cotton is the only place in Europe covered by two rows of fortress walls. There are many interesting architectural monuments in Cotton.
Victoria is the unofficial capital of the island of Gozo, which, together with the island of Comino, forms a separate administrative-territorial unit of Malta. With Fontana and Kerch’s suburbs, Victoria is the most populous city on the island, located in its center. Originally called Rabat, like the suburb of Mdina, in 1887, the town was renamed Victoria in honor of the Queen of England. However, the old name can often be found among the locals and on-road signs on the roads.
A distinctive feature of Victoria is that there are absolutely no hotels marked with “stars” – only private rental housing. At the same time, there are always a lot of tourists who want to visit Victoria: they are attracted by the local fortress (Citadel), the cathedral, many churches, museums, and two theaters.
Xlendi (or Xlendi) is one of the two main resorts in Gozo, located in a picturesque natural bay. Until the late 1980s, Xlendi was a small fishing village, but with the development of the tourism industry, it turned into a cozy resort town.
Where to go in Malta
Upper Barrakka Gardens
The Upper Barrakka Gardens are located in Valletta on the Peter and Paul Bastion of the fortress near the Castilian courtyard – the residence of the Prime Minister of Malta.
Since 1663 they have been owned by the order of Saint George. In Malta, they are often called the “Gardens of the Italians.” Since 1824 they have been open to all comers.
During the Second World War, the Upper Barrakka Gardens were severely damaged due to air raids. During the restoration work, it was possible to return them to their former grandeur and splendor.
Since this is the highest point in the city, it offers a picturesque view of the harbor, surroundings, the quieter and less crowded Lower Barrakka Gardens, and three towns – Birgu, Isla, Bormla with ancient fortifications. At the bottom of the gardens is a restaurant where weddings and other lavish celebrations are celebrated.
Every day at noon, a firing ceremony from an old cannon takes place on the Old Battery. In total, there are 11 English cannons.
In the countless nooks and crannies of the gardens, you can find the sculpture “Gavroshi,” monuments to Churchill and Captain Ball, and other statues and busts. There are horse-drawn carriages at the entrance, on which you can ride around the capital.
The Azure Window is a natural formation, a popular attraction on the island of Gozo, inscribed in 1998 by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site as part of the Qawra / Dwejra Natural Monument. The rock is located in the municipality of San Lorenz, near the city of Victoria.
The rocky limestone formation, 28 m high, which forms a flat-topped stone arch, standing in the sea, is considered one of the symbols of Malta. Tourists come here for photography, diving, and swimming, and some to take a cliff jump prohibited by the authorities.
The Blue Grotto is a complex of sea caves near the village of Qrendi in the south of Malta. The sun’s rays hitting the water every day create a rare effect, giving the water a bright blue color, shimmering in various shades. The cave has a depth of 45 m.
In Malta, the Blue Grotto became a popular tourist destination in the middle of the last century, after the British military and their families chose it. The attraction is often found in films. In particular, it is shown in the movie “Troy.”
By order of the authorities, no more than 25 boats with tourists can visit the cave daily, due to the problematic relief of the rocks and the strong sea waves in this place. Tourists come to the shelter to admire the fantastic color of the water and the shape of the rock formations, go diving and rock climbing.
Grand Master’s Palace
The Grand Master’s Palace was built in 1574 on Palace Square. Today it houses the official residence of the country’s president and parliament.
Initially, the building was wooden, but soon a stone palace made of limestone, 97 m long and 83 m wide, was erected in its place, making it the largest building in the city.
The palace was designed by the Maltese architect Gerolamo Cassar and completed by the Italian Francesco Laparelli da Cortona.
The walls are painted with frescoes and decorated with friezes depicting episodes of the history of the Order of St. John. In the palace halls, there are portraits of the Grand Masters and European monarchs, knightly coats of arms, tapestries. In the basement of the palace, there is the Armory Room, the exposition of which contains more than 6,000 exhibits: armor and weapons of knights.
Cathedral of Saint John
Cathedral of St. John – the main temple of the Order of St. John, built-in 1573-1578. Made in the Romanesque-Gothic style with baroque elements, the cathedral has eight chapels dedicated to the eight branches of the Order.
Having a simple facade, the cathedral amazes with the richness of the interior – the high vaults are painted with frescoes by the Italian artist Mattia Preti, and the floor is lined with multi-colored marble slabs, each of which is the tombstone of 380 Maltese knights and all the Grand Masters (except the last one).
The church also contains two valuable works by Caravaggio, who was at one time the official artist of the Order – “The Beheading of John the Baptist” and “Saint Jerome Writing.” The temple has a cemetery where the remains of another 256 knights are buried.
Fort St. Elmo
Fort St. Elmo is an ancient fortress built in the XIV century to protect the approaches to Valletta from the sea – from the harbor of Marsamxett and the Grand Harbor. The city of Valletta grew directly around the fort.
During the siege of Malta by the Turks in 1565, the fort was severely damaged: it was captured and practically destroyed, but soon recaptured by the Maltese knights, restored and fortified.
Today, Fort St. Elmo houses the Police Academy and the National War Museum, among the exhibits of natural, historical objects – an airplane, torpedo boats, guns, small arms, uniforms, orders. The fort periodically hosts costume shows that reconstruct the era of chivalry, such as the In Guardia parade and the Alarmе show.
Vacations Forever: 5 Best Resort Towns You Should Move to ASAP
Do you want to be on vacation all year long? Fewer people are using their part-time vacation homes as primary residences nowadays, but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t be a great choice for you.
Let’s go through the top resort towns you should move to if you want to be permanently on vacation.
1. Jackson Hole, United States
If you’re a big fan of skiing, you’re sure to enjoy Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Jackson Hole has very low crime rates, so it’s a safe place to live if you have a family.
It’s also home to some excellent schools, so you don’t need to be worried about your children’s education. However, Jackson Hole does have high costs of living, particularly for a city in a less populated state.
2. Estepona, Spain
Do you enjoy the south of Spain? Consider moving to Estepona. This city, which is located on the Costa del Sol, is populated along the coast. There are tons of amazing water sports you can try out when you visit Estepona.
Plus, you can check out interesting museums when you live in Estepona, like the Antonio Ordóñez Museum of Bullfighting, the Ethnographic Museum, and the Paleontology Museum. And, Estepona is home to delicious restaurants, so you’ll never get tired of eating the local cuisine. Those who are looking for a place to live in Estepona should check out choosemarbella.com.
3. Cartagena, Colombia
If you’re looking for a great beach city, you’ll certainly want to consider Cartagena. There are plenty of resorts you can check out, or you can hit the beaches yourself.
Cartagena is also one of the cheaper cost of living options when it comes to beach cities. However, if you’re a vegetarian or have dietary restrictions, Colombia can be a difficult country to navigate.
4. Palm Springs, United States
Palm Springs is an interesting resort city. It’s extremely popular with seniors and members of the LGBTQ community (along with, of course, people who fall under both categories).
Palm Springs is the perfect place to live for people who love golfing or playing tennis. But be forewarned, you’ll need a car to get around Palm Springs since things are spread out and public transportation can be limited.
5. Todos Santos, Mexico
While Cabo San Lucas is one of the most popular resort city choices out there, it’s probably not a place you want to live long term. So, why not try out one of the neighboring towns? Todos Santos is one great option.
Todos Santos is home to a great community of artists, so people who love creativity won’t want to miss out. Plus, Todos Santos is one of the safest resort towns out there. And, the city is becoming more and more popular, so you’ll be trendy by moving to Todos Santos.
Move to These Resort Towns Today
What are you waiting for? Any of these resort towns are a great option for your next stage in life.
Are you looking for more lifestyle advice? Make su
Estonia Travel Guide: Best Places to Visit And Things To Do
Estonia is one of the brightest, most versatile, and diverse countries in northern Europe. Situated on the eastern coast of the Baltic Sea and washed by the waters of the Gulfs of Riga and Finland, Estonia offers tourists an incredible selection of natural landscapes, ancient monuments, and architectural wonders. Millennia of history, cultural traditions, lively and fascinating, historic cities, castles, and fortresses of the Crusader era, museums, and elegant museums from the time of the Empire. Two thousand five hundred islands, virgin forests and National parks, lakes, swamps, meteorite craters, and hundreds of kilometers of beaches – this is all Estonia!
With the latest technological advances, Estonia offers a unique cocktail of experiences where all the ingredients are perfectly matched. Excursions, entertainment, historical routes, shopping, gastronomic wonders, spa hotels, and the best beaches of the Baltic Sea – whatever plan you go on vacation, Estonia will undoubtedly bring them to life.
Despite its modest size, Estonia can surprise even the experienced traveler. It is easily accessible from any corner of Europe – by air, land, and water. Tallinn, the delightful and ancient capital of Estonia, and the main cities of Sweden and Finland are only hours apart. Guests from Warsaw will be delivered by a comfortable bus, and residents of St. Petersburg should not be late for the evening train. Breakfast can be ordered in the heart of Tallinn.
Magical Tallinn, an actual teleport city, a time machine in action.
The entire old town is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List as an example of conservation in northern Europe.
From a bird’s eye view, its shape repeats the heart – this is probably why it regularly steals hearts from impressionable tourists!
It is enough to climb one of the observation platforms to leave your own there, and there are many of them in the city.
And then walk the whimsically twisted streets, admiring the ancient fortress walls, towers, and underground passages – the Tallinn fortress is more than 700 years old, and it is also considered the standard of medieval architecture.
In addition to the fortress, the historic part of Tallinn will offer ancient temples, medieval mansions, museums, and, of course, restaurants – to celebrate your acquaintance with the city tastefully, and you have a choice of 1001 restaurants. Many of them have earned the laurels of the best in northern Europe.
The second most important city in the country is Tartu. It is considered the intellectual capital of Estonia, and it is not for nothing that its foundation is attributed to Prince Yaroslav the Wise. The oldest university, the most picturesque ruins of the cathedral, the most beautiful Botanical Garden, and the most “advanced” museums are located here. Another reason to visit Tartu is fairs, festivals, and other entertainment events. Thanks to the university and the student body, it is also the funniest city in Estonia.
In Narva, Rakvere, and Põltsamaa, ancient fortresses and majestic castles fans should take a ride.
Life here is quiet and unhurried, and only occasionally, the city’s peace is disturbed by music festivals and historical reconstructions.
The “summer” capital of Estonia, stylish and bright, will offer its guests spa hotels, health resorts on the shores of the Gulf of Finland, a pretty port with yachts, and the Old Town of the Hanseatic League.
But the main thing for tourists who come here is eight kilometers of sandy beach, the best in the country.
Those who love everything at once should go to Haapsalu. One of the most famous spa resorts, renowned for its traditions and admirers, Haapsalu also has a worthy historical dimension.
A medieval castle and an old cathedral, a vibrant Old Town, the Seaside Promenade – culture is perfectly combined with vacation motives.
And, of course, you cannot leave Estonia without seeing its islands. Choose the largest and most beautiful island of Saaremaa and its capital, old Kuressaare. The local Bishop’s Castle is considered the most harmonious in the country, and the climate is one of the best on the coast.
In short, why would you not come to Estonia – to have fun, improve your health, or intellectually enrich yourself, you will have a great vacation. Estonia will take care of this!
Estonian history is a journey of thousands of years. This northern country has managed to preserve the traditions and customs of its ancestors, Viking sagas, and tales of overseas kings while remaining a modern European state.
Estonia: the beginning of the beginnings
Historical evidence of life on these lands can be found already in the 9th millennium BC. The appearance of the first people on the territory of modern Estonia is associated with the end of the last known ice age. According to archaeologists, the oldest site of primitive people appeared on the banks of the Pärnu River, not far from Sindi, approximately in 9500 BC. There are several such settlements. They all belong to the Kund culture.
This ancient cultural stratum existed until the 5th millennium BC and is named after the Estonian city of Kunda. Its influence spread to the eastern Baltic states, Poland, and southern Finland. The settlements of hunters and anglers used stone tools of labor and defense, which are found in many archaeologists, right up to the Mesolithic period.
Over the millennia, cultural layers have changed, and along with them – the traditions of the peoples inhabiting these lands. Already in the third millennium BC, the inhabitants of the settlements began to raise livestock, and by the first millennium, this trade became the main activity of the settlers.
The path to the emergence of statehood
Three thousand years ago, the inhabitants of the territories that make up modern Estonia chose a sedentary lifestyle. As a rule, the new settlers preferred the coastal regions, and here the first settlements were built, fortified, and defended. Their traces can be found to this day on the island of Saaremaa, and these are Ridala and Asva, as well as the settlement of Iru near Tallinn.
At the same time, sea and land contacts with neighbors begin to develop. Archaeologists designate this period as the culture of stone burials. It is associated with the resettlement of the ancestors of the Germans from Scandinavia.
Estonia, at the beginning of our era, is the land of agriculture and cattle breeding. Already in the early Middle Ages, customs and traditional ways of rural life appeared, which Estonians managed to preserve to this day. Many historic villages still exist today.
The early Middle Ages are a crucial period in the formation of Estonia. New, fortified settlements are being built, a system of administrative registration of territories has been formed, and a small farm is taken as a unit of measurement – a typical family farm. There are still many of them in Estonia. The entire territory of the state is divided into 8 regions and counties, these are Virumaa, Läanemaa, Rävala, Saaremaa, Sakala, Ugandi, Harju County, Järvamaa.
By this period, an early feudal model of society was formed, where elders ruled the lands. The major Estonian epic, which tells the story of the medieval giant Kalevipoeg, was written just in the spirit of that time.
In the same historical period, around 1030, the campaign of Prince Yaroslav the Wise began in the northern lands. He founded the city of Yuryev, present-day Tartu.
A little later, local tribes recaptured Tartu. In the following centuries, the ancient Estonians, on the one hand, and the inhabitants of Pskov with Novgorod, on the other, regularly “exchanged pleasantries.”
Such raids on neighbors were considered in the Order of things. One of them even went down in history. It is known that the Estonians conflicted with the Scandinavian Vikings. The inhabitants of the largest Estonian island – Saaremaa, mainly distinguished themselves in this confrontation.
Possessing a solid fleet at that time, the Oeselians, that is, the islanders kidnapped the Norwegian Queen Astrid and her son, Prince Olaf.
Subsequently, it was canonized, and one of the most outstanding examples of medieval architecture in Estonia, St. Olaf’s Church, was named in its part.
The Estonian Vikings are also credited with the destruction of the Swedish capital of Sigtuna at the beginning of the 12th century. Visiting the island of Saaremaa, you can see with your own eyes the treasures of the Vikings, which were found here in many.
The Early Middle Ages: From the Crusaders to the Reformation
The beginning of the Middle Ages in Estonia is associated with the spread of Christianity. The faith of Christ came to these lands later than to central Europe, and if at the beginning these were missionary movements, then the planting of a new religion took place with fire and sword. Various organizations – the Teutonic Order, the Pope, German archbishops, Denmark, and the Kingdom of Sweden – advocated for Estonia’s conversion to Catholicism. Pagan ancestor cults have always been extreme in these parts, so the Northern Crusade decided to take drastic measures. In history, he remained under the name of Livonian.
The crusaders reached the Estonian lands by 1208. And in 1217, the battle of Viljandi took place, where the Estonians were defeated. Two years later, the territories of northern Estonia were conquered by the Danes, the south of the state began to belong to the German Order of the Swordsmen.
As a result of the conquests, these lands fell under the control of the powerful Livonian Order, which had occupied a substantial part of the modern Baltic.
At the same time, the Danish king granted Tallinn, which was considered a pearl among cities, the privileges of the Lübeck city law.
According to these laws, the capital of Estonia, like other cities of the Hanseatic League, was governed until the beginning of the twentieth century.
The conquered lands were transformed into bishoprics. Some of them were subordinate to the supreme authority in Riga. Denmark ruled others.
Of course, this did not consider the interests of the local population, and conflicts were inevitable.
The most famous uprising was St. George’s Night, which marked the Peasant War of Liberation beginning.
The riots, which the Danish authorities could not cope with, forced them to sell the land to the Teutonic Order. The era of German rule in Estonia began.
German landlords wielded tremendous power here for the next 700 years. The territories of modern Estonia and Latvia are called Livonia – a medieval community of interconnected small principalities that were part of the German church territories of the Holy Roman Empire. The feudal system formed in medieval Estonia put German knights and Catholic bishops at the pinnacle of power.
The rights and freedoms of residents were constantly infringed upon, right up to the introduction of serfdom. Taxes and taxes reached unprecedented levels, and all administrative and judicial power belonged to the German magistrates. At the same time, the Estonians themselves, who constituted the majority of the population, remained predominantly peasants and did not have personal freedom.
In large cities, merchant guilds and artisan communities were formed, and Rewal – modern Tallinn, Dorpat, now the city of Tartu, Pernau, familiar to us as Pärnu, and Viljandi were part of the powerful Hanseatic League. This commercial and defensive amalgamation of merchant guilds and merchant cities quickly became a monopoly in northern Europe.
Traces of those times are still easy to find on the streets of Tallinn.
Walking through the Old Town, pay attention to the medieval warehouses, equipped with hooks sticking out above the attic for lifting loads.
Perhaps due to the eternal conflict of interests of the trading cities with their merchants and the Catholic clergy represented by the German bishops, the Reformation movement in Estonia received support.
The middle of the 16th century was accompanied by riots, where ordinary people revolted against the Catholic clergy.
One of the manifestos of the Reformation, which the locals supported, was the holding of divine services and the publication of books in Estonian.
Middle-Ages: from the Livonian War to the Russian Empire
The sixteenth-century turned out to be a turning point – the Livonian Order, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, the Russian tsar, Sweden, and the Danish kingdom started a major conflict over the division of territories. It remains in history as the Livonian War. Estonia became one of those lands for which they fought. Both the population and the economic component of the cities suffered greatly during the hostilities. As a result, the state was divided between Sweden, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, and Denmark.
Later, by the middle of the 17th century, all the territories of modern Estonia were ceded to the Kingdom of Sweden. The foundation of the University of Tartu, one of the oldest in Europe, dates back to this time. A significant event took place in 1632, at the direction of the Swedish king Gustav II Adolf.
Until the end of the 17th century, the economic stability of Estonia was ensured by trade. Large cities – Narva, Tallinn, Tartu, stood at the crossroads of trade routes, through which goods went to Europe or Russia and back. The agricultural sector also functioned well, and crafts were developing.
The Great Northern War changed the balance of power in the region. It ended in 1721 with the surrender of Sweden, and the Estonian lands came under the control of the Russian Empire.
Estonia as part of Russia
Most of the Baltic territories in the middle of the 18th century were ceded to Russia. Northern Estonia turned into Revel province, and southern lands, together with Latvia, formed Livonia. Emperor Peter the Great restored the rights of the German nobility, and they constituted a solid layer in the highest authorities. In religion, complete freedom was also allowed for both the Lutheran faith and the Russian Orthodox Church.
In the spheres of culture and education, progress was observed, books, newspapers, and magazines were published in Estonian, educational societies were actively working, defending the rights of the people, and literacy of the population was almost universal.
The population also recovered, undermined by wars and epidemics.
An important historical milestone was the abolition of serfdom by Tsar Alexander the First. It happened in 1816.
In the middle of the 19th century, Estonia and the rest of the empire entered the era of capitalism.
The industry developed by leaps and bounds, mechanical engineering, textile, and agricultural industries formed the basis of the economy.
Success in the economic field and the development of educational programs contributed to the birth of the Estonian national movement.
Towards a free Estonia
Activists of the national movement, formed at the end of the 19th century, demanded equal rights for Germans and indigenous people, Estonians, whose interests were infringed upon. These societies united writers, educators, journalists, representatives of the intellectual elite. They fought not only for legal rights but also for restoring traditions such as the Song Festival, ethnographic festivals, the first Estonian theater. However, despite these bold attempts, the Russians and Germans remained society’s economic and political elite.
In the wake of patriotic movements and extreme provocations, strikes and unrest broke out throughout Estonia. The tsarist government responded with harsh repression, but the uprisings continued in 1916, leading to the 1917 revolution. The interim government was entrusted with managing the former Estland province.
Riots continued this time between Estonian nationalists and Bolsheviks. However, now the First World War intervened in the plans of the future Soviet government. Estonia remained neutral in this conflict, demanding independence.
The wish came true on February 24, 1918 – finally, Estonia became a free state.
The first Estonian republic existed until 1940. The Second World War, its sad consequences, and the subsequent incorporation into the USSR lasted almost fifty years.
Estonia regained independence in 1991 with a rally known as the Singing Revolution.
Over the past thirty years, the state has been actively developing.
Tallinn’s old town was renovated for the 100th anniversary of independence.
Estonia is a member of the UN, the European Union, and NATO, a technically advanced and progressive country.
The system of electronic elections exists and is actively used here, and Skype was invented.
In 2002, Tallinn hosted the Eurovision Song Contest, and in 2018, the anniversary year for Estonian independence, many museums, palaces, and cultural sites were renovated.
The Tallinn Christmas market was recognized as the most beautiful in Europe by the European Best Destinations Association in the same year.
And regardless of political trends, time of year, and the weather outside the window, this beautiful, diverse, and close country is always waiting for you to visit!
Climate and weather in Estonia
Weather in cities
Several factors influence the Estonian climate. The proximity of the Baltic Sea, the Gulf Stream, Atlantic cyclones, temperate continental regions, fifteen hundred islands – this combination can be safely called unique.
The warmest month of the year is July, and the coldest is February.
However, the transitions between seasons are smooth and comfortable, and the country’s inhabitants are unfamiliar with both severe touches of frost and sweltering heat.
Estonia, located both on the mainland and on the islands, is surrounded by water on three sides. A large part of it is swamped, and the sea and the unusual natural relief create their microclimate. The weather in Estonia is most often described as humid and calm, relatively mild.
Winter in Estonia starts as expected – in December. As a rule, snowfalls at this time, which greatly adorn the landscapes, and there is a light frost conducive to walking.
It is one of the most popular tourist seasons of the year and is the time to celebrate Christmas and New Year.
January and February are colder and frosty, and there is a lot of snow. However, the air temperature rarely drops below – 6 … 8 ° C.
The weather is conducive to winter fun – ski runs, skating rinks in parks, sledding, fishing are open.
Estonians are a very athletic nation, and most of the time, joining their winter walks is entirely free.
Spring comes to Estonia not earlier than the second half of March. At this time of the year, frosts are still possible, mainly at night, but the sun is peeping more often.
April is also a fantastic month; May is considered more successful for a visit to the country. Spring can be seen in all its glory – in blooming parks, meadows outside the city, and bright city flower beds. Walking around Old Tallinn, do not deny yourself the pleasure of sitting at a table in an outdoor cafe – in May, such gatherings in the air are already quite comfortable.
If the purpose of your visit is to see summer Estonia, plan your trip in July. June is more like a warm spring than our usual summer. However, the month is exceptionally sunny and not too grainy.
The best time to visit Estonia is in June and July.
July is considered the warmest, sunniest, and driest month of the year. The air temperature warms up to + 22 … 24 ° C. + 30 ° C in Estonia is an abnormal heat. Such temperature cataclysms do not happen often.
Despite quite hot daily temperatures for Estonia, summer nights remain cool.
This feature of the local climate dictates to tourists their own rules for collecting luggage – a light jacket or sweater is required even in the middle of summer.
July and August are perfect for exploring Estonian cities and relaxing on their beaches.
The water temperature off the coast of Tallinn is usually around + 20 ° C, in rare cases warming up a few degrees higher.
Another good season to visit Estonia is autumn.
September usually welcomes guests of the country with dry, warm, and sunny weather.
This is an excellent time for both city walks and outdoor recreation. The first frosts and rains come with the onset of October, and although the average temperature is around + 10 ° C during the day, the mood is spoiled by prolonged precipitation.
It is freezing and wet in November. This is the time of real northern autumn, with fogs and falling snow. A warm hat and mittens are a must, or you can keep warm at the numerous spas, as well as at Christmas markets, which also start in November.
Estonian cities and regions
The territory of Estonia, divided in the 13th century by the knights of the Livonian Order into eight historical regions – Maakondas in Estonian, today, with the recognition of independence, has been divided into 15 counties. Almost all of them, to a greater or lesser extent, are of some interest to travelers.
The country’s history in stone can be studied in the regions of Harju, Lääne-Viru County, Ida-Virumaa. Here you will find the ruins of ancient castles, noble estates from the times of the empire, palaces, and all this against the backdrop of dunes and seemingly pristine coniferous forests. The main cities of the north of the country are the capital Tallinn, the seaside Paldiski, Maardu with its lake.
In addition to the beauties of ancient Tallinn, with its great fortress and streets of the Old Town, Harju County attracts with its excellent preservation of medieval buildings.
Temples and fortresses, historical landowners’ estates – manors, the Vasalemma palace, and park complex.
The views are also in order here – 17 landscape zones protecting unique natural monuments, including karst fields, heaths, springs, swamps, picturesque coastal cliffs.
County Ida-Viru County is famous for its ancient megaliths in Lahemaa National Park, on the coast of the Gulf of Finland.
Noble estates, the “village of captains” Käsmu, where the first ship of Estonian production was launched, the family estate of Admiral von Krusenstern, as well as a tour of the Neeruti National Park – you will not have time to get bored. Don’t miss Rakvere Castle – built-in 1226 by the Danes, it is perfectly preserved for its advanced age.
Ida-Viru County will appeal to nature explorers. Sea ledges – Klint, the highest waterfall in the country, the Oru landscape reserve, the most interesting in Estonia, the Alutaguse adventure park, the beaches of Lake Peipsi, and the opportunity to kayak on the Kurtna lakes.
The western regions of Estonia – Saaremaa, Hiiumaa, Pärnumaa, and Läänemaa, are an opportunity to have a fantastic seaside holiday, combining vacation with viewing architectural masterpieces. In this region, sea resorts, spa centers, mud baths, and sanatoriums are concentrated.
Saaremaa county is located on the largest island in Estonia and encompasses the islets nearby. They are loved by fans of sea sports – surfing and kiting, thanks to their windy weather. And in the holiday season, you can go swimming with seals, organized by the employees of Vilsandi National Park. Do not miss the Kaali meteorite crater, which is filled with water of an unusual jade hue. The lake is round in shape, 100 meters in diameter, and you can swim in it in summer.
The capital of the county is Kuressaare. There is a sea harbor, an airport, and the Episcopal Castle, one of the most beautiful in Eastern Europe.
The Old Town has also survived in Kuressaare, with colorful historical buildings.
Surfers and beachgoers also love hiiumaa.
The second-largest island in Estonia offers tourists a picturesque coastline with a total length of 310 km, wind, and waves for fans of sea activities, as well as hiking trails.
You can walk, for example, to the Kõpu lighthouse – the most ancient navigational landmark in the Baltics.
The largest county in Estonia is Pärnumaa. Its capital, the seaside port city of Pärnu, is considered the main Baltic resort in Estonia. Perfect sandy beaches with white dunes surrounded by pine forests are found here.
Neighboring Läänemaa attracts visitors thanks to the county capital, the old town of Haapsalu. Famous for the traditions of mud therapy – the first clinic in the country was opened here, he has not lost his “qualifications” even now. Do not miss the old Kurhaus on the seaside promenade – a beautiful wooden building from the 19th century with a concert hall. And in the center of the city, you will find a 13th-century bishop’s castle, whose ruins are majestic.
The center of the country is beautiful during the warm season. Gardens are blooming, historic estates are opening their doors, and landscaped parks are inviting guests. Raplamaa, Viljandi County, and Järvamaa counties offer many exciting walks.
For example, in Raplamaa, it is suggested to visit the “Golden Ring of Raplamaa Manors.” The program includes noble estates, old churches, historical manors, which are now open as crafts centers. Hikers should pay attention to the limestone plateau in Maryamaa parish.
Viljandi County is visited for the sake of the central city – Viljandi, with a very ancient and venerable history. The first settlements here date back to the 5th century BC, the Viking Age. Written references to the city date back to 1154, and in the 12th century, the first permanent settlement appeared on the site of Viljandi. At the beginning of the XIII century, these lands were conquered by order of the Swordsmen, and already in 1224, a stone fortress was erected here, which was considered the largest in the Baltic. The defense and the city were called Fellin. Under this name, they were part of the Hanseatic League.
In Järva will appeal to fans of nature and lovers of history. Here you can visit the historic Albu estate and then walk in the Kõrvemaa landscape reserve. Bird watchers will especially appreciate this park; you can watch rare black storks and golden eagles here.
The legendary shores of Lake Peipsi are the birthplace of the Tartumaa and Jõgevamaa regions. The historical battles of the Russian-Swedish and the Livonian War did not pass unnoticed; numerous castles and fortresses in the east of the country have survived to this day in the form of picturesque ruins.
County Tartu County – the citadel of knowledge and scientific progress. Tartu, the region’s central city and the second most populous in the country, boasts a rich history. One of the oldest in Eastern Europe, Tartu was founded by Yaroslav the Wise in 1030 as the city of Yuryev. In addition to the university, one of the oldest in Europe, Tartu is famous for theaters, museums, architectural monuments, pretty streets of the Old Town.
The vicinity of Lake Peipsi, located nearby, will be an excellent competitor to seascapes.
You can come here for a whole vacation and not have time to see all the exciting places in the area – ancient manors, the famous “Onion Route” – a historical route through museums and castles, the beautiful Alatskivi Palace.
The amazing glacial landscapes of Jõgevamaa county take us back to the time of the epic about the exploits of Kalevipoeg, the giant warrior.
Mysterious protected forests, lakes, giant boulders, as if forgotten here by a strong man – everything breathes with legends.
One of the most exciting places in the county is the town of Põltsamaa. Once there was the capital of the Livonian Kingdom, with its castle, which welcomes guests in the city center today. By the way, Põltsamaa is also considered the wine capital of Estonia – fruit and berry and fruit wines are produced here, arranging colorful festivals and fairs in summer.
In winter, the southern regions of Valga County, Võrumaa, and Põlvamaa are especially popular with Estonian residents and visitors. The best ski resorts are located here, and the hilly terrain is favorable for snowmobiling and sledding. Valga County is also popular with professionals – it hosts the qualifying rounds of the European Championships and the World Cup in cross-country skiing. In summer, the freestyle jumps are used as an observation deck.
Põlvamaa will appeal to fans of ethno-tourism. Here are the settlements and villages that have preserved the traditional way of life, all against the backdrop of marvelous nature. National parks offer hiking trails of any degree of difficulty, and you can walk along swamps, cliffs, and canyons.
An additional highlight is meteorite craters, and there are four of them in the area. Moreover, the diameter of the deepest is about 80 meters.
Võrumaa county will appeal to wildlife researchers. The main pride of the region is the Hinni Canyon, a mysterious valley that gives rise to the Rõuge Trail. Having passed it to the end, you will see the pasture of the indigenous abodes of these places – the reindeer.
The largest lake in Estonia and the country’s highest point, Suur Munamägi Hill, 318 meters high, is also waiting for you on the route.
Where to go in Estonia
The Tallinn Zoo was founded in 1939.
Today the collection numbers over 350 animal species living on 89 hectares. The zoo’s expositions include Alpine, Central Asian, South American, Arctic, and many other zones.
The zoo is proud of the collection “Tropical House,” rare for northern latitudes: the inhabitants of the tropical jungle were settled here.
Town Hall Square
Each ancient European city has its central square with a town hall founded in medieval times. Such areas were usually used as a gathering place during some important events and as a trading platform. Tallinn is also no exception and has its center – Town Hall Square.
Monument to the battleship “Rusalka.”
A bronze angel on the seashore holds a cross in his hand held high above his head. He points to the place of death of the battleship “Rusalka.” The statue, created by the sculptor A. Adamson, was installed in Kadriorg Park in 1902 on the 7th anniversary of the shipwreck.
Fat Margarita Tower
A medieval maritime city is, first of all, towers and fortress walls, in a word, structures intended to defend the city from invading invaders. Today the Great Sea Gate and the Fat Margarita have turned into monuments reminding native Tallinn residents and guests of the town about the terrible times. Fat Margarita was “born” in the 16th century: a giant armory tower (155 loopholes) with a diameter of 25 meters and a height of 20 meters was erected next to the Sea Gate.
Kadriorg Palace and Park
Kadriorg is considered a prestigious area of Tallinn. The tranquil area is famous for its rich history and the main attractions – the Kadriorg Palace and park. Now on its territory is the residence of the Estonian president and several embassies of other states. The preserved wooden houses are also of interest; Estonia’s prominent figures of literature and art lived in them in the 1920s – 1930s.
Aquapark in Tallinn
Aquapark in Tallinn is a water spa at the Kalev Spa hotel located in the center of the “old town” next to Kanuti Park. Town Hall Square is just a 7-minute walk from the water park. In addition, within walking distance of many attractions is the center of Tallinn – Dominican Monastery, Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, Dome Cathedral, St. Peter and Paul Church, St. Nicholas Church, Church of the Holy Spirit, Church of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker, Toompea Castle, Kiek-de- Kyok and other objects.
Czech Travel Guide: Best Places to Visit And Things To Do
The Czech Republic, or the Czech Republic, is a central European state bordering Poland in the north, Germany in the west, Austria in the south, and Slovakia in the east. The capital of the Czech Republic is the city of Prague, which is one big attraction in the open air. The country covers an area of 78 866 km², has 10 610 947 people (2016). The largest cities are Prague, Brno, Pilsen, Ostrava.
According to legend, the ancestors of today’s Czechs, led by their leader Czech, settled on the territory of the modern Czech Republic, which has been inhabited since the Stone Age. The first chronicle mentions settlements on the Czech land date back to the end of the 9th century when princes from the Přemyslid clan united these lands. In the Middle Ages, the Czech kingdom had significant influence. Still, the religious conflicts that arose (the Hussite wars in the 15th century and the Thirty Years’ War in the 17th century) significantly weakened it. Soon the kingdom fell under the rule of the Habsburgs and became part of Austria-Hungary.
After the end of the First World War and the fall of Austria-Hungary in 1918, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Subcarpathian Rus united into the independent republic of Czechoslovakia. Germany occupied the country in 1939. At the end of World War II, the Czech Republic found itself in the Soviet camp, which predetermined its history until 1989. On January 1, 1993, Slovakia separated from the Czech Republic, and both countries gained independence. Today’s Czech Republic has been a NATO member since 1999, and it has been a member of the European Union since 2004.
The Czech Republic is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe. Regardless of the season, the country annually is visited by about 50 million people—the choice of tourist routes in the Czech. Republic is so extensive that it is worthwhile to decide in advance which direction of tourism interests you at the moment and which should be left for subsequent visits. The most attractive are historical routes since the country has many objects that will be of interest to fans of antiquity: castles, fortresses, castles. Some cities in the Czech Republic are included in the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage List.
Climate and weather in the Czech Republic
The climate of the Czech Republic is moderate continental with features of the sea. Summer in the region is warm, with daytime temperatures of + 23 … + 25 ° С, with a lot of precipitation. Winter is cloudy, cool, in the day around 0 … + 3 ° С, and at night -5. -2 ° С, snow often falls. In winter, ski resorts start operating in the mountains.
The minimum precipitation occurs in spring and autumn, and this time is considered the most comfortable for excursions and travel around the country.
The weather in the Czech Republic rarely surprises: in summer, as a rule, it is not hot, and in winter, it is moderately calm, so tourists visit the country all year round.
- Pilsen Region – This region attracts tourists with its old Baroque buildings, nature reserves, folklore, and delicious food. Local beer is considered one of the most delicious varieties in the whole Czech Republic and beyond.
- The South Bohemian Region is the greenest and most picturesque region of the Czech Republic, with a rich history and unique architectural sights. A third of its area is covered with forests and seven thousand pounds.
- Stí nad Labem – this area is also called the “Gateway to the Czech Republic,” as it is surrounded by hills – former volcanoes, from the tops of which an impressive view of the whole Czech Republic opens. The region will be attractive for those who like to explore ancient cities and their architecture. And for those who prefer rest among the picturesque nature – there are many reserves here. Thanks to volcanic soils, the region grows the highest quality hops in the world.
- Liberec Region – the region is famous for its magnificent nature and ski resorts. It is also considered the birthplace of a precious stone – Czech garnet.
- Hradec Králové Region – the region is home to the highest mountains of the Czech Republic – the Krkonoše with numerous ski resorts, a large number of castles and fortresses, and the most significant Czech zoo – an authentic African safari.
- Pardubice Region – looks like heaven on earth. Along with its magnificent nature, this region is proud of its history and technical monuments. On the National Stud Farm territory in Kladruby nad Labem, you can see how the white breed of Starokladruby horses is bred.
- The Olomouc Region attracts tourists with its nature reserves and the Jeseníky Mountains with exceptional climatic conditions. This area is rich in its cultural traditions and ancient monuments.
- The Zlín Region has Czech traditions and folklore, good wine and plum brandy, delicious food, and mysterious castles. Visit the local town of Zlín with its unusual architecture in the Czech Republic. Thanks to the local businessman Tomáš Bati, who invited the most distinctive architects in the 1930s, the city has become a natural monument to functionalism.
- South Moravian Region – This hospitable region is considered a wine-growing region, as 96% of the Czech vineyards are located here. A region with beautiful picturesque nature and UNESCO Intangible Heritage Sites.
- Central Bohemian Region – the atmosphere of local towns and villages is created by the legacy of ancient royal dynasties, the prints of which can be found all over the region.
Old cities of the Czech Republic
In addition to castles in the Czech Republic, it is worth visiting ancient cities, in which a vast number of historical and architectural monuments are concentrated.
Cesky Krumlov is the most famous historical area of South Bohemia, located in the Sumava foothills, famous for its stunning ensemble of Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque buildings. Cesky Krumlov Castle is the largest in the Czech Republic after Prague Castle, and it is also included in the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage List. The ensemble of the castle consists of 40 buildings and palaces, five courtyards, and a garden.
The castle on the old trade route was founded in the 1st half of the 13th century by representatives of the Vitkovich family. The architecture and the castle’s name determined its geographical location: the court was located in a loop formed by the bend of the Vltava River (die Krumme Au – crooked meadow). Podhradie got the name Latran (latus – side, side), and it was also planned to consider the river’s bends. Initially built in the Gothic style, the vast castle complex has changed – first in the Baroque style, then in the Rococo style. In the city, tourists will be interested in a garden and a park, theater, galleries, cellars. The dominant feature of the old town is the church of St. Vitus rising on the steep bank of the river. Buildings decorated in the sgraffito style, red-tiled roofs, and gilded turrets give Krumlov a unique charm and style.
Not far from Krumlov, only 32 kilometers away, there is a new (opened in 2012) attraction – a wooden observation tower at the top of Kremlin, above Lake Lipno. This tower is unique among structures of this kind for its pedestrian zone – a wooden suspended frame begins on the ground and gradually rises to the top of the building. In 2012, this site was named the best new Czech landmark.
Telč is a city on the water, Moravian Venice, whose layout is due to the presence of three artificial reservoirs and a bypass channel – the former castle moat. The city’s historical core is an old fortress, which has retained its appearance since the Middle Ages. The Gothic castle on the water was founded in the 13th century, and the building acquired its modern appearance during the reconstruction in the 16th century. The main building of the old city is a palace with rich interiors:
- The Golden
- Theater and Knights’ Halls
- The All Saints’ Chapel
- A treasury
- A banquet hall decorated in the sgraffito technique
The town of Jindrichuv Hradec is home to the third-largest castle complex in the Czech Republic, built in the 13th century on the historical border between Bohemia, Moravia, and Austria. The complex’s main building is a Gothic palace with valuable paintings, the Church of St. John the Baptist with rare frescoes, and a former Minorite monastery. The city is famous for its annual classical music (Concertino Praga) and folk music (Folková růže) festivals.
Brno is the capital of Moravia and the second most important and largest city in the Czech Republic. The most recognizable symbol of Brno is the Gothic castle of Spielberg, the silhouette of which is depicted on Czech coins. The court was founded in the 13th century on the summit of the Spielberg mountain.
Once in Brno, it is worth exploring the Moravian Gallery, the second largest museum in the Czech Republic, famous for its rich collection. The gallery, founded in 1961, contains objects of free art – not only painting, graphics, and plastic arts from ancient times to the present, but also photography, applied art, and graphic design.
Also noteworthy in Brno is the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul, the Basilica of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, the Church of St. Jacob, the Town Hall, the Church of St. Michael.
The historic town of Kutná Hora, the second largest after Prague in the 14th century, became famous for its silver mines. In the 16th century, after the cessation of silver mining, its importance fell, but the town retained its charm, becoming one of the most famous tourist centers in the country. Tourists may find it interesting to visit the Chapel of All Saints, built around 1400 at a Gothic cathedral in the cemetery of the Cistercian monastery in Sedlec. As a result of the cholera epidemic of 1318 and during the Hussite wars at the beginning of the 15th century, the cemetery grew considerably. The arriving bones began to be piled up in pyramids. In 1870, by order of the Schwarzenberg’s, woodcarver Frantisek Rint decorated the chapel’s interior with bones from 40,000 skeletons, from the altar to the chandelier.
It is worth visiting Vlašský Dvor – a cultural monument of Kutnogorsk, which is a complex of buildings from the 13th – 14th centuries, once the residence of Czech kings, with an old mint; the stone palace Hradek, which today houses the Silver Museum with an exciting exposition; Cathedral of St. Barbara – Czech Notre Dame de Paris.
Plze, the fourth largest city in the Czech Republic, located in the country’s west, stretches at the confluence of four rivers – Uslava, Uglava, Radbuza, and Mži. Pilsen is famous for the following attractions: the tallest church tower in the Czech Republic (103 m) – the tower of the Cathedral of St. Bartholomew, the cathedral itself with the late Gothic Sternberg Chapel, the Town Hall, the dungeons, the Museum of West Bohemia, the third largest synagogue in the world in the Moor-Romanesque style.
As you know, Plze is the capital of Czech brewing, and Plze beer of the Prazdroi and Gambrinus brands is brewed here. The beer is produced according to the old technology, unchanged since the century before last, and the inimitable taste to the drink, according to the Czechs, is given by the Pilsen water, its malt, and the unique storage conditions in the cellars. You can learn more about the history of the Plzeský Prazdroj brewery in the Brewery Museum.
The Terezin Fortress was founded at the end of the 18th century at the confluence of the Laba and Ohři rivers, 5 km south of Litoměřice. During World War II, the German invaders set up a concentration camp for Jews in the fortress, the so-called Terezin ghetto, which housed a little less than 140,000 people (of whom 33,000 died while in the ghetto). Some of the Jews (88,000 people) were deported to Auschwitz and other death camps. By the end of the war, 17,247 people had survived in the ghetto. Soviet troops liberated Terezin on May 9, 1945. Today Terezín houses the Memorial to the Victims of the Concentration Camp.
Medical resorts of the Czech Republic
The Czech Republic is a recognized destination for health tourism, and the country is famous for its thermal and mineral spas, the most famous of which is Karlovy Vary. The city was founded by Emperor Charles IV century. 1358 appeared in a place where 132 mineral springs break through to the earth’s surface, 12 of which are with healing water. The resort has a glorious history; the entire world elite came here to improve their health: monarchs, prominent political figures, famous people of art. The city’s streets repeat the bends formed by the Teplaya River, across which openwork bridges are thrown. The town is decorated with picturesque buildings of different eras, parks, squares. In addition to medical procedures shown for a wide range of diseases, and pleasant walks in the bosom of nature, you can always enjoy your time here. For example, the city hosts the Karlovy Vary Film Festival – the second most important in Europe after the Cannes Film Festival.
Marianske Lazne -the second most important resort in the Czech Republic after Karlovy Vary, whose history begins in 1528 – discovered Ferdinand’s spring. Today there are about 40 mineral springs here.
Another Czech town with a spa tradition is Frantiskovy Lazne, popular mainly among women, as the local mud successfully treats infertility.
You can find out more about the country’s resorts in our article “Therapeutic spas of the Czech Republic,” which tells about the most popular places for treatment on the waters.
Aquapark Babylon is located in Liberec and is part of the largest entertainment center in the Czech Republic Babylon. The interiors of the water park resemble antique baths, and the most popular attractions are the “wild river” and the adrenaline “space bowl.”
The AquaPalace water park is located in the village of Čestlice near Prague – it is the largest water park in Central Europe. The complex consists of the Palace of Waves, the Palace of Adventures, and Relaxation. There is a diving tunnel for lovers of deep-sea diving, and sauna lovers can visit the classic Finnish saunas, Roman baths, and Russian baths.
The Aqua-Olomouc water park is located in Olomouc and is famous for its adrenaline-pumping attractions. Visitors are also offered a massage, solarium, and tepidarium (dry heating zone).
Where to go in the Czech Republic
Prague Old Town
The Old Town of Prague (Old Town) is the central, oldest, and most popular part of the Czech capital. Everything that Prague is associated with is concentrated here: narrow cobbled streets, unique buildings built in different architectural styles from Gothic to Art Nouveau, beautiful copper doorknobs, orange roofs, and the indescribable charm of a medieval city.
The Charles Bridge
Charles Bridge is a famous Prague landmark, one of the recognizable symbols of the city, so adored by tourists.
The medieval Charles Bridge over the Vltava River is a pedestrian, free entrance, open around the clock.
The bridge connects two historical districts – Stare Mesto and Mala Strana.
The length of the Charles Bridge in Prague is 515.76 meters (usually rounded up to 520 meters).
In the very center of Prague Castle, there is a picturesque street called Zlata Ulichka. Along the cobblestone pavement, there are tiny multi-colored “gingerbread” houses built into the arches of the former fortress wall.
National Park “Bohemian Switzerland”
This reserve, which has no analogues in Europe, stretches from the town of Tisza in the Ustecky region to the Shluknovsky ledge in the Decinsky region. The park was founded on January 1, 2000, and became a Czech extension of the German Sächsische Schweiz National Park (Saxon Switzerland), founded 10 years earlier (1990). The Bohemian Switzerland Park is part of the vast natural complex of Labske Piskovce, and the main object of protection is the characteristic sandstone phenomenon – the “rocky sandstone town” of Etrschowické and Dečinské Stena, and the associated biological diversity. Tourists love to visit observation decks with unique views of sandy cliffs, bridges and castles created by nature. The park is popular with fans of active sports: climbers, cyclists, rafting and hiking enthusiasts.
Wild nature, which for a long time developed without human intervention, was discovered at the end of the 18th century by two Swiss artists of the Romantic era – Adrian Zingg and Anton Graf. Depicting this land in engravings and describing in poetry, they quickly spread the fame of it throughout Europe. The sites along the Elbe River canyon have become the cradle of modern tourism, becoming one of the first actively visited tourist attractions in Europe.
Not only artists came here for inspiration. Forts of robber knights, rock towns, legends about gnomes and fairies influenced the storyteller Hans Christian Andersen, poet R.M. Rilke, composers K.M. von Weber, Richard Wagner and others.
And today the Pravcicke Gate is a symbol of “Czech Switzerland”, conquering artists, for example, the snow-covered Silent Rocks became the scenery for the film “The Chronicles of Narnia – The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe”. It was here that Lucy visited the cave of the faun Tumnus, and all four brothers and sisters crossed the rocky bridge for the first time and looked at the endless forests of Narnia.
This was once a serious obstacle for the inhabitants of local villages. Once in 1877, at the U Zeleného stromu tavern in the town of Hřensko, five brave souls made a bet that they would sail on rafts from the Dolskoy mill to what was then called the “end of the world”. On rafts 4 meters long, they really safely reached Hrzhensk, in fact, becoming the founders of the tourist water route. The local prince Clari-Aldringen invited specialists from Italy, under whose leadership, through the labor of over two hundred workers, these sites became available to the public. Suspended bridges were thrown here, tunnels were built with the help of explosives. On May 4, 1890, the grand opening of the “Quiet” (“Edmond’s”) canyon took place. Since then, “at the very end of the world”, in fact, nothing has changed much,
The Moravian Karst, or Moravian Karst, is a nature reserve, one of the largest karst massifs in Europe, located in the Czech Republic, 30 km north of Brno.
The area stretches 25 km in length. Its width in some places is 6 km. The natural park covers an area of 92 sq. km. The highest height of rock formations in reserve is 734 m. The lowest place of Kras is the Macokha abyss, which has 138 m with the Punkva River at the bottom. For tourists, unique bridges (Upper and Lower) were equipped over the abyss, from which a stunning and, at the same time, a terrible panorama of the gorge opens up.
The most popular among tourists are the caves of the Moravian Kras, of which there are about 1,100 pieces. Only five underground cavities are equipped for excursions in the Moravian Beauty, among which it is worth mentioning the Punkva cave, through which the Punkva underground river of the same name flows; deep cave Macokha; Katezhinskaya cave with unique limestone formations – helictites growing horizontally; the Balcarka stalactite cave and the Stolbsko-Shoshuvsky caves with spacious underground corridors. Other attractions of the Moravian Karst include the Empty Trough and Dry Trough karst canyons and the White Water Gap.
Unique flora and fauna protect the reserve. Many species of plants and animals are endemic. In some caves, ancient rock paintings have been found on the walls.
On the reserve territory, the so-called “ecological trains” run, delivering tourists to remote points of the park. Tourists should remember that it is stably cold even in summer in the caves, so it is worth bringing a set of warm clothes with you.
Dancing House in Prague
The Dancing House in Prague is the image of a couple in dance, expressed in urban architecture. The house consists of two towers called “Ginger and Fred,” referring to the famous Hollywood dancer and actor couple Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire. The comparison is indeed justified: one tower is straight, has the shape of a cylinder, expanding upward, and symbolizes a man. And the second tower – glass, depicts the figure of a woman with a narrow waist. In the dance, she seemed to lean against her partner. The building’s less flattering nickname is The Drunk House.
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