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Tajikistan Travel Guide: Best Places to Visit And Things To Do

Handsome Tajikistan is one of the most ancient states globally, and people founded it long before our era. He managed to carry many sights through the centuries; among them, there are truly unique and unsurpassed natural beauty and traces of ancient civilizations. Today, tourists from the expanses of the former Soviet Union increasingly prefer to study Tajikistan. Since it is easy to get to it, there is no need to apply for visas, and there is no less entertainment than on popular tourist routes.

Among the main reasons to visit this great country are:

  • ancient cities, monuments, and buildings;
  • mountains of fantastic beauty, which every climber considers it an honor to climb;
  • unique culture, national clothes, and folklore;
  • rich oriental cuisine with a wide assortment;
  • no visa regime, fast flight.

Tajikistan is the smallest state in Central Asia. Squeezed between Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan, and China, small Tajikistan is landlocked. There is a large part of the Pamir mountain system on its territory, and the capital is the city of Dushanbe. Mountains occupy more than ninety percent of the country’s territory, and the poorly developed infrastructure does not allow mining. However, many valuable resources are hidden in the rocky depths, waiting in the wings.

Among all Asian countries, only in Tajikistan do citizens speak the Iranian language (except, of course, Iran ). Most of the citizens are Muslims, albeit in different streams. Among them, the most common are the Sunnis.

The population of Tajikistan is growing steadily every year. If in 2010 there were seven and a half million citizens, by 2018, it had increased by almost one and a half million. Even in the late 1980s, when the migration of residents of the countries of the former Soviet Union peaked, the population continued to grow. Over the past eleven years, almost half a million people have migrated from the government.

Tajikistan is a multi-religious country where both Muslims and Christians get along well. The overwhelming majority of Christians are Orthodox. In the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region, founded in 1925, one can meet Shiites – Muslims who believe that the head of the Muslim community is not the Caliphs, but the Imams – these are the chosen descendants of the Prophet. More than eighty non-Muslim organizations operate in the country, including Jews, Baha’is, and Zoroastrians. There are also enough Orthodox citizens, and officially there are six parishes of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Modern Tajikistan dates back to the eight hundredth years of our era. Then the territory was ruled by the Samanid dynasty. This lasted until the fourteenth century until the Turkic-Mongol people conquered the region. In the second half of the nineteenth century, the country became part of the Russian Empire. After the Great October Revolution of 1917, Soviet power came, and resistance detachments, called the Basmach detachments, rebelled in Tajikistan. Their goal was the expulsion of the Bolshevik government from their land. The Basmachi military-political partisan movement then operated almost throughout the entire territory of Soviet Central Asia. The Bolsheviks defeated this movement just three years after its appearance, and soon the republic was named the Tajik Autonomous Socialist Soviet Republic.

The years of Soviet rule became a time of recovery for Tajikistan, and it developed in all directions: culture, economy, society grew like never before. In 1991, the Soviet Union collapsed, splitting into 15 different republics. Tajikistan was no exception and was recognized as an independent state.

Climate and weather in Tajikistan

Tajikistan is characterized by a sharply continental climate with frequent droughts. In the lowlands, subtropics reign, in the middle of the mountains, the weather is moderately warm, and cold begins on the tops of the rutting heights.

The average summer temperature ranges from twenty to thirty degrees Celsius. In winter, the optimum temperature is zero degrees. At the highest points of Tajikistan, the temperature in winter often drops to minus thirty and sometimes to minus fifty in the Pamirs. In summer, the temperature in these areas, as a rule, does not exceed plus fifteen degrees. From mid-autumn to spring, storms are common here, and sandstorms occur in summer on the flat parts of the country, lasting up to a week.

Mountaineering lovers choose the second half of the summer to travel to the mountains, as this period is considered the most favorable and safe. From the very beginning of spring, valleys begin to bloom in the southern parts of Tajikistan, turning into long picturesque landscapes with a wide range of colors.

Cities and regions

The division of the territory of the state of Tajikistan into parts takes place with the help of the official laws of the republic, adopted on November 4, 1995. As a result of this law, Tajikistan was divided into the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region and such administrative units as viloyat, Shahr, and nohia shahrak, chamois depot, deha (in decreasing order of importance).

Mausoleum of Sheikh Muslikhiddin (XVII-XVIII centuries)

However, guests of the country will be more interested in the cities of Tajikistan that are significant from a tourist point of view:

Dushanbe

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Dushanbe is a fabulous large city that is the capital of Tajikistan. It can be safely called the country’s administrative center, both politically, culturally, and economically. Everything here is full of historical events. Walking through the local squares, ancient buildings, and museums, you can learn about the life of the previous civilizations that existed here many centuries ago. The founder of this State is Ismail Samani, after whom the local currency is named.

Currently, it is the capital of Tajikistan and the largest sunny city with a developed infrastructure. Tajik historical memory is confirmed by many streets and squares named after famous national poets and writers. Also, Dushanbe is the center of the industrial sector because there is produced about a third of the country’s total production.

The city is located on a hill – about 900 meters above sea level, in the area of ​​the rich greenery of the Gissar vaValleyIt. It is the western point of the State. Has a total area of ​​127 square kilometers. Dushanbe is a high-mountainous capital, very close to the border of the city. Mountain peaks immediately begin. The population is over 820 thousand people, of which 84% of residents are Tajiks.

A significant role in this city is assigned to scientific achievements and cultural recreation. The republican Academy of Sciences was founded here, including 26 research institutes working in all areas of modern science. There are also 13 higher, several dozen secondary specialized and professional technical educational institutions working here. There are five theaters of various directions, a circus, a philharmonic society, over 60 cinemas. The main pride of Dushanbe is the Tajikfilm film studio and the Ferdowsi State Library.

Khujand

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Khujand is located in the northern part of Tajikistan. It is the second-largest city in the country and one of the oldest in Central Asia. According to the 2018 census, more than 179 thousand people live in it.

Khujand is located in a beautiful valley on the banks of the Syr Darya River, and mountains rise around it. Thanks to this location, the air in the city is fresh and clean. Khujand is not a modern metropolis but rather an echo of the Soviet and post-Soviet times. The streets of the town are quiet and bright, and the people are friendly and helpful. In the markets, you can buy delicious, juicy, and inexpensive fruits.

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Khujand is an ancient city. No one can say for sure when people first settled here. The founding date of Khujand is considered to be 514 BC. NS.

In the VI century. BC NS., the city, was conquered by Alexander the Great and was named Alexandria Eskhati. In the VIII century. the Arabs and the XIII century captured it. – Tatar-Mongols, who almost destroyed the city. But thanks to the favorable location and the fact that trade routes passed through it, the city was restored. Over time, it turned into a major center for science, culture, politics, and trade.

In 1866, Khujand was conquered by the Russian Empire and received new development opportunities. During the Soviet era, the city was renamed Leninabad.

Penjikent

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Modern Penjikent is located in the west of Tajikistan, among the picturesque mountains. It is located on the left bank of the mountain river Zarafshan (Zeravshan), East of Samarkand. Penjikent was officially recognized as a city only in 1953. According to the 2020 census, more than 35 thousand people live in it.

Penjikent is a tourist city. It is famous for its sights and architectural monuments. And after the excursions, you can relax on the bank of the Zaravshan, in the recreation area.

The first settlements on the territory of present-day Penjikent appeared more than 5.5 thousand years ago. It is recognized as one of the oldest in Central Asia. Initially, five villages were located on the site of the city, which gave it its name because Penjikent is translated as “Pyatigradie.”
In the V-VIII centuries. n. NS. the city stood out from the rest. He was known as the “Central Asian Pompeii”; it was a significant center of culture and crafts of ancient Sogdiana.

The city’s development was greatly facilitated by the fact that the Great Silk Road passed through it. Penjikent was the first significant settlement that a person or a caravan met on its way, descending from the Kuhistan mountains. And he was the last to see off travelers on the road from Samarkand to the hills. That is, no one walking along the Great Silk Road could pass Penjikent.

In the VIII century. n. NS. There was a decisive battle with the Arab Caliphate on Mount Mug. In this battle, the Arabs won a victory, and they destroyed the beautiful city of Penjikent. It was forgotten for many years until archaeologists accidentally stumbled upon its ruins in the last century.

Now what was once a great city is open to tourists. The ruins of residential buildings, a citadel with a courtyard, a church of fire worshipers, administrative buildings – all this gives an idea of ​​the past of Penjikent. There are also unique archaeological remains of the Stone and Bronze Ages on its territory: the settlement of Sarazm and the Aktanga canopy. Sarazm is considered the center of Sogd culture.

Once in Penjikent, it will not be superfluous to drive a little to the mountain village of Mazari Sharif, which is famous for the majestic mausoleum of Muhammad Bashoro (XII-XIV centuries AD).

In Penjikent, there are also the only works of art in Central Asia created by the masters of Sogdiana in the 5th-7th centuries. The surviving examples of sculpture and painting are recognized as one of the most significant cultural monuments of the East.

To preserve the architectural values ​​of ancient and medieval Penjikent, the republic’s government founded the State Museum-Reserve. Its collection includes a cemetery, where you can admire wall paintings, a medieval city-fortress with a palace, residential quarters, artisan workshops, and shops.

Many exciting exhibits are kept in the Rudaki Museum. There are coins made of silver and bronze, skillful wooden and ceramic sculptures, metal and glass products of Asian masters.
Outstanding painters worked in Penjikent. This is evidenced by the richly painted temples, palaces, and houses of noble townspeople. It is not without reason that the city is known as the “ocean of Sogdian painting.”

What to see

Over its centuries-old history, Tajikistan was ruled by representatives of different cultures, and after each of them, many buildings have become the country’s cultural heritage. In addition to artificial sights, the republic is proud of its extraordinary multifaceted nature. Lakes, mountains, thermal springs – it isn’t easy to visit everything in one trip. Trade routes connecting the West with the East and stretching for thousands of kilometers left a significant mark.

The capital of Tajikistan, the city of Dushanbe, has had the status of wealth only since the last century, but its history goes back centuries. This is the largest city in the country, once in it, you need to visit the square named after Sadriddin Aini, the court of the eight hundredth anniversary of Moscow, the Putovsky square (now Ismail Somoni), the Hissar fortress, the theaters named after Mayakovsky and named after Lakhuti, as well as the ethnographic museum. Ancient manuscripts of the rulers of Tajikistan have been preserved in the Republican Library named after Ferdowsi. More: sights of Dushanbe.

In addition to Dushanbe, cities rich in attractions include:
  • Khujand, a city – a fortress, built at the beginning of our millennium. The Khujand fortress has survived to this day and attracts tourists from all countries of the former USSR. In addition to it, the city has a large mosque and a monument to Kamol Khujand. 
  • Penjikent, whose age is more than five thousand years, invites tourists to visit the remains of the ancient village of Kainar and the mausoleum of Rudaki. 
  • Istaravshan recently celebrated its 2500th anniversary. This is an actual city – a museum. It houses dozens of large ancient mosques and the mausoleums of Khazrati Shokh, Khudoer Balami, and Chor-Gumbaz. 
  • Hissar. People settled in the territory of modern Gissar about forty thousand years ago. To this day, a unique reserve with the Hissar fortress at its head has been preserved in it.
  • Kulyab witnessed the emergence of the Great Silk Road, and to this day, remains one of the most important political, trade, and cultural centers of Tajikistan. Guests of the city willingly go to the city history museum.
  • Kurgan-Tube appeared already in our millennium, but the exact date of its appearance is unknown. Not far from it is a unique attraction – the Buddhist monastery Ajina Tepe.
  • Khorog. Due to its subtropical climate, Khorog is green and calm, which is its undoubted advantage. It is proud of its unique botanical garden and Kofir-Kala fortress.

Travel along the Pamir Highway, which is more than seven hundred kilometers long, is popular with tourists. This road borders Afghanistan and China and is one of the longest paved roads in the world. Traveling along the Pamir Highway will become one of the most fascinating and picturesque journeys in the life of even experienced tourists, but do not forget about the dangers. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the road has not been adequately maintained and has simply been falling apart over time. Road petrol stations are scarce, and one cannot even dream of car services, so before sending, you should make sure that the car is in good working order, stock up on gasoline, oil, water, and provisions.

In the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region, there is a unique natural spring – the hot mineral spring Garmchashna. The health resort of the same name is located not far from it. According to ancient legends, the water from there has medicinal properties. Several thousand years ago, pilgrims went to this source, considering it a saint.

The world organization United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has included several protected areas of Tajikistan in the list of world heritage sites: the Garmchashna spring, Lake Zorkul, Fan Mountains, and several reserves.

On Pamir Mountain, the pearl of Tajikistan, traces of ancient peoples’ residences appear before tourists. At various heights of the mountain, there are several settlements with a thousand-year history and rock paintings, fortresses, and the ancient city of Bazar-Dara. Ore was mined in this city in the tenth century. About one and a half thousand people lived in Bazar-Dar. After themselves, they left several houses, a temple, a bathhouse, and several other buildings. The Yamchun fortress was one of the first to be built in the Pamirs; it was created to control the movement of merchants and defend against raids by robbers about three thousand years ago. Kaakha became the second fortress; it was built in the fourth century AD and outwardly resembled Yamchun.

Separately, it is worth mentioning the Sarez Lake located in the Pamirs. It was born not so long ago – at the beginning of the twentieth century, after a powerful earthquake. The length of the lake is almost sixty kilometers, and the depth reaches five hundred meters. The lake with stunning landscapes is one of the most beautiful sights and a severe danger to the country. The fact is that with the destruction of the dam that appeared after the earthquake, most of Tajikistan will be flooded, and with it, the territories of several neighboring states. At the beginning of the twenty-first century, the world community drew attention to this problem, but it has not been possible to solve it so far since the budget of Tajikistan does not have funds to strengthen the dam.

Where to go in Tajikistan

Historical complex Hulbuk

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Hulbuk is a sizeable historical complex in Tajikistan, located near the Kurban-Shaid village of the Vose district of the Khatlon region. The complex includes the Ruler’s Palace, the citadel, and the surviving parts of the settlement of the 9th-12th centuries. At the end of the last century, Hulbuk was nominated by UNESCO as a candidate for the title of a World Historical Value and Heritage Site.

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hulbuk was part of the Ghaznavid state and was part of the vast city of Khishttep in the center of the Khuttal region. Modern hulbuk covers an area of ​​about 70 hectares, of which modern buildings occupy most of it. Only a few fragments of their ancient history of the settlement have survived. After a long reconstruction, this archaeological complex was opened to all visitors in 2006. Today you can visit the Khulbuk historical museum-reserve, which occupies more than 16 hectares. Every year, several thousand tourists from all over the world come to enjoy the view of the citadel and palace, wander among the ancient walls and buildings, and appreciate more than five thousand museum exhibits.

The citadel of ancient hulbuk has a rectangular shape and is divided into two parts. The southern part has mighty defensive walls with a height of about 15 m. Its area is only 50 * 50 m. The northern part of the citadel occupies a much larger space, but its walls are much lower than the southern ones (10 m). The total area of ​​the defense is 50 * 150 m. Inside the fortress, the Ruler’s Palace has been preserved in almost perfect condition.

The excavations at hulbuk took place in three stages. The first began in early 1953 when the walls of the palace and separate fragments of the barriers that surrounded it were discovered. The continuation of the archaeological expedition started in March 1957. Within eight years, it was possible to discover almost the entire complex, find countless artifacts and household items of that time. The final stage came to an end just before the opening of the museum reserve.

The results of the excavations made it possible to confidently say that the tradition of wall painting continued to exist in this area even after the formation of Islam. For the construction of the buildings of the settlement, burnt and raw bricks were used. For interior decoration, plaster and terracotta parquet were used. And its water supply system in the territory was able to provide its inhabitants with clean water fully. The excavations made it possible to compile a complete picture of the life and various occupations of the ancient people of hulbuk.

National Library of Tajikistan named after Ferdowsi

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The National Library of Tajikistan, located in Dushanbe, is a real treasury of knowledge, which contains more than 6 million printed publications. It is the largest book depository in the country and is recognized as an important cultural heritage site. In the halls of the library, a state cultural institution, and a research center, you can find printed products of all kinds, audio and video materials, and ancient manuscripts from the Middle Ages.

The library first opened in the winter of 1933. Then it did not resemble today’s institution: the library was built based on the existing book depository of the city of Stalinbad. A year later, she received the name of Abulkasim Ferdowsi, a Persian-Tajik poet of the 9th-10th centuries AD.

The modern library, located in Dushanbe, appeared in its place in the spring of 2012. This event was marked by a magnificent ceremony, which was honored with his presence by the President of Tajikistan, Emomali Rahmon. The new building is made in the spirit of the national traditions of Tajikistan, which are intertwined with modern architectural trends, forming an organic combination. The nine-story structure from the outside resembles an open book, which reflects the inner content in the best possible way: the book depository contains a vast number of publications in different languages, including unique works of the peoples of the ancient East, the manuscripts of Rudaki, Ibn Sino, Saadi. Such a collection is a real gem among the libraries of Central Asia: there is simply no other such large-scale institution.

The building in which the book depository is located consists of 4 blocks located symmetrically relative to the central entrance. Each block has its number of floors. The total area of ​​the premises is almost 45 thousand square meters. M and the height of the building reach 152 m. On the facade, two dozen busts depict historical figures, great scientists, writers, and national heroes of Tajikistan.

Library visitors have 25 reading rooms at their disposal; several exhibition galleries, which showcase works from the Middle Ages and unique books of exceptional scientific and historical interest; galleries of printed publications in different sections; a hall for exhibitions, which showcases the latest arrivals of literature; 9 assembly halls with 1100 seats, which are used for conferences, meetings or public events.

In addition to paper media, information technologies are actively used in the library. So, anyone can use the search in the electronic catalog and get access to the necessary data in a convenient form. State-of-the-art equipment has raised the level of service to readers to a fundamentally new level, satisfying the needs of every visitor.

Ancient settlement  

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It is generally accepted that the most ancient settlement of Tajikistan originated in the IV-II centuries. BC NS. However, scientists still cannot come to a common point of view about the time of the appearance of the settlement. This monument, which is of great value at the moment, was named Sarazm. By the way, the settlement’s name speaks for itself: its etymological roots lead to the Tajik word “sarizamin,” that is, “the beginning of the earth.” Indeed, Sarazm is the founder of a great civilization and a new distinctive cultural layer.

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Located on the left bank of the Zaravshan River, which in translation means “gold-bearing,” Sarazm from its inception specialized in agriculture, cattle breeding, and metallurgy. The favorable geographical position contributed to the development of the region’s economy: the mountain ranges generously endowed the inhabitants with minerals and minerals, and the river made it possible to process the stones found in the mines. In addition, due to access to other lands, the settlement inhabitants were actively engaged in trade. They had something to surprise because a well-established jewelry business, ceramic and metallurgical production provided many valuable and necessary things. Merchants from Iran, Turkmenistan, and other ancient neighboring territories showed interest in the goods. This is confirmed by archaeologists’ data on the discovery of items and jewelry made of various precious stones.

The settlement is part of one of the Bronze Age civilizations – the Bactrian-Margian complex. From an architectural point of view, Sarazm consists of 13 objects located at different distances from each other. Scientists have carefully analyzed the relief structure at the settlement site and concluded that Sarazm occupied a vast territory (about 100 hectares). The designs of the Central Asian settlement have been well preserved, so cultural scientists from all over the world have studied every stone of the ancient palace and residential buildings literally by a centimeter. For example, religious buildings had distinctive features and a unique atmosphere, which was created with the help of wall paintings and a special hearth-altar.

The monument to Sarazm was destroyed during the invasion of nomads from the Iranian lands. Therefore, many elements of the life and culture of the inhabitants of Sarazm have sunk into oblivion. In the second half of the 20th century, lands began to be plowed up on the once majestic ancient settlement territory. Workers now and then stumbled upon antiques, jewelry, tools. However, no one knew how it all ended up on endless fields. For the first time, archaeologists learned about the finds from a war veteran who lived in the Penjikent region. After that, research and expeditions began, during which many artifacts were discovered and the remains of a monument – the ancient settlement of Sarazm – were excavated.

Tajik National Park

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By official documents signed by the republic’s government, the Tajik National Park was opened on the territory of the Pamir Mountains, which is under the protection of UNESCO as a natural heritage site that requires special supervision.

Today, the Tajik NP is considered the most critical object of ecological tourism in the country. Wild and untouched nature, rich flora and fauna, picturesque mountain peaks, and many other nuances attract tourists from all over the world. Animals and birds have been preserved here, as well as many plants classified as endangered species. In the park itself, you can find several of the highest mountain peaks.

In addition, on the reserve territory, you can find one of the most significant objects for mountaineering and mountain tourism – the Fedchenko glacier, with an area of ​​over seven hundred km2. The natural park is rich in sources of medicinal waters. Also, it provides an opportunity to improve your health in one of the best sanatoriums of the Ishkashim region – the thermal spring “Garmchashma.” According to legend, the healing water of the spring can cure even incurable diseases. Moreover, these places are of particular interest not only for tourists but also for historians. At one time, it was here that the “Great Silk Road” ran – one of the largest and most famous caravans in history. The Pamir Mountains are a place where you can find many historical monuments and natural attractions. For the attention of inquisitive travelers, are offered parking lots with rock paintings of the Stone Age,

Anvar Dzhamalovich Buzurukov took a direct part in the creation of the park. It should be noted that the Tajik (formerly Pamir) National Park is the development of the creative State Committee for Nature Protection of the USSR. The park received its current name because of the civil war and clan struggle that began in the country during the reserve’s opening. Today, the correct name appears on the lists of World Natural Heritage Sites. Moreover, the “Pamir Mountains” are the main attraction of modern Tajikistan.

The Pamir Mountains occupy an area of ​​several million hectares – approximately 15-18% of the country’s total area, about 60% of the territory of Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Okrug, and 40% of other regions of the country.

The International Natural Park promises to become one of the most protected natural areas (PAs), occupying a place at the junction of Pakistan, Afghanistan, China, and Tajikistan. The idea for implementing such an undertaking was the need to preserve endangered species of wild migratory animals, plants listed in the Red Book, as well as the organization, popularization, and development of the ecological segment of modern tourism. Subsequently, India and Kyrgyzstan may join the International National Park. A third of the park will receive the status of a specially protected area. At the same time, more than half will become a biosphere zone, contributing to the implementation of justified multipurpose recreation on lands allocated to preserve unique representatives of flora and fauna.

Mausoleum of Khazrati Shoh

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This legendary mausoleum is the burial place of Saint Hazrati Shokh, brother of Kusama ibn Abbas (he was a cousin of the Prophet Muhammad), whose body, in turn, was hidden in the Shahi Zinda ensemble in Samarkand in the 11th century. Around the same time, this complex arose, which is essential from the point of view of both history and architecture. The mausoleum is part of this complex, although its appearance was officially recorded in the 18th century due to the later buildings, which will be discussed below.

“Khazrati Shokh,” one of the oldest surviving sights of Tajikistan, is located in the “old” district of Istaravshan and is divided into three parts: the Khazrati Shokh mausoleum, Khudoyora Valami, and the Namazgokh mosque. Each of these religious buildings dates from a different time (up to the 19th century) but is located close to the others to form a semicircle. Despite their separate history, development, and purpose, they perfectly complement each other. Not so long ago, the complex included two more elements: a madrasah with blue domes and a city cemetery.

By our time, the Mazar has been restored more than once, thanks to which it has been possible to perfectly preserve both the tomb, also called Ngurah, and the prayer house, whose original name is Ziyoratkhon. And from the outside, the building with two domes looks beautiful, albeit modest, because of the simple brickwork. The nearby spring with healing, according to legends, water perfectly complements the view.

According to the same legends, the source owes its appearance to the Caliph Ali, who dipped his staff into the mountain lake Pikul. And that one surfaced at the feet of Khazratishokh, who was buried in Ura-Tube, where a spring appeared. From the moment of its inception, historians count the beginning of the existence of the mausoleum: soon, near the spring, residents built a symbol of the source of life, the burial of a venerable religious figure, and then a mausoleum arose over his grave.

Travel

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

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What are you waiting for? Any of these resort towns are a great option for your next stage in life.

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Travel

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!

History

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.

Northern Estonia

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.

Western Estonia

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.

Central Estonia

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.

Eastern Estonia

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.

South Estonia

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

Tallinn Zoo

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The Tallinn Zoo was founded in 1939.

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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

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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.”

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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

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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

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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.

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Aquapark in Tallinn

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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.

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Travel

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.

Czech Krumlov

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.

Telc

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
  • Blue
  • Theater and Knights’ Halls
  • The All Saints’ Chapel
  • A treasury
  • A banquet hall decorated in the sgraffito technique

Jindrichuv Hradec

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

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.

Kutná Hora

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.

Plzen

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.

Memorial Terezin

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.

Water parks

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

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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.

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The Charles Bridge

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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).

Golden Lane

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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”

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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.

Millions of years ago, the sea stretched here. Having collapsed, it left behind a unique land of high sandstone cliffs and towers, rocky arches, ravines and mountains with truncated peaks.

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.

One of the most famous landscape painters of all time, Caspar David Friedrich, came here for the motives of his paintings. The owners of the local estates quickly realized the attractiveness of the local dense forests and romantic outlines of the cliffs, they went to great lengths to make these places more accessible by building roads and bridges. On the Mariana Rock, the Wall of Welhelm and the Rudolph Stone, steps were made, benches were placed, and gazebos were placed on the peaks. Along the roads, new taverns and lodging places were opened for tourists, walking paths appeared, and the wild river Kamenice began to be used to move between the gorges.

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.

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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.

One of the main attractions of Bohemian Switzerland, along with the Pravcické Gate, is a romantic boat trip along the Quiet and Wild Canyons on the Kamenice River. It is a short but impressive boat ride with a gondolier between two sheer cliffs – in places so deep that direct sunlight hardly gets here.

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,

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Moravian Karst

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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

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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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