Following the manors
One long period of Estonian history, about 600-700 years, can be summed up by the word manor age. About 30 manors are known from this period in Hiiumaa, including church and pastoral manors. Manorial officials and landlords, mostly Baltic Germans, had a significant influence on local life through their ownership of large estates and the peasants who lived on them. The manorial system encouraged and caused injustice, including economic coercion and social inequality. On the other hand, the estates also brought us much that was new from the wider world, be it new working methods, plant varieties, recipes or developments in school and church life.
At the beginning of the 20th century, the time of the former manors was over. During the time of the Republic of Estonia (1918-1940), there were still a few functioning manors and estates leased to previous owners, but the manor life of the old days was no more. It was then that this long-lasting economic and political system of sorts finally fell apart. The manor’s buildings and land were taken over by new owners, be they former estate workers, farmers, companies or the state. Many large and magnificent buildings fell into disrepair for lack of the right owner and money.
The route includes the following stops:
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Small Hiiumaa has offered the world many greats, such as composer Rudolf Tobias, artist Ülo Sooster or writer Evald Mänd (Ain Kalmus). There are many other creative people who were born, lived, created or rested on the island, and we all have something to learn from them. Find their footprints, their creations and their thoughts!
With its peninsulas, Hiiumaa clearly stretches towards the main cardinal points. To the north lies the Tahkuna Peninsula, with its beautiful nature and rugged history. There, you too can move around the former Siberian-Swedish territories, exploring the 20th century. traces of the wars of the 19th century, visit the small Orthodox chapel and cemetery and climb to the top of the highest lighthouse in Hiiumaa. There can be other surprises by the sea and in the forests. Stay awake!
For hundreds of years, the dominant language in the northern part of Hiiumaa was Swedish, because the coastal Swedes lived here. They called themselves rather Hiro-Swedish. Their main centres or villages were Reigi and Kärdla. Unfortunately, about 1000 of the Reigi Swedes were sent on their way to present-day Ukraine in 1781, and the Swedes of Kärdla became the new settlers of either Vormsi or Noarootsi in the early 19th century. Those who remained gradually became Estonian-speaking Hiidans. However, what can easily be associated with the Swedes’ residence on Dagö or Hiiu island can still be seen today. Be it place names, churches, farms or something else.
Hiiumaa is a nature lover’s paradise. Almost 70% of the island is forested, some of which is now very scarce under virgin forest. Plants, animals and birds that are rare in Estonia can also be found on beaches and in meadows. Meteorite craters, hundreds of millions of years old, are an attraction, as are boulders and rock caves. Freshwater springs, deep karst caves and special coastal lakes offer additional experiences. Start the tour!