Tracing the path of the Hiiu Swedes
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.
The route includes the following stops:
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Not all of us are born sailors, but you can get a small taste of the maritime life by travelling around the world. Especially, of course, if that land is the island of Hiiu. Why were lighthouses built, how are harbours developed, when did iron ships replace wooden ones and are there still fish in the sea? Keep in touch with the sea and you’ll learn a lot about it.
How, what, who or what rituals people believe in has changed over time. Worshipping of protective heather trees, land mothers and spring spirits began in Hiiumaa in the 13th century. All this took time, and so it is still possible to go to the sacred trees (Tärkma oak and Ülendi lime). Of the Christian churches on the island, you can see large parish churches (such as Pühalepa, dating from the 13th century), auxiliary churches or chapels (such as Kassari), Orthodox churches (such as Kuriste), as well as houses of worship of the Brethren, Baptists or Pentecostals. In addition to these, pastorates (such as Reigi), cemeteries (such as Kuri) and parsonages (such as Käina) are closely linked to religious life. This is all worth exploring.
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!
The Hiiu-Kärdla quarry was founded in 1829. by the Ungern-Sternberg brothers. By 1830, a large and magnificent woolen cloth factory had been built in Kärdla. The company changed and grew over time, but above all, the industrial company changed Kärdla. Over the years, the small Swedish village became a well-kept workers’ settlement – the forerunner of today’s small town. The factory was destroyed during World War II in the autumn of 1941. However, there are still clear traces of the factory era in the square and throughout Kärdla. This is evidenced by the network of streets created during this period and the modern workers’ houses built with the help of the factory. Although the company is known to have been started in Suuremõisa, the Ungern-Sternberg brothers’ main manor house, we recommend starting the journey in Kärdla at Vabriku Square, where the transforming company was located. If you wish, you can enter the former factory directors’ residence (Pikk Maja), where the SA Hiiumaa Museum is located. There you can see a model of the factory.