The 10 Best Things to Do in Viljandi, Estonia

December 4, 2017 Trinity Boughner

Viljandi (Estonian pronunciation: [ˈʋilʲˑjɑnʲˑdi]; German: Fellin) is a town and municipality in southern Estonia with a population of 17,473 in 2013. It is the capital of Viljandi County. The town was first mentioned in 1283, upon being granted its town charter by Wilhelm von Endorpe. The town became a member of the Hanseatic League at the beginning of the 14th century, and is one of five Estonian towns and cities in the league. The once influential Estonian newspaper Sakala was founded in Viljandi in 1878.
Restaurants in Viljandi

1. Ruins of the Viljandi Order Castle

Tasuja puiestee, Viljandi, Estonia
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4.5 based on 78 reviews

Ruins of the Viljandi Order Castle

The stone castle started to appear on the place of the former Estonian stronghold in 1224. The fortress got its final shape and size in the beginning of the 16th century and was one of the distinguished fortresses in Estonia and Latvia. Due to wars between Sweden, Poland and Russia all that is left from the entire order castle today are just a few stone walls.Already in the beginning of the last century the ruins of the fortress and the park around it turned into a recreational area for the residents of Viljandi. In order to access the castle hills from town a rope bridge was build from the Kaeuvumagi hill over the 13 meters deep trench in 1931. From the ruins you have the most beautiful view over the lake of Viljandi.

Reviewed By SFrances C

There is a lovely walking trail amongst these remains of an old Teutonic Castle in a park-like setting. The views of the lake from different parts of the ruins are just wonderful.

2. Viljandi Rope Bridge

Hariduse 12A, Viljandi 71011, Estonia
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4.5 based on 43 reviews

Viljandi Rope Bridge

The bridge made by the Riga company Felser & Co in 1879 was erected amid the castle hills in Viljandi in 1931. It was a present by the lord of the Tarvastu Manor Karl von Mensenkampf.Interesting to know:*The bridge is over 50 m long.* It was erected over a valley which is 15 m deep.* At first, the bridge was located over the moat in Tarvastu to make it easier for the family of the lord to visit the chapel in the ruins. The rope bridge has become a favourite object of both citizens and visitors of Viljandi and one of the town’s important symbols. It was reconstructed in 1995.

Reviewed By gladfly - New Castle, New Hampshire

Great day in the castle ruins park in Viljandi and coming across the bridge was exciting. Look down to see the old empty moats that were around during the castle. Great photo opportunity.

3. Viljandi Lossipark

Tasuja puiestee, Viljandi, Estonia +372 433 0442
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4.5 based on 19 reviews

Viljandi Lossipark

The park is located on the slope of the ancient valley and is named after the ruins of the order castle. When the town started to grow in the second half of the 19th century the need for a recreational zone arose. In 1863 the right to use the castle hills was received from the manor. The works were initiated in 1893.In 1925 the Varese sild (Crow bridge) was finished and connected the town with the park.Interesting to know:· the works where initially carried out by convicts. These were people who were bearing liability in the house of detention for whatever reason and were thereby able to shorten their sentence.A main component of the landscape of the park is the relief, the proximity of a body of water is also important.Take a look at the aerial Panorama (picture by Joel Tammet).

Reviewed By Bats7 - Northants

We enjoyed our visit here immensely it was so beautifully kept, ( as We found throughout Estonia).
There is a lovely peaceful feeling to the whole place even though there are little places to play and roll down little hills if you're under 20!!!
Throughout the park there are significant citizens memorials, please stop and look at them their stories are heroic and deserve to be honoured.
Take time and enjoy

4. Lake Viljandi

Viljandi, Viljandi, Estonia
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4 based on 22 reviews

Lake Viljandi

Lake Viljandi is in a primeval valley, which is 11 m deep, 450 m wide and 4600 metres long. The lake is well-known in Estonia thanks to the song about the boatman of VIljandi, who day-dreams about the beautiful blue eyes of a girl he once saw when he was young. The trail that goes around the lake will take hikers to the observation platform on the other shore where you will see a charming and unique silhouette of the town.

Reviewed By snowomyn - Waterloo, Canada

Down near the tennis courts and beach there is an extensive playground and fitness area. Excellent place for blowing off steam with kids. If you have to stop in Viljandi, this is the place to make the kids happy.

5. Kondas Center

Pikk 8, Viljandi 71003, Estonia +372 433 3968
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5 based on 10 reviews

Kondas Center

Kondas Center primarily focuses on naive and "outsider" art. The museum was opened in 2003 in a late 19th century rectory building. We have a permanent exhibition of Estonia's most famous naive painter Paul Kondas - who lived in Viljandi most of his life. Kondas' most well-known painting is "Strawberry Eaters", hence one may find large concrete strawberries allover the streets of Viljandi. We do some 30 temporary Exhibitions yearly, half of them are by self-taught artists and the other half by professional artists.

Reviewed By AdventurePhiles - Dallas, Texas

This a charming small museum, possibly the most engaging of its kind in Estonia. The collection is housed in a vintage brick building on Pikk Street, at the former vicarage of the nearby bell-playing St. John's Church, between the city center and the castle ruins. It features the paintings of the Estonian artist and teacher, Paul Kondas, who has been recognized internationally for his work in the naive style.
Kondas' life from 1900 to 1985 spanned the disruptive history of Estonian occupation by Russia and independence movements, as well as WW2 and all the modernist twists in art. His work, by turns, does too: it celebrates Estonian life and culture; digs surrealistically into nightmares, dreams and sexuality; condemns Soviet repression and the horrors of wartime - all in the colorful folk styles of the naive style. Many of his pieces are double-sided, with two very different works on related themes. Be sure to ask the staff to flip them around for you. The woman who helped us also gave us a very knowledgeable guided tour; her enthusiasm and excitement about all the art made the visit more special.
The ambitious museum also encourages other artists to create work for special exhibits here or hosts retrospectives. During our visit, two Exhibitions were specifically made for showing at the museum. One room featured a series of meditations by England's John Digby on the moon and Chinese lunar poetry. Another was an op-art painting extravaganza by animation artist Mati Kutt. Another room looked back over 30 years of figurative work by the surrealistic provocateur Raul Rajangu.

6. St. John's Church

Pikk 6, Viljandi 71003, Estonia +372 433 3000
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4 based on 14 reviews

St. John's Church

The church devoted to John the Baptist was erected in the 17thC upon the ruins of a Franciscan abbey. The church was destroyed several times in various wars and then invariably rebuilt. Still functioning after the Second World War, it was closed in 1950 and turned into a warehouse.It was consecrated again in 1992 and is now often used as a concert venue. Interesting to know:*This place of worship contains the communion table by Aivar Oja and stained-glass windows by Renee Aua.*Wall carpets have been made by the local textile artist Prof. Anu Raud, whose work "Mother Tree” is displayed in the UN's main building in New York.

Reviewed By SurreyGirl27 - Staines, United Kingdom

Reported to be the oldest surviving church in Estonia on the site of a former abbey and close to the ruins of Viljandi Order Castle. The church was destroyed several times in the numerous conflicts and invasions and then repeatedly rebuilt. It has had many functions since the 2nd world war including an warehouse and concert hall. It has now returned to being a church with a beautiful communion table and stained glass windows. Accessed across a cute wooden bridge.

7. Museum of Viljandi

Johan Laidoneri plats 10, Viljandi 71020, Estonia +372 433 3316
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4 based on 10 reviews

Museum of Viljandi

Museum of Viljandi is located in an old pharmacy with an exhibition on two floors presenting the history of Viljandi up to the middle of 20th century. There are many stuffed animals and birds in the exhibition stand introducing nature. A varied collection of archaeological finds gives an overview of the prehistory. A model of the Viljandi Order Castle with items from that period represent the Middle Ages and a model of a threshing room together with an exhibition of national garments and jewelry introduces folk culture. There's also an overview of local life and events during the 19th and 20th century and you can also watch a film. Different Exhibitions are held in the room of temporary Exhibitions.

Reviewed By George K - Glencoe IL

The museum is quite small,but they have done a very nice job of portraying the history of Viljandi. When strolling in the old town, it is worth an hour's visit. I would suggest visiting the museum before touring the castle grounds. Having a bit of Viljandi history in mind will help you appreciate the castle.

8. Viljandi Pauluse Kirik

Kiriku 3, Viljandi 71012, Estonia +372 433 4369
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4.5 based on 6 reviews

Viljandi Pauluse Kirik

When the town of Viljandi started to grow in the middle of the 19th century the only church in town became too small for the people. The Viljandi estate owner baron Ungern-Stenberg gave the community a part of his estate as building ground for the church.Interesting to know:· The architect of the sanctuary that was consecrated in 1866 was Matthias von Holst.· During the construction of the building so called Tudor Gothic elements were used as they were fashionable at that time. · The author of the altar painting "Christ on the Cross" is Karl Christian Andreae.· Since 1866 a G. Knauf organ fills the church with music, the biggest still functional organ of its kind in Estonia.

Reviewed By Robert H - Sydney, Australia

You may not travel to Viljandi just to visit the church but when you are here it is worth a look. It is part of a great little square well off the track of the accidental tourist.

9. Estonian Traditional Music Centre

Tasuja puiestee 6, Viljandi 71011, Estonia +372 434 2070
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5 based on 3 reviews

Estonian Traditional Music Centre

This centre, which was completed next to the ruins of the old castle in Viljandi in 2008, is a contemporary concert hall and cultural centre. The first floor is home to two concert halls, one large and one small, Seating 407 and 80 people respectively. There is also a shop selling a wide range of traditional music CDs, books and instruments. In the basement, beneath majestic arches, musicians practise their art, the August Pulst music school holds classes and the traditional music archives operate.

Reviewed By NewYorkHildreth - New York

The center attracts young people from the village to learn and share not only music but traditional crafts, such as basket-making, the exhibition that I saw. The rooftop restaurant has good food and a picturesque view.

10. Monument to Johann Koler

Lossi, Viljandi, Estonia
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4 based on 5 reviews

Monument to Johann Koler

This monument was erected to mark the 150th anniversary of the birth of the founder of Estonian nationalist painting.Johann Koler was born in the parish of Suure-Jaani in Viljandi County.Did you know…?*Having studied painting at the Academy of Art, Koler went on to further studies in Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, France and Italy.*He was employed in the court of the Russian emperor as the drawing teacher of the tsar’s daughter. *He corresponded with forward-thinking Estonian intellectuals and took part in events as part of the nationalist movement.The monument was sculpted by Edgar Viies, having been designed by Rein Luup.

Reviewed By teeaed - Estonia

A nice monument to one of the greatest Estonian artists. A nice little area around it, on the way from the centre to the castle ruins or the lake.

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