Founded in 1251, Parnu was practically unknown until 1838, when a spa and mud-bath facility opened. Today, this small city only 70 mi/115 km south of Tallinn is Estonia's official summer (and party) capital and renowned for its warm weather. Try to visit in late August when it throws a big farewell party right on the beach.
Some of the port city's nicest features are the surrounding parks, the white-sand beaches and the richly decorated wooden houses. Parnu also has the Museum of New Art, and the Parnu Museum (local history and handicrafts), which includes a branch dedicated to the important Estonian poet, Lydia Koidula.
Take a look inside the Orthodox Ekaterina Church, which became the model for many churches in the Baltics and Belarus, and the Lutheran St. Elisabeth's Church. Although built during the same period, these two buildings reflect vastly different architectural styles and influences. Parnu also has Estonia's most modern concert house.
Kihnu, an island in the Gulf of Riga, is a nice excursion from Parnu. The island offers a secluded, quiet diversion. The island's women are known for making and wearing the traditional folk dress of their ancestors. Kihnu can be reached by ferry from Munalaid.
For more information about Parnu, visit http://www.parnu.ee.
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