October 28th, 2021
Hight's Sabbatical Pictures

Part 40: June 2008 - Saaremaa Pt I

Muhu is connected by a bridge to the large island of Saaremaa. One of our first stops was to see the Kaali meteorite crater. A meteorite fell there a long time ago, making an impressive impression on the landscape.

Paula and I at the Kaali crater. The water level changes with the season. Apparently a fortification was once built around the rim of the crater, but none of that remains.

The largest city on the island is the town of Kuresaare, which boasts a well-preserved medieval castle. It was raining when we visited the castle, but it the fortifications are mostly intact, including a large moat, which you can partly see here.

A picture of the approach to the *inner* keep, complete with functioning portcullis. Inside the keep is an amazing museum of the history of the island.

Two campaigns were fought on the island during the second world war, both of which are well-chronicled in the museum. Of interest to me is how blunt the now-free Estonians are about their recent history vis-a-vis the former Soviet Union. The display pictured above about life on the island after the war is indicative.

During our visit there was also a song-festival going on. Estonians love to sing (they even have a chorus-equivalent of 'American idol' on prime-time television - and I have to say they are pretty good). The national connection with singing is deepened by the fact that Estonia used song festivals as a platform to push for their re-independence from the Soviet Union. In fact, the revolution that brought about independence in 1991 is known as the 'Singing Revolution.' Unlike the other Baltic states, Estonia achieved its independence without bloodshed and with surprisingly little violence.

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