Originally built in the 13th century, it was converted into an Almshouse (a hospital and workhouse for the poor) in 1658. Today it is a hotel and restaurant, which might sound sad, but at least it means the place is very well looked after, unlike its sorry neighbour, the older Red Tower.
Lydia Koidula's father, Johann Voldemar Jannsen, wrote the words to the Estonian national anthem. His daughter went one step further, penning the first play in the Estonian language - a part of the Estonian National Awakening. Koidula lived until 1886, and they built a monument to her here in 1929, during Estonia's first brief flowering of independent democracy.
Curious note: The Estonian national anthem plays to the same music as the Finnish one.
This pink city gate is the last remnant of the Swedish built fortifications dating from the 17th century. It was originally named after the Swedish king, Carl Gustav, and the uncredited architect is believed to be Erik Dahlberg, the man responsible for similar gates in Riga and Narva.
Like it's older sister, St Elizabeth, the baroque church of St. Catherine was built at the behest of another Russian Empress, Catherine the Great. She visited Parnu early into her new reign, in 1764, and probably wanted to impress, so built a church even more impressive than Elizabeth's.
The Classical buildings that make up the town hall were originally the home of a rich local merchant, a man influential enough to host Alexander I when he visited the town. When the merchant died, the buildings fell into the hands of the authorities, finally being inaugurated as the city's town hall in 1839.
Parnu's oldest building, boasts the tourist literature. Unlike much of the rest of the town, this famous 15th century building is a shabby wreck. Tucked away down a dark alley filled with trash and drunks, it's almost been forgotten about. When I arrived at the Red Tower I was welcomed by two drunks, both almost as old as the tower itself. The woman had the shame of a huge black eye, and the man, presumably her husband, was attached to a stream of yellow vomit that poured from his mouth.
It was a prison tower in its day, so I guess it retains some of its old charm in that sense.
Parnu's old town is very small and quite a way from its famous beach. It's close to the bridge across the river, and where you will find all the best shopping. In fact it's where all the shops are - there's almost nothing at the beach. It's also the best place for eating and drinking. The busses all run from here, but the trains, all two of them a day, run from a station so far from Parnu it's almost in Latvia.
The old town is pretty, and the main streets are lined with buildings made from both brick and wood. The oldest remaining building is the Red Tower, part of the original medieval fortifications.
This is what everyone comes to Parnu for, well that and the parties. It's a small strand of golden sand facing south into the Baltic sea. It's built for tourists and the sand is so fine it feels like it might be shipped in from somewhere. There's plenty of activities and bars, and there's even a new promenade built in 2006. Early in June you can have the place to yourself, but after midsummer the place is usually packed as the town becomes "Estonia's Summer Capital".
The vermilion baroque church on Nikolai was named in honour of Empress Elizabeth of Russia, who funded its construction. These were early days in the Empress's life, and early days in Russia's rule over Estonia, so she was probably trying to influence the local's with largesse. The resulting church is considered one of the most impressive examples of baroque architecture in Estonia.
The best tour available is hiring a bike and exploring Parnu at leisure. Bikes can be hired from tourbicycles in summer at the corner of Supeluse and Ranna Blvd. They will bring the bike to your hotel.
Walking tours are available in summer. Every Saturday at 10am and starts from opposite Hotel Parnu during the months of June and November.
A typical 18th century craftsman's blockhouse with no basement and a general plan characteristic of the time. The front door of the town musician's house is richly decorated with lyres and plants. It was most probably made in the Brocks' workshop and dates from the end of 18th century. The house was renovated in 1976-1977.
There was a building on this site in the 13th century; however, the present looks date from 1658 when it was an almshouse. In 1816, it was sold to a merchant called Schmidt. The building was fully renovated and redesigned into a restaurant and hotel in 1999.
A typical baroque house built before 1694. It was reconstructed according to the principles of classicism in the 19th century. In 1985- 1987, the building was partially renovated and there is an office now.
The strictly classicist buildings were erected in 1797 as a dwelling for P. R. Harder, a merchant. The Russian Czar Alexander I stayed there during his visit to Pärnu in 1806.The Jugendstil extension with neo-gothic and neo-baroque traits at the corner was completed in 1911 for the Town Council (designed by W. Bockslaff).
Eliisabet's Church, inaugurated in 1750, is the most outstanding sacral building of the Baroque period in Estonia. The beautiful church in the centre of Pärnu invites you to step in and look around to see a pulpit in the Neo-Gothic style from the middle of the 19th century, the altar and the altarpiece “ Resurrection”.The church got its name from Russian Empress Jelizaveta thanks to whom the congregation got a Lutheran church. One of the best organs in Estonia is in Eliisabet's Church and the place is popular as a concert hall among music lovers.