Kuressaare, Saaremaa 2015 – Part 1

Kuressaare Episcopal Castle

Kuressaare Episcopal CastleKures­saare is the west­ern­most town in Esto­nia and the cap­i­tal of Saare Coun­ty. Anoth­er name for the town is Arens­burg which refers to the Kures­saare Epis­co­pal Cas­tle. This is a rel­a­tive­ly unknown name here in Fin­land, so I’ll stick with Kures­saare. I was there four days in 2015, but at that time I didn’t do any blog­ging. This means that I’ve nev­er writ­ten about the trip any­where or even edit­ed the pho­tos. I had a good time and came back with a lot of shots, so I’m going to sep­a­rate this sto­ry to two or even three posts.

Day 1 – From Turku to Kuressaare

Our trip began ear­ly in the morn­ing from the front of the Turku Ortho­dox Church, which is just beside the Turku Mar­ket Square. This was a bus trip, so we loaded our lug­gage on the bus and head­ed towards Helsin­ki. Noth­ing worth pho­tograph­ing hap­pened dur­ing this first leg of the trip, so I didn’t get my cam­era out until we board­ed the ship.

Helsinki West Harbour

Port of Helsin­ki – West Har­bour.

From the deck I pho­tographed the ever-chang­ing West Har­bour of Helsin­ki, the MS Euro­dam and the MS Ser­e­nade of the Seas. The sky had a pret­ty strong “The Simp­sons” vibe going on in cou­ple of the shots…

MS Eurodam

Hol­land Amer­i­ca Line’s MS Euro­dam.

MS Serenade of the Seas

MS Ser­e­nade of the Seas – Roy­al Caribbean Cruis­es.

After arriv­ing in Tallinn, we began the sec­ond leg of our trip towards the Virt­su Har­bour. The dri­ve was rather excit­ing main­ly due to the irre­spon­si­ble dri­ving style of oth­ers on the road. We saw sev­er­al ques­tion­able over­takes and a few out­right men­tal ones. Luck­i­ly noth­ing hap­pened, but I wouldn’t be sur­prised if some­thing does hap­pen on a dai­ly basis on that road.

Virtsu Harbour

Virt­su Har­bour.

At Virt­su Har­bour we took a bit of a breather (and some pho­tos) while wait­ing for the fer­ry. The old­er fer­ries were still in use in 2015 and took about 55 min­utes to reach Kuiv­as­tu port. Kuiv­as­tu is a vil­lage in Muhu, a small island, which is con­nect­ed to Saare­maa via a bridge. From there we con­tin­ued our dri­ve towards Kures­saare.

First peek at Kuressaare

We arrived at our spa hotel quite late in the evening and checked in. Almost imme­di­ate­ly we decid­ed to go out and see the town in the evening light. I ditched my 24–105 f/4 IS lens for the 70–200mm f/2.8 IS for the evening action because of the bet­ter image sta­bi­liza­tion and wider aper­ture.

The first thing I shot was the clock tow­er of the St. Lawrence’s Church since it was the neigh­bor­ing build­ing to our hotel. The oth­er thing I noticed right away is the num­ber of hand­made details on some of the build­ings.

Kuressaare jackdaws

Maybe the local jack­daws were also admir­ing the archi­tec­ture.

We made our way through the streets to the town square of Kures­saare. Here my lens of choice didn’t shine since 70mm isn’t wide enough to cap­ture a scene like a town square.

Kuressaare town square

A view from the town square.

Our des­ti­na­tion for the evening was the Kures­saare Epis­co­pal Cas­tle. That said, I couldn’t help myself from pho­tograph­ing the quirky and quaint archi­tec­ture along the way.

The small clock tow­er is on top of a design­er bou­tique. I don’t know the his­to­ry of the build­ing, but I’m guess­ing it hasn’t always been a bou­tique.  The wall paint­ing is on the exte­ri­or of the St Nicholas’ Ortho­dox Church.

Kuressaare Episcopal Castle

I was expect­ing a man to yell from the wall: “I fart in your gen­er­al direc­tion!”.

For some rea­son, I strug­gled with the cas­tle itself. It is impres­sive enough, but a hard place to pho­to­graph. Espe­cial­ly when we were there quite late and the cas­tle was closed for pub­lic. Also, the long jour­ney behind me and the fad­ing light prob­a­bly had some­thing to do with it.

Some can­nons shot with a Canon.

We cir­cled around the cas­tle and stopped to fol­low some peo­ple who were cast­ing met­al behind the cas­tle. After that the light was fad­ing fast, so we decid­ed to head back to our hotel.

St Nicholas’ Ortho­dox Church steeple catch­ing the last light of the day.

The St Nicholas’ Ortho­dox Church is in between the two roads we used to get to the cas­tle and back. It gave me anoth­er chance to pho­to­graph the church in a dif­fer­ent light. I had to take the shot when I saw the last light catch­ing the steeple and the ortho­dox cross.

Kuressaare seagulls

There’s a met­ric but­t­load of seag­ulls in Kures­saare, which is to be expect­ed.

Kures­saare is a port town locat­ed on an island, so yeah, it boasts an abun­dance of seag­ulls.

End of part 1 and the first day of the trip. More to fol­low soon.


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  1. Pingback: Saaremaa, Kuressaare 2015 - Part 2 - Janne Aavasalo - Japhoto

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