Viljandi is an ancient hilly city in South Estonia topped by impressive ruins of a once-powerful Livonian Order castle. Cobbled streets, ancient oak trees and a beautiful lake conjure up a very special atmosphere.
A visit to Viljandi means greenery, ancient trees, impressive hilltop ruins of a powerful Hanseatic castle, winding cobbled streets and a beautiful lake.
Evidence of civilization around Viljandi dates back to 500 B.C. and the first written record of a “Viljandi stronghold” was in 1154 in the commentaries to al-Idrisi’s world atlas “Geography.”
Hanseatic merchants settled in Viljandi in the 14th century – their spirit can still be felt in Viljandi every June. People trade at a fair, dress the way people did in that area, organise exhibitions and party.
For many people Viljandi conjures up images of the Viljandi Folk Music Festival and Viljandi Culture Academy. This small city is the “capital of folk music” for most Estonians. The Viljandi Folk festival runs for 4 days on the last weekend in July. More than 100 concerts take place in Viljandi castle’s ruins, churches, and other venues throughout Viljandi County. It is the largest annual music festival in Estonia
Viljandi not only appeals to folk music and culture lovers but also to people who enjoy parks, where you can hear the nightingale sing, beautiful views and an atmosphere which is both ancient and modern at the same time.
Viljandi hosts many events and several international festivals throughout the year. The Early Music Festival, Hanseatic Days, Young Dance Festival, Mulgi Rally, Winter Folk Dance Festival, the “Theatre in Suitcase” puppet theatre festival etc. Since 1928, a run around Lake Viljandi has taken place on the first day of May every year.
Tennis courts, cafes, playgrounds, a diving tower, boat rental and catamaran trips are available at the lake. Visit Viljandi for exhibitions and performances or simply walk the winding roads and sense the ancient history and mood of the town.
Nearby attractions include Olustvere Manor and Soomaa National Park.