Introducing Estonia – Ida-Viru County

One of the best ways to get to know one another and build trust and confidence as we advance is to come together in a social setting outside the office. As a tradition, the August part of the Faculty Development Programme ended with a trip to Ida-Viru County, the country's most north-eastern part. The county contains large deposits of oil shale - the main mineral mined in Estonia. Oil shale is used in the production of shale oil and thermal power plants.

The programme started with a visit to Kreenholm Manufacturing Company in Narva, which was the largest textile factory in Europe for decades. Although the building is not operating anymore, its industrial architecture still fascinates and you could imagine the company's glory days.

Narva has a lot to offer. Narva Alexander Church, a part of the Kreenholm complex, can be described as immense, octagonal, Lutheran. The damage was enormous during World War II, but it has since been refurbished and functioning again. The church offered an outstanding video installation about its history and progress.

In the evening, we took a beautiful walk in Narva River Promenade. It is situated on the riverbank in the historical heart of Narva. In the east, it borders with the Narva River; in the west, with bastion walls and the Hermann castle; in the north, with Narva harbour; finally, in the south, with Joaorg recreational area. The promenade is in the immediate vicinity of the border between Estonia/the European Union and the Russian Federation.

The second day started with a ‘sports activity’. The Narva Castle and its stairs were quite a challenge, but we managed well. Over 700 years old castle is the most diverse and best-preserved defence structure in entire Estonia. Inside the castle, we had an opportunity to visit the museum and learn about the history of this main attraction of the city.

The next stop was Casemates of Victoria Bastion, which can be safely called the winner of time. In the course of its 300-year-long history, it stood the test of time during numerous wars, served the rulers of several different states in different times, and won and lost with dignity along with great rulers. At the beginning of the 21st century, it once again became the winner after its complete restoration. It turned into one of the main tourist attractions in the area, luring everyone who wants to hear exciting stories and feel the full power and might of the bastion. Inside the casemates, you could meet Bastions residents, and if you are lucky enough, you will see bats as well.

After lunch and some free time in an impressive Sillamäe Promenade, we headed to Kohtla-Nõmme Mining Park. It included an excursion to an underground mine consisting of former mining passages with a total length of 1 kilometre. We rode a real underground mining train and followed the footsteps of real miners. It gave a real feeling of miners' daily working life in fresh but dark mining passages.

The BALTDEFCOL team and their family members confirmed that Ida-Viru county is a beautiful place with a unique history and is worth visiting more than once.

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