Pärnu, on the River Pärnu on the Gulf of Riga, is among Estonia’s most popular holiday resorts.
There is evidence of Stone Age human habitation in the area around Pärnu. It was first mentioned in written records in 1154 and by the middle of the next century it was an important trading village within the Hanseatic League. Livonian rule came to an end in 1561 after much bloodshed and destruction. Between 1562 and 1617 control of the city changed hands six times. In 1617 Swedish forces took control. In 1710 the plague-ridden town was ceded to Russia. The first rail connection in 1896 brought visitors to the beaches and mud baths and in 1925 the municipal authorities decided to develop the town as a modern resort.
Pärnu is a major port and remains a popular beach and convalescence resort. Other important industries include food processing, wood-working and leather tanning. Pärnu is known as Estonia’s ‘Summer Capital’ and is renowned for its nightlife.
Places of Interest
Sights include the medieval Red Tower, the baroque Elisabeth Church, and St. Catherine’s Russian Orthodox church. There are also a number of examples of art nouveau and neo-classical buildings.