Narva-Jõesuu is located in East Estonia, and is probably the oldest resort town in the country, with first resorts dating back to the 18th century. It used to be a popular travel destination for the elite of Imperial Russia, mostly from the nearby St. Petersburg – scientists, musicians, politicians and writers alike were very fond of this little seaside town near the western boarder of the empire with almost 15 000 summer residences being built in that period. After the October Revolution in Russia and gaining of independence in Estonia, the stream of holidaymakers from the east dried up, and Narva-Jõesuu became mostly a resort for the Estonian intelligence. A bit later, in World War II, Narva-Jõesuu was almost completely destroyed and first new holiday resorts were not opened before 1961. Nowadays the Estonian East is still appreciated as a place for a quiet holiday, yet it is rapidly gaining popularity among thrillseekers – the region’s rich shale oil deposits have fuelled a thriving mining industry, with some of the retired mines being repurposed with infrastructure for extreme sports. And of course, it is still a popular stopping point for those travelling to and from St. Petersburg.
Narva is a melting pot of Estonian and Russian cultures. It has been a border town for a long time, evident from the two castles facing each other over the Narva river, now carrying flags of their respective countries. The river has separated different worlds since the Middle Ages, yet has also been a point of cultural interaction and interpenetration. It is still a popular place for spending free time and the kilometer-long promenade among the river is often bustling with tourists and locals alike. The numerous bastions of Narva – with the most popular and notable being the Victoria bastion with its casemates and gunpowder storehouse – are also telling a story of a turbulent past where fortifications were a must. Originally constructed (all but one of them) in the 17th century by the Swedes, the bastions have seen different times and regimes, wars and troubles. Yet, they’re still there. That’s why they’re often called the only winners through time. The bastions are now being renovated one by one, to conserve a part of long-gone history. Narva used to boast a magnificent baroque old town and that was not left unnoted in Europe. However, in World War II, it was completely demolished, as was Narva-Jõesuu. It was rebuilt in Soviet architectural style which, with a few exclusions, has remained prevalent until today. Miraculously, in spite of many reconstructions and wars over the centuries, Narva has preserved its’ medieval appearance, providing unique sights found nowhere else.