Presentation of the destination
Kohtla-Järve is the name of a city as well as of a municipality in Estonia with a population of 37,201 inhabitants in the city. The city, incorporated in 1946 and founded before that in 1924, is located in northeastern Estonia. Kohtla-Järve developed as a city around its main mineral and industry- extracting oil shale. In 1924 an oil shale processing facility was constructed in the area and Kohtla-Järve began to grow. When Estonia was part of the Soviet Union, larger amounts of oil shale were needed for industries within the Soviet Union. After the fall of the USSR, many people left Kohtla-Järve because there were fewer jobs due to less demand by the Soviets for oil shale. Summers in Estonia are warm with highs reaching 23°C (73°F) and winters are cold with temperatures as low as -9°C (16°F). Estonia uses the Euro for its currency and its official language is Estonian.
Points of interests / things to see
The Kohtla-Järve Culture Center was originally built in 1952 during Joseph Stalin’s time as ruler of the Soviet Union. After the Culture Center was restored in 2013-14, it became one of the best kept samples of architecture from the Stalin era. The building is yellowish in color with white pillars out front and a balcony on the second floor. The Culture Center was built as a “gift” to the local people by the Soviet government. During the Soviet Union, miners and workers were seen as the most important members of society and to honor and thank them, the Soviets built a Culture Center for the use of the town’s people. Therefore the Culture Center stands as a testimony to Kohtla-Järve’s past as a center for mining oil shale and manual labor. The center is used as a space for various culture groups including musical groups such as orchestras and bands, dancing groups, drama groups and choirs. The building also boasts some very impressive chandeliers on the inside. Depending on the day and your luck, there may be someone around to give you a guided tour but if there isn’t, you can just wander around the building on your own. Address: Keskallee 38 Website: http://www.kjkk.ee/ Phone number: +372 33 66160
The Kohtla Mining Park is a complex that includes an underground museum explaining the process of oil shale mining as well as the history of mining in the Kohtla-Järve region. The tour of the museum is guided and attempts to give visitors as authentic of a mining experience as possible by requiring them to don helmets with miner lights before the tour begins. The tour takes visitors underground, up to 8 m (26 ft), and they can visit what was at one point a real part of the mine and see what it was like to have worked as a miner. Actually going underground into the mine better highlights the actual conditions of working in a mine- the darkness, moisture in the air and what the space was like. Part of the tour even includes a ride on an underground mining train. The tour visits various underground work sites, the explosives storage space and shows and explains the use of different equipment and technology related to mining. If the visitors want to enjoy a traditional miner lunch in a miner’s canteen, they can order a meal at the museum and eat it below ground just like the miners used to. Website: http://kaevanduspark.ee/eng/ Email address: email@example.com Phone number: (+372) 332 4017 Opening hours: Tuesday-Saturday 10:00-18:00 Entrance fees: Adult €10, Students €6
Narva is a city located 56km (34 mi) from Kohtla-Järve that used to be considered as the “Baroque pearl of the Baltic Sea” but unfortunately it doesn’t carry that title anymore since it was heavily destroyed by both Russians and Germans during World War II. Since majority of the city was damaged during the war, when Estonia became part of the Soviet Union, it had to be rebuilt and now majority of the buildings are examples of Soviet architecture. For the best example of Soviet architecture in the city, visit the Town Hall. Not only their architecture, but also Soviet social policies dramatically shaped the city. The Soviet government did not allow Narva’s residents who had been displaced by the war to return to their city so Narva became populated almost primarily by Russians and that can still be seen today as 90% of the city is Russian or of Russian descent. The biggest and most famous attraction in Estonia is the Hermann Fortress which stands on the banks of the River Narva and is the best preserved castle found within Estonia. Today the castle houses a museum explaining the daily life of people in antiquity and allows visitors to actually use tools from the 17th century. The castle also has concerts and festivals on its grounds during the summer months.
Rakvere is another city in Estonia near to Kohtla-Järve at a distance of about 60km (37 mi). The city of Rakvere, while small, has a variety of activities for visitors to enjoy. The most historical attraction is the castle ruins. These ruins were most likely from the second castle to stand on the site. The first one was only made of wood, and it was replaced after 1226 and the Livonian War. The ruins today are more than just stones on the ground though. There is a variety of activities happening at the castle such as an exhibit on medieval armor, displays of torture chambers from medieval times and visitors can engage in archery shooting and even sample various medieval foods. Rakvere also has the biggest statute of an animal in all of the Baltic counties. The statue is named Tarvas and is a giant statue of a bull made by the Estonian sculptor, Tauno Kangro. Rakvere hosts various festivals throughout the course of the year such as a rock music festival titled “Green Christmas” and a theater festival that happens every two years called the Baltoscandal. Rakvere also boasts Estonia’s most modern spa hotel, Aqua. The central square in Rakvere makes for a good stop to rest and look at all the objects on the square including statues, toy animals and a fountain.
Tartu is a city situated 138 km (86 mi) from Kohtla-Järve. Tartu is the second largest city in Estonia, only smaller than the capital Tallinn. Tartu is where Estonia’s oldest and most prestigious university stands, the University of Tartu. In addition to this important intellectual landmark, Tartu is also the home to Estonia's Supreme Court and the Ministry of Education and Research. All these factors together make Tartu the intellectual focal point of the country. The first settlement in the area was in the 5th century when a fortress by the name of Tarbatu was built in the area. Much of Tartu’s historical section was destroyed in World War II due to bombings by both the Germans and the Soviets. Tartu saw a large surge in population while Estonia was part of the Soviet Union, due primarily to migration to Tartu from other parts of the USSR. Of the buildings that have survived the test of time and the destruction of history, the most notable are the St. John’s Church (it was originally a Catholic church and today is Lutheran), the town hall and its square, various buildings of the University of Tartu, a botanical garden and ruins of a 13th century cathedral. Website: http://tartu.ee/?lang_id=2
The Sillamäe Museum of History and Culture is located in the town of Sillamäe, 30 km (17 mi) from Kohtla- Järve. Sillamäe the city used to be shut off to outsiders for many years because it had a uranium enrichment plant. Today the museum highlights life from the oil shale mining times. The museum’s collection is from what had been the private collection of the oil shale chemical factory. The museum has 6 different exhibition rooms. One focuses on life during the 1950s, another on life at the end of the 18th century, a third is about the life as a farmer in the region, one is dedicated to household items from the beginning of the 20th century, a gemstone exhibit and a mineral hall that explains where Estonia’s different rocks come from.
Located 138 km (86 mi) from Kohtla- Järve is the center of Estonia, Paide Town. Most likely due to its central location in the country, Paide was chosen by the Germans during their occupation centuries ago as the site to build their fortress. Part of the centuries-old fortress still stands today and the Paide Vallitorn, the tower pertaining to the fortress is open to the public. In the tower is the Time Centre Wittenstein which is a museum that gives visitors an opportunity to see what life was like through the centuries in Estonia. The name of Paide comes from the word for “limestone” in Estonian and the city contains numerous lime stone sculptures throughout its environs to recognize this connection with the stone.
Lahemaa National Park takes both the title of being Estonia’s first national park as well as its largest. Located 96km (60 mi) away from Kohtla-Järve, Lahemaa is situated on the northern coast of Estonia. The park has a wide array of natural formations including forests (pine, cliff and old-growth), bogs, seashores, and rivers. The landscape is also dotted with boulders that were carried over from Finland because of continental ice. At the time of its founding, Lahemaa was not only the first national park in Estonia, but also the whole Soviet Union. Most of the area along the coast has been disturbed very little by humans as it was a closed off zone during the Soviet times. There are several large mammals in the park including brown bear, lynxes, moose, boars, etc. There are also rare plants in the park that are only found in that part of the world.
Palmse Manor is located in Lahemaa National Park about 96 km (60 mi) from Kohtla-Järve. During the course of Estonia’s history, many centuries ago, the Germans occupied most of the territory and owned much of the land. Palmse Manor demonstrates their wealth as the manor has over 20 buildings on their estate. It was the possession of a German family from 1677 until 1923 and at that time it was taken by the state. Palmse Manor today has been restored and serves as the highlight of Lahemaa National Park with the visitor center located in the stables of the estate. The house serves as a museum to show pieces from the 1780s and there is also a restaurant, hotel and souvenir shop on the premises.
Vacation rentals in Kohtla-järve (Ida-Viru County)
How to get there ?
If traveling to Estonia by air, the largest international airport in Estonia is in the capital Tallinn (website: http://www.tallinn-airport.ee/eng). Flights connect Tallinn to most other countries in Europe. The national airline is Estonian Air and domestic flights exist between Tallinn and Tartu. Another option for getting into the country is by sea from either Helsinki, Finland or Stockholm, Sweden. Finland is closer and boats leave every few hours May to September and the journey takes less than 2 hours. Stockholm only offers one ferry per day, an overnight ferry, one going both directions. From Russia, it is possible to catch a train to Estonia on the line from Moscow to Tallinn. The only other option for train is from Riga, Latvia to the southern Estonian city of Valga. The best option for getting around Estonia is to use its roads, either by car or by bus. Buses run everywhere in the country and run frequently and cheaply. The country is small, with journey time form one end to the other being only about four hours. The Estonian bus system only allows the purchase of a one-way ticket. Buses are available for getting around cities as well as traveling to other cities. Train is an option when traveling between major destinations such as Tallinn, Tartu or Narva and stops at cities along those routes. The train system is run by Elron (website: http://elron.ee/en/).
Kohtla-järve city hall
Hotels in Kohtla-järve (Ida-Viru County)