The sandy beach of Narva-Jõesuu is 13 km long.
Many say that people who visit the border town of Narva and have never been in Russia may actually believe that they have accidentally crossed the border.
Narva’s two languages, two cultures and a varied history ensure an exciting journey, and although it’s all located in Estonia, you can see Russia with a naked eye in every weather.
Let’s be honest, at the first sight Narva is not a very attractive town, and one may be tempted to continue directly to Narva-Jõesuu, also known as the Nordic Riviera. But Narva has three buildings that make it one of the most prominent towns in Estonia.
The first is Kreenholm, which is not really a building, but an entire island of old factory buildings. This summer the mysterious island will finally open to visitors – every Sunday, until October 28, the Narva Museum will take visitors to a tour of the Krenholm Manufacturing Company, where the visitors are given an overview of the 160-year-old history of the textile manufacture in the middle of a impressive industrial architecture.
The walking tour along the closed territory of Kreenholm lasts 1.5 hours. The tour includes a visit of the old factory building, to give visitors an impression of the size of production in the large cotton spinning hall.
Another building that attracts people to Narva is even older – the Narva Castle.
The fortress at the Narva river forms a pair with the Ivangorod Fortress that sits on the other shore, but visiting even one side is impressive. In addition to its interesting exhibitions, the Narva Castle is very popular among locals also thanks to its excellent restaurant. Fans of history who do not want to spend the summer within the castle’s thick walls should visit the castle in August during the Narva Battle Festival which includes the re-enactment of the Great Northern War.
City’s young symbol
Narva’s third symbol is, unlike the Narva Castle, very young.
The Narva College building, created by architects Indrek Peil, Siiri Vallner and Katrin Koov, is probably Estonia’s most talked-about building, together with the Estonian National Museum in Tartu.
An intriguing “reverse” house, the front of which is an exact reflection of the stately stock exchange building which once stood on the town hall square, posed an intrigue to the architects with its location. The architects also had to find a way to interpret the history of this site in a new way.
“In order to make the idea more understandable, we also provided the facade of the college with an imprint of the façade of the stock exchange building,” said Vallner, explaining the story of the building.
Standing in front of the college, it feels as if the stock exchange building had leaned for a moment to the college wall and left its mark there.
The remarkable monolithic concrete facade offers more than meets the eye. The complex is divided into two interconnected buildings of similar size. The inner courtyard that changes into an outdoor cafe in the summer offers a spectacular sight during the rain by forming a waterfall, as well as a historic well discovered a result of archaeological excavations that was preserved in its original location.
The courtyard is accessible through forged gates decorated by metal butterfly wings. The gate that is 7.5 meters long and 4.5 meters high was inspired by the wing pattern of a butterfly known as Narva that lives in South America.
13 km of sandy beaches
Narva-Jõesuu has nothing in common with Narva except for its name and geographical proximity. Its main attractions are buildings with delicate wooden decorations, silence of the pine forest and greenery, spa pleasures and, naturally, a sandy beach.
The beautiful sandy beach is an amazing 13 kilometres long! Everything that remains towards inland, behind the pine forest, is there for enjoying the beach life. Immediately after the opening of the Baltic railway, Hungerburg’s fishing village – as Narva-Jõesuu was once known – became a popular summer holiday destination for the nobility of St. Petersburg and Moscow. In the Soviet era, the village with beautiful wooden villas may have become somewhat eclectic, but the beach is still the most beautiful in Estonia.
Many prominent residents of St. Petersburg, including painters Repin and Šiškin, writers Leskov, Mamin-Sibirjak and Severjanin, visited Narva-Jõesuu after it was connected by rail. It’s said that even the pine under which the famous artist Šiškin loved to paint, is still standing!
Today, the hedonic spa hotels may have pushed the cultural life to Narva, but there are several concerts and exhibitions held during the summer also in Narva-Jõesuu.
The town’s former name Hungerburg is very unfortunate. According to the legend, the name was given by German merchants who swam to shore after a shipwreck and were unable to find anything to eat. Today, of course, there are more places to dine than one can visit in a day or two.
The restaurant with the best cuisine and the most exciting menu is at the Noorus Spa Hotel. Without doubt, Noorus is also the best spa resort (noorusspahotel.com)
While there are not yet many small boutique hotels in the town, there are some exciting and well-furnished apartments available. So why not rent yourself an apartment and enjoy what spas and restaurants of large hotels have to offer – provided, of course, that you have some time left from beachwalks, swimming and breathing fresh air.
Krenholm Manufacturing Company in Narva
On the Narva River, just above the city, is a waterfall which was once the biggest in Europe. Today the terraces of the fall are mostly dry, except during floods. Between the terraces is the Kreenholm Island. In the nineteenth century, the famous Krenholm Manufacturing Company, which at that time was the largest factory in the Russian Empire, was built on the island. In 1913 the factory employed more than ten thousand people. The factory was surrounded by a complex which included a hospital, workers’ barracks, directors’ villas and a park. The red-brick buildings were built in English style.
Today, the area is still waiting for new ideas. While the island is only accessible to a guided tour, people can freely walk around in the area on the west bank of the Narva River, where a settlement of factory officials and workers was built in parallel to the factory buildings. The Kreenholm campus, built on the example of the more advanced British industrial estates, sought to create a model of an ideal society to fully satisfy the material and mental (including aesthetic) needs of all company employees and executives. There was a school and kindergarten, Lutheran and Russian Orthodox churches, a large hospital complex, shops, a detention building and a clubhouse. With such an infrastructure, Krenholm’s factory settlement formed a kind of a satellite city for Narva.
Joaorg, the district of workers of the Kreenholm Manufacturing Company became part of Narva centre in 1917. A lot of attention was paid on the architecture of buildings. The dominant architectural style was historicism that combined neo-traces of the Romanesque, Gothic and Renaissance. An exception was the hospital building that was in Art Nouveau style.
Excursions to the Krenholm Manufacturing Company are held every Sunday at 12 noon. Pre-registration is not required. The guide’s working language depends on the group, ie the tour can be in Estonian, Russian or English. Additional information: firstname.lastname@example.org