Kihnu Island

The islands of Kihnu and Manija are home to a unique indigenous culture that has thrived off the coast of Pärnu County for more that six centuries. 2003. The Kihnu cultural space, which in 2003 was included by UNESCO in the list of Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity, is fascinating for any visitor interested in learning about cultural heritage, exploring unique natural environments, and meeting friendly people.

kihnu

Kihnu is the largest island in the Gulf of Riga and Estonia’s seventh largest island. The area of the island is 16.9 km², and it is 7 km long and up to 3.3 km wide. The closest point on the mainland, the cape of Lao on Tõstamaa Peninsula, is located at a distance of 10.2 km from Kihnu, while the nearest inhabited area, namely Manija Island, is located at a distance of 7.5 km.

There are four villages on Kihnu Island: Lemsi Village, Linaküla Village, Rootsiküla Village, and Sääre Village. Lemsi Village, located in the eastern part of the island, has a harbour which serves as the main connection between the mainland and the island during the navigation season. Linaküla, which is situated in the western part of the island, is home to a hospital, school, local history museum, church, and new community centre, which also houses the library and the rural municipality government. Sääre Village is located in the northern part of the island and contains a post office, several shops, and Kurase Centre. The airport is also located in the northern part of the island. Rootsiküla, in the southern part of Kihnu, is home to a memorial stone dedicated to the legendary seafarer Kihnu Jõnn, the island’s weather station, and its lighthouse. 

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  • Culture
    • Kihnu Island was first mentioned in writing as Kyne in 1386 and it was referred to as an inhabited island in 1518. Historical evidence indicates that fishermen and seal hunters visited Kihnu as far back as 3,000 years ago.
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    • Kihnu has been an island of seafarers, fishermen and seal hunters since ancient times. Over the years, the men of Kihnu have spent much of their time at sea and have left the women in charge of the island’s affairs. As a result, Kihnu women have become the guardians and cultivators of the island’s cultural traditions, such as handicrafts, dances, games, and music. Self-made Kihnu folk costume skirts, called "kört" in the local dialect, are still used as an item of everyday clothing.
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    • Author: Mark Soosaar
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    • The rules that govern the lives of those living in Kihnu are changing with the times and people, but many still follow the wisdom handed down by their ancestors. The most ancient and unchanged traditions include the ceremonies related to marriage, including the three-day wedding celebration, but also many other traditions and rituals that are followed on Midsummer Day, St. Martin's Day, St. Catherine's Day, and other holidays that are considered important in the folk calendar. This means that the island is an especially interesting place to visit during celebrations arising from the folk or church calendar.
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    • Due to the island’s seclusion, its culture and traditions that date back centuries remain viable to this day. The recognition of the Kihnu cultural space as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO is a great source of pride and obliges the island dwellers to take special care of their ancient customs.
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    • Author: Mark Soosaar
  • Sights
    • The old church (which is actually a chapel) was located on a sandbank at the northern extremity of the island. According to legend, the church was destroyed in a fire (between 1700 and 1710) during the Great Northern War. The hill where the old church stood has also revealed a burial ground (a so-called underground cemetery) used when the church still stood. The Lutheran church reached Kihnu Island in about 1530, when the land was under Swedish rule. A new chapel was built in the middle of the island, at approximately the site where the current church stands. A subordinate church was established at the same location in 1624.
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    • As a result of the religious conversion movement that began in the 1840s, the inhabitants of Kihnu converted to Russian Orthodox en masse. In accordance with the proclamation of the tsar, the stone church building was handed over to the Orthodox congregation and the building was fitted with an onion-shaped cupola. The fence and gate made of coloured brick were built at the beginning of this century.
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    • The people of Kihnu consider the cemetery to be as holy a site as the church. They visit it in silence, and never go after sunset, so as not to disturb the dead. The cemetery used today contains crosses erected for people who died at the end of the 19th century. After his remains were brought from Denmark to Kihnu in 1992, the famous captain Enn Uuetoa, also known as Kihnu Jõnn, was buried near the main gate of the cemetery. The person resting next to him is Karl Jerkwelt – the carpenter from Saaremaa, who built Jõnn’s last ship named Rock-City. The memorial stone erected in honour of Kihnu Jõnn stands in Rootsiküla and marks the captain’s birthplace.
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    • The Kihnu Museum was opened in 1974 in an old schoolhouse. The exhibitions are displayed in four rooms. The works of local naïve artists are displayed on one side of the house along with an exhibit that introduces visitors to the famous men of Kihnu Island, including local historian Theodor Saar, self-made captain Enn Uuetoa, and silversmith Peeter Rooslaid. The other side of the house contains exhibits related to local daily life, such as tools, clothing, handwork, and furniture. The museum’s collection includes more than 700 items.
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    • The first information regarding a school on Kihnu Island dates back to 1777. The construction of the current schoolhouse was finished in 1972 and the building underwent a general overhaul in 1998, resulting in its current appearance. The school has 69 pupils and employs 8 teachers. In addition to the national curriculum, the school also teaches the local dialect and the girls learn the basics of Kihnu folk handicrafts. As a sign of respect and acknowledgement, the 2009 Estonian National Language Award was given to the individuals responsible for the publication of the Kihnu "Aabets" (reading primer). The book links the Kihnu dialect and local sayings with daily life on the island, helps retain the phraseology inherited from previous generations, and is a remarkable example of how the people of Kihnu preserve and value the distinct cultural and linguistic features characteristic of the island’s population.
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    • Author: Urmas Luik
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    • Kihnu lighthouse, located on Pitkänä Cape at the southern extremity of the island, was assembled in 1864 from parts made in England. The local inhabitants call the lighthouse a “puak” and the lighthouse keepers (“puagivahid”) have traditionally been Russians. The height of the lighthouse measured from the sea level and the ground is 31 metres and 29 metres, respectively.
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    • Author: Mark Soosaar
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    • In addition to the Sangelaiud islets (ten islets near the north-western coast of the main island), two erratic boulders on Kihnu Island have been included in the list of objects under nature conservation: Kassikivi (or Kihnu Kassikivi), which has a circumference of 4.5 metres, and the Liiva-aa Suur Kivi (or Kihnu Liivaaia Kivi), which has a circumference of 12 metres.
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    • There are also four ancient trees that are under nature conservation, including an old oak on the lands of Koksi Farm, which has a height of 26 metres and a circumference of 3.1 metres. The other trees are three lindens located near where the local manor house used to stand. The lindens have circumferences of 3.2, 2.5 and 2.3 metres and range between 16 and 17 metres in height.
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    • Kihnu is a small island that is best explored by bicycle – a mode of transportation that allows the visitor to enjoy the calmness and silence of the surroundings when riding on forest paths while providing a faster way of covering ground compared to walking. The museum, the cemetery, and the Orthodox church are located close to each other in Linaküla, while the lighthouse and the memorial stone dedicated to Kihnu Jõnn are located further in the south. If you do not have your own bicycle or do not want to bring it with you, you can rent one on the spot. Bicycle rental services are provided by the accommodation establishments. Tourists can also go on guided tours, go for a drive around the island in a car, visit folk concerts, and go sailing or fishing in lappaja-type fishing boats.
  • Manija
    • Manija is like a little brother to Kihnu Island and its inhabitants are part of the same ethnic group as the population of Kihnu. For centuries, this small and rocky island was used as a pasture by the manor owners on the mainland, and as a stopover by fishermen. In 1933, when Kihnu Island was determined to be too small for its population, 22 families moved from Kihnu to Manija. As a result, there are very strong cultural connections between the two islands. Currently, the island has less than 40 inhabitants and several households are used as summer homes.
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    • A ridge of erratic rocks stretches across the entire island and the only road of the island runs on top of it. The largest erratic boulder in all of Pärnu County, Manija Kokkõkivi, also stands next to the road in the middle of the island. At the south-western edge of the island, right on the shoreline, an eight-metre lighthouse built in 1933 defies the winds. In 2008, the Manija Island Centre was opened at Vaigu Farm, which also hosts the local library and the museum room.
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    • You can walk from one end of the small, five-kilometre-long island to the other in just a few hours, which means that making such a trip should not take you more than a day. Since Manija is only half a kilometre wide at its widest spot, you can see the entire island from the road. However, Manija also offers quiet opportunities for resting in nature and visitors can stay at the cosy Riida agritourism farm (www.parnumaa.ee/riida).
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  • Additional sources of information
  • Accommodation on Kihnu Island
    • Kaalu Guesthouse
    • 2 rooms (4-6 people)
    • Lemsi village
    • +372 51 44 610
    • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 
    • www.kihnumajutus.ee 
    • Kastani Guesthouse
    • 6 rooms (12 people)
    • Linaküla village
    • +372 56 500 524
    • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 
    • www.kastanimajutus.com 
    • Kuraga Bed and Breakfast
    • 2 rooms (5 people)
    • Rootsiküla village
    • +372 52 914 92
    • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
    • www.kuraga.eu
    • Linaküla campsite
    • 20 capmpings (43 people)
    • Kihnurand AS
    • +372 52 55 172
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    • www.kihnurand.ee
    • Niine Guesthouse
      (16 people)
    • Linaküla village
    • +372 525 1754
    • +372 446 9755
    • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
    • www.rannatee.ee/niine-majutus 
    • Pihlaka Bed & Breakfast
    • 3 houses (12 people)
    • Linaküla village
    • +372 52 88 258
    • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 
    • www.pihlakamajutus.ee 
    • Rock City Guesthouse
    • (52 people)
    • Sääre village
    • +372 44 69 956
    • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
    • www.rockcity.ee
    • Rootsiküla Guesthouse
    • (8 people)
    • Rootsiküla village
    • +372 525 5172
    • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
    • www.kihnurand.ee
    • Ruudu Guest apartments
    • +372 514 4610
    • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
    • www.kihnumajutus.ee
    • Sadama  lodging
    • 7 rooms (16 people)
    • Linaküla village
    • +372 51 37 099
    • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 
    • Tolli Tourism Farm
    • (40 people)
    • Sääre village
    • + 372 52 77 380
    • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
    • www.kihnutalu.ee
  • Dining on Kihnu Island 
    • Kihnu Küek
    • Linaküla village
    • +372 5341 2358
    • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
    • www.kihnukyek.ee
    • Kurase cafe
    • Sääre village
    • +372 52 55 172
    • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
    • www.kihnurand.ee
    • Linaküla campsite
    • Open-air dining room
    • Linaküla village
    • +372 52 55 172
    • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 
    • www.kihnurand.ee
    • Merike Mätas FIE
    • +372 5353 3452
    • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
    • Pihlaka Bed & Breakfast
    • Linaküla village
    • +372 5288 258
    • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
    • www.pihlakamajutus.ee
    • Rannametsa farm kitchen
    • +372 513 7099
    • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
    • www.puhkakihnus.ee
    • Rock City Guesthouse pub
    • Sääre village
    • +372 44 69 956
    • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 
    • www.rockcity.ee 
  • How can I reach the islands of Kihnu and Manija from Pärnu?
    • From the beginning of spring until the onset of the autumn storms, Kihnu Island can be reached by boat from either Pärnu Harbour or Munalaiu Harbour (located 50 km from Pärnu). The boat trip takes 2.5 hours from Pärnu and 1 hour from Munalaiu. The timetables and boat ticket prices are available at the Kihnu Veeteed website: www.veeteed.com. You can also get on the boat with your car.
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    • In winter, visitors can reach Kihnu by plane. The flight schedule and ticket information is available on the website www.parnu-airport.ee. Pärnu Airport can be reached by bus no. 23 (www.bussipark.ee). Information is available and tickets can be booked through Kihnu Airport (in both directions) every day between 8.00 AM and 3.00 PM. Telephone number 44 69 946, +372 50 333 15. Please note that passengers must be present at the airport at least 30 minutes before the departure of the flight.
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    • Manija Island can be reached by the liner Manija Mann, which departs from Munalaiu Harbour. For more information, look under the heading Transport on www.tostamaa.ee. Kihnu Veeteed also organises ferry transport to and from the island (see www.veeteed.com). Additional information is available by calling +372 443 1069.

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