Four historical tourist attractions to receive a freshened-up look this year 23.03

Within the framework of the Finnish-Estonian cooperation project Lights On, reconstruction works are being carried out in the Lõhavere, Neeruti and Varbola fortresses, and the Keila-Joa manor park, to cast new light on these sites, develop local tourism and entrepreneurship, and contribute to the sustainable use of the sites.
Launched in 2015, the project Lights On! aims to create a joint Estonian-Finnish network of historically valuable tourism sites, cast light on the history of the north-eastern part of the Baltic Sea, and provide a broader introduction to remarkable, yet lesser known sites. The project covers eight sightseeing sites of outstanding natural beauty and historical value: in Estonia – Keila-Joa park, Lõhavere stronghold, Neeruti stronghold, Varbola rural fort; in Finland – Kuusisto castle ruins, Rapola stronghold, Raseborg castle ruins and Vallisaari fortress. Within the framework of the project, the experiences of visitors will be enhanced, marketing methods will be developed and new tourism products and services will be planned in cooperation with local entrepreneurs.

The responsible partner for the project is Metsähallitus Parks & Wildlife Finland), other partners include the Humak University of Applied Sciences from Finland, the Estonian State Forest Management Centre (RMK), and University of Tartu’s Viljandi Cultural Academy.

To date, community-involving seminars and trips to project sites in Estonia and Finland have been organised by the University of Tartu Viljandi Cultural Academy, on the Estonian side, while RMK has prepared reconstruction projects for visitation sites in cooperation with local self-governments, the National Heritage Board and the Environmental Board, and has started building works. Furthermore, community-involving events have been organised on sites and joint activities have been prepared for the 2018 visitation season.

In October 2017, reconstruction works started on visitation infrastructure in the Neeruti stronghold. During the course of the works, stairs, bridges, parking pockets, toilets, signs, information stands, benches, and paths will be reconstructed, and an information cabin/field class will be built. The planned end date for works is May 2018. In addition, views of overgrown archaeological monuments have been cleared, and the last brush removal works will end in early April.

Reconstruction of visitation infrastructure also started in the Lõhavere stronghold in October 2017. Parking pockets, paths, stairs, signs and information stands will all be reconstructed. The planned end date for works is May 2018. Formative cutting has been carried out to open up views of archaeological monuments, old and dangerous trees were removed from slopes to protect the valuables in the surface layers of archaeological monuments. A mock-up of the historical stronghold is being planned in cooperation with archaeologist Ain Mäesalu and sculptor Tiiu Kirsipuu, with the plan being to place it next to the hill fort by autumn.
The reconstruction works of the Varbola rural fort are planned to be carried out from late spring to autumn 2018. It is planned to clear access points and pathways on the fortress bank, reconstruct signs and information panels, put up lighting on the bank and over a well in the courtyard. Simultaneously with reconstruction works, there will be formative cutting to open up views of overgrown archaeological monuments. Individual trees will be removed from the fortress bank to prevent deterioration of the limestone bank. Archaeologist Ülle Tamla has put together information materials on the site.

The reconstruction works on the visitation infrastructure located on the left bank of the historic Keila-Joa manor park are planned to be carried out from late spring to autumn 2018. The plans include the reconstruction of the sections and signs of the nature trail, building of a new information pavilion, clearing of the sightseeing area around the falls, placing of lighting over the falls and bridges, and the installing benches in the park.

Simultaneously with the reconstruction of the visitation infrastructure, formative cutting will be carried out to open the views of the English-style park. On 18 August, in cooperation with project partner UT Viljandi Cultural Academy and non-profit association Valgusfestival, a Light Festival will be held to shine a light on the renewed park.

Light will also be cast on all the project sites with a mobile game and a mobile guide, the prototypes of which will be completed in autumn 2018. Comic strips, detailing the history of the sites, related folklore and nature, will be drawn to be displayed on separate panels throughout the sites. In cooperation with the University of Tartu Viljandi Cultural Academy, local communities and entrepreneurs, events will be organised in 2018 to bring attention to the sites.

The project is being implemented in the period 2015–2018 and is being supported from the Central Baltic Programme 2014–2020, funded by the European Regional Development Fund. The total budget of the project partners is EUR 1,861,669, which covers eight projects.

Further information:
Marge Rammo
Head of RMK’s Visitor Management Department
+372 513-7035