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Town and municipality
Haapsalu resort hall
Haapsalu resort hall
Flag of Haapsalu
Coat of arms of Haapsalu
Coat of arms
Haapsalu is located in Estonia
Location in Estonia
Country  Estonia
County Lääne County
Town rights 1279
 • Mayor Urmas Sukles[1] (Reform Party)
 • Total 10.59 km2 (4.09 sq mi)
Elevation 10 m (30 ft)
Population (2013)[2]
 • Total 10,251
 • Density 970/km2 (2,500/sq mi)
 • Estonians 81.9%
 • other (Finns, Swedes, Russians) 19%
Time zone EET (UTC+2)
 • Summer (DST) EEST (UTC+3)
Postal code 90503 to 90507
Area code(s) (+372) 047
Vehicle registration S

Haapsalu (Estonian pronunciation:  (German and Swedish: Hapsal; Finnish: Haapasalo; Russian: Хаапсалу, Гапсаль) is a seaside resort town located on the west coast of Estonia. It is the administrative centre of Lääne County, and on 1 January 2012 it had a population of 11,587.[2]


  • Description 1
  • History 2
  • Healing spas 3
  • Haapsalu shawl 4
  • Other attractions 5
  • International relations 6
    • Twin towns — Sister cities 6.1
  • Gallery 7
  • See also 8
  • References 9
  • External links 10


Haapsalu has been well known for centuries for its warm seawater, curative mud and peaceful atmosphere. Salt mud spas frequented by the Russian Romanov family still operate. Narrow streets with early 20th century wooden houses repeatedly lead to the sea. Haapsalu has been called the "Venice of the Baltics",[3] although this positioning has been criticized as exaggerating.[4] The name "Haapsalu" is from Estonian haab 'aspen' and salu 'grove.'[5]


Haapsalu castle

The town dates back to 1279, when it was chartered and became the centre of the Bishopric of Ösel-Wiek, which it remained for the next 300 years. Buildings from those early days remain today, including an episcopal castle which has the largest single-nave cathedral in the Baltic states, Haapsalu Castle.

Haapsalu and the surrounding area was the center for the Estonian Swedes from the 13th century until the evacuation of almost all ethnic Swedes from Estonia in 1944.

Healing spas

For many years, locals have claimed that the sea mud has a curative effect. A military doctor, Carl Abraham Hunnius, founded the first mud cure resort in 1825. News of the curative mud quickly reached the aristocracy of Saint Petersburg, the capital of the Russian Empire. Ever since then, Haapsalu has been a popular summer destination where people from all around the world come for medical treatment. Today, there are three mud cure establishments in Haapsalu varying in size and location.

Haapsalu shawl

In the 19th century, Haapsalu became famous for its shawls, a delicate craft made by local women.

Other attractions

The Land of Ilon Wikland (Wiklandia), a recreation centre for children, is set to open in a few years within the town. This world famous book illustrator has been involved with Haapsalu since her childhood.

The August Blues Festival is held every August in Haapsalu.

International relations

Twin towns — Sister cities

Haapsalu is twinned with:[6]


See also


  1. ^ "Linnavalitsuse liikmed". Haapsalu linn. Retrieved 15 October 2010. 
  2. ^ a b c "Population figure and composition".  
  3. ^ Dallen J. Timothy (18 May 2009). Cultural heritage and tourism in the developing world: a regional perspective. Taylor & Francis. pp. 239–.  
  4. ^ Derek R. Hall; Melanie K. Smith; Barbara Marciszewska (30 November 2006). Tourism in the new Europe: the challenges and opportunities of EU enlargement. CABI. pp. 264–.  
  5. ^ E.M. Pospelov, Geograficheskie nazvaniya mira (Moscow, 1998), p. 444.
  6. ^ "Sõpruslinnad" (in Estonian). Haapsalu. Retrieved 23 July 2011. 

External links

  • Official website
  • Town heraldry
  • Haapsalu castle
  • Haapsalu pictures and article
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