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Estonia- Traditional handicrafts, modern methods, innovative use of traditions

Saarema Island – Estonia – May 7-14 2012

The Estonia programme is based on the Island of Saaremaa off the west coast of Estonia. It focuses on how a predominantly rural country with rich traditions in crafts, music and folklore is supporting its unique heritage and preserving its own traditional skills. This exchange focuses on sustainable rural tourism, innovative heritage trails, production of local products and development of traditional craft skills. Our host and guide Maarika Toomel – director of Heritage Tours on the Island of Saaremaa – is warm, welcoming and enthusiastic with an acute sense of fun along with knowledge and pride in her culture, traditional crafts and natural heritage.

May 7- Monday

Arrival to Tallinn, transfer to hostel for overnight

May 8 – Tuesday

08:00 Breakfast

09:00 Drive to Virtsu Harbour, 2 hours

11:00 Ferry to Muhu island

11:45 – 15:00 Embroidery in Muhu– old patterns in modern handicraft. The Muhu women are renowned for their incredible needlework skills which developed as they competed amongst themselves to produce gorgeous domestic textiles” To make one’s clothing as fine as the finest garment of one’s home village and even a little bit better.” Designs and Patterns from Muhu Island-

A Needlework tradition from Estonia.”

14:00 Lunch in Muhu

15:30 – 17:30 Horse tourism farm and natural heritage ( Tihuse Horse Farm)

Tihuse horse-riding and tourism farm is situated in the village of Hellamaa on the Island of Muhu. In addition to accommodation and horse-riding, farmer Martin Kivisoo offers other services, including cart rides around the island, massages and the use of a sauna. There are ten riding trails on the island as well as a heritage culture study trail on which you can learn about old customs and traditions.

18:00 Hellamaa community kitchen

A community facility developed to enable people to cook preserves and local products to sell.

20:00 Dinner in Hellamaa, meet with locals

Overnight in tourist farm, twins/triples. BB

May 9 – Wednesday

08:30 Breakfast

09:00 – 12:30 Muhu uisk – building of traditional boat , community works. A traditional boat which could carry 40 people and 30 oxen or 6 horses with carts. The Uisk became a very important means of transport and communication between different regions of the Western Estonia and travelled as far as northern Germany.

In 2009 marine organisation Väinamere Uisk was founded to re-build the ancient uisk-type sailing vessel and expose the local sea traditions of Estonian islands to a wider audience.

Visit Koguva village museum.

The best-preserved village buildings in Estonia. A unique milieu is created by the village streets with stone fences, log houses with cane roofs, old trees and draw wells with poles. The oldest building in Koguva, the barn of the Andruse Farm is situated in the centre of the village. The only tool used in building the barn was an axe.

13:00 Lunch

14:00 Visit to Koplimäe farm – buckwheat fields, windmill, buckwheat cookies, ecological buckwheat flour, spelt flour. Here organic grains are grown for pastas, breads and coffees.

This farm is diversifying and experimenting to produce new products.

16:00 Visit to Kuressaare Epsicopal Castle (optional)

18:00 Visit community shop

20:00 Dinner and overnight in farm

May 10 – Thursday


10:00 Visit to local Lymanda school – teaching about home island and heritage, unique workbook for the school

11:00 Folklore programme by children

Lunch in school made of local products

15:00 Afternoon visit to ancient farm, turned to tourist farm – old methods of building houses, roofs, cooking and smoking fish on the Tagamõisa peninsula, West-Saaremaa.

Opportunity to experience the Estonian smoke sauna tradition.


Overnight in farm

May 11 – Friday

Visit to wooden handcraft company Sakadak run by handicapped people. Memory sticks made of juniper.

Hands on wood workshop. Lunch

Workshop: baking pannileib – Saaremaa speciality – in Loona manor

Tasting pannileib and black bread with herbal teas.( If we are lucky, we will pick fresh herbs for tea)

Afternoon – Miku Forest park – old forest practices. “Miku Forest Park on Saaremaa island, near the Vilsandi National Park, Estonia, is open for everyone all year round. Here you will about our nature, what and how did old Estonians get from forest and also how they used wood. Even more – you can try old forest practices yourself.”

Dinner made in open fire in summer kitchen.

Overnight in farm

May 12 – Saturday


Visit wooded meadow and woodland pasture, sheep, cattle farming: work and discussion.


Building stone wall (dyking) – workshop



May – 13 Sunday

Mustjala mustard – new product

Visit Angla Heritage Center workshops, windmills.

Vilido windmill was reconsturcted in 2009 and is now producing stone ground flour. There is an exhibition of local history and agriculture and workshops are avialable where visitors can learn traditional skills in woodcrafts, felting, pottery,wool, leather and stone.

Ferry to mainland

Drive to Tallinn

Visit shops selling local products. Walking tour in Old Tallin Farewell dinner in Old Town.

May 14 – Monday

OPTIONAL depending on flights

Visit to open air museum- using heritage in tailoring new tourism services and products

Lunch in Kolu tavern

Transfer to the airport.

1 comment to Estonia- Traditional handicrafts, modern methods, innovative use of traditions

  • Is there a program later in the year for an exchange to somewhere that had weaving as its traditional craft? I applied last year and my application was missed, I was told I would be contacted this year but haven’t and can’t find if the same program is running?

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