Laanemaa is the westernmost county of the Baltic nation of Estonia, and it includes several islands. Many people come to budget hotels in Laanemaa because it is a good jumping off point for excursions into nearby Matsalu National Park. Tourists also like to see the beautiful Estonian coast and countryside, and the quaint villages.
The main community in Laanemaa is Haapsalu. This seaside resort town is known for its unusually warm seawater, its curative mud spas, and its peaceful, quiet atmosphere. Because of the dramatic combination of land and water, Haapsalu has been called the Venice of the North. This has been a resort town since the late 19th century. Members of the czar’s court used to vacation here, as did the great composer Tchaikovsky. The covered platform at the railway station is called Tchaikovsky Bench in his honor. The principal attraction is Haapsalu Castle, which dates back to the 13th century. Its walls were partially demolished on orders from Peter the Great of Russia. There is a museum in the castle’s west wing. St. Nicholas Cathedral, completed in 1260, is another major attraction here. It combines Romanesque and Gothic architectural styles. It has a Virgin and Child statue by Hille Palm, and a Mother’s Altar that honors Estonian mothers killed during the Soviet occupation. In August guests in discount hotels in Laanemaa can observe the cathedral’s White Lady Days music festival, which commemorates the alleged appearance of a White Lady on an inner wall of the church.
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