Pärnu (129 km, pop 45 000) is known above all as a summer resort and holiday centre, thanks to its splendid sandy beach and bay. The beach area, separated from the sea by a big park, has several well-known rehabilitation institutions (water and mud bath unit, 1926–27, by O Siinmaa, E Wolffeldt, A Nürnberg; the Estonia, Sõprus, Tervis and Viiking sanatoriums) and hotels. The best known of them is Rannahotell (Beach Hotel, 1935–37, by A Soans, O Siinmaa), where the President of the Republic had a suite before WW II, and which has been restored today.
Although Pärnu was founded already in the 13th century, the oldest built monuments go back to the end of the Hanseatic period in the 16th century (the White Tower).
The baroque Tallinn Gate (1675–86) and several bastions remind us of the belt of earthen embankments laid out in the late 17th and early 18th century. There is an atmospheric park beside the former moat.
A number of baroque buildings from the end of the 17th and 18th centuries, as well as St Eliza-beth’s (1744–68) and the Orthodox Yelizaveta Church (1764–68), both good examples of baroque style, survive in the centre. Racy Art Nouveau (Ammende’s Villa, 1905, renovated 1999) and laconic functionalism (Rannakohvik – Beach Café, 1938, a schoolhouse at No 13, Kooli St, 1938–40, both by O Siinmaa) are also represented. The Pärnu River that falls into the bay adds attraction to the city as well.
Water and mud bath