Maritime history

The sea and the seaways have shaped and created what Saaremaa is today. The sea has allowed to be connected to further-off lands, to learn what was happening in the world and to adopt some of it.

The maritime history is truly long, going back to the Viking age. The excavations in Salme village in 2008-2010 changed the understanding in the maritime history of Europe when two wrecks of Viking boats with the skeletons of 42 warriors, swords, knifes, spear heads, etc. from the 8th century were found. The wrecks are the most ancient ones ever found in Estonia and are exceptional finds on the European scale.

The merchant ships of Kuressaare that sailed to West-Europe in the 17th century were the biggest on the Baltic Sea. The famous seafarer and founder of Antarctic in 1821, admiral Fabian Gottlieb Benjamin von Bellingshausen was of Saaremaa origin.  

Good seafarers need good ships and who else could be more skilled shipbuilders than islanders. Strong and reliable ships have been built on the islands for centuries. About a thousand years ago, uisk-model boats were used to sail across the straits of Muhu, a copy of it was built and launched in 2013. Today, contemporary and durable wooden boats, fast-going luxury yachts, comfortable small craft and border-guard boats of aluminium are built in Saaremaa. In 2014, the small craft competence centre, accumulating the skills and knowledge of shipbuilding, was opened in Kuressaare College of the Tallinn University of Technology.