Parishes and strongholds

The items of heritage from the times of long past can be found in Saaremaa yet today. Ancient strongholds are among the most interesting representatives of those.

Not many of the strongholds that sheltered and protected people in ancient times have survived in their original way. Still, the sites of a number of these strongholds are accessible and high ramparts evidence a large scale of the once fortifications.

The biggest of the strongholds, Lihulinn, is located right in the middle of Saaremaa. The only stronghold with some ruins of former buildings is in Maasi near Orissaare in the eastern part of Saaremaa. Valjala and Kaarma strongholds are among the most visited ones. Examining the fortified settlements of the Bronze and pre-Roman Iron ages in Estonia started at Asva settlement in the southern part of Saaremaa and therefore the period of history has got its name after this settlement.  

At the beginning of the 20th century, Saaremaa was divided into 12 parishes. Currently, their former borders can be traced by the brown location signs by the roadsides. The folk costumes with their distinguished patterns, still favoured and worn today, are also known by the names of their parishes of origin.