Saaremaa Museum is one of the oldest (founded in 1865) and biggest museums in Estonia and is visited by 70-80 thousand people every year. As a county museum it plays a major role in helping to preserve and strengthen the identity of Saaremaa as a region with extraordinary nature, history and culture. One of the main things that helps to shape this identity is Kuressaare Castle/Fortress – a one-of-a-kind architectural monument in the world and one of the most important tourist attractions in Estonia. The museum tries to exhibit the essence of the castle and tells its story to the whole world.
At the heart of the museum is an episcopal castle built during the 14th and 15th century which holds large permanent exhibitions of the nature of Saaremaa (in three halls) as well as of its earlier history (in three halls) and contemporary history (in seven halls). The episcopal castle also hosts various temporary exhibitions, concerts, plays, stylized bishop’s dinners and other events.
The fortress that surrounds the castle took shape between the 14th and the 19th century and is a singular open-air museum of military architecture where one can get acquainted with the development of fortifications over time.
During the summer period guests can visit a permanent exhibition dedicated to the communist terror of 1941 in the Gunpowder Cellar located in the south bastion of the fortress and a display of historical weapons and several art exhibitions in the Cannon Cellar located in the north bastion. Chambers of handicrafts with a historical touch await visitors in the four cellars of the west bastion and historical cannon position has been restored on the lower flank of the north bastion.