Haapsalu is well-known for centuries for its warm sea water, curative mud and peaceful atmosphere. Narrow streets with early XXth century wooden houses bring you to the sea again and again. Haapsalu has been called the Nordic Venice for this plentitude of water.
The history of Haapsalu dates back to 1279, when it was chartered and became the centre of Saare-Lääne Bishopric for the next 300 years. Those early days remain today with the Episcopal castle with the biggest single-nave cathedral in the Baltic states.
The curative effect of the sea mud had been known by locals for a long time before a military doctor, Carl Abraham Hunnius, founded the first mud cure resort in 1825. News of the curative mud quickly reached the aristocracy of St. Petersburg. Ever since then, Haapsalu has been a popular summer paradise where people from all around the world can get the medical treatment they need. Today, there are three mud cure establishments in Haapsalu - all different by size and location, so anyone can find the one most suitable to them.
In the 19th century, Haapsalu became famous for its shawls - a delicate handicraft made by local women. The Land of Ilon Wikland (Wiklandia), a recreation centre for children is set to open this year. This world famous book illustrator has been involved with Haapsalu since her childhood. It is going to take some years to complete the project, but there is no doubt it will be a success.