A Tale of Four Residents of Estonia's 'Culture Capital' of Tartu

Are you a student of history? A believer in dreaming big dreams? Let BCD introduce you to Estonia's 'Culture Capital' of Tartu, which offers a window into the art, architecture and daily of its residents from the days of artisans of Hanseatic League in the 13th century to the account of two contemporary artists who share their story of fulfilling a Communist-era dream.

A Tale of Four Residents of Estonia's 'Culture Capital' of Tartu

Muhu Island: An Oasis of Estonian Tradition

Get a virtual tour of Estonia’s Muhu Island with local Katrin Turr. Take a ferry ride across Suur Strait & be transported to thatched roofs, Neo-Gothic manors & Medieval churches. Experience of the legacy of Russian influence: the motivation of medals, Orthodoxy Christianity, young communist league & missile silos. Koguva’s ethnographic museum highlights daily life in the 19th century: farmhouse, costumes & writer Juhan Smuul.

Muhu Island: An Oasis of Estonian Tradition

Estonia's Saaremaa Island a Window into Deep History & Singing Revolution

Make a sightseeing circuit around Estonia’s biggest island of Saaremaa! Visit the ruins of a Maasi fortress; Karja Church, famous for its Middle Age decorative elements; five Angla windmills; spa town of Kuressaare. Connect with the area’s history though a moving account of a celebration of Estonia’s independence from the Soviet Union at St. Peter’s Church in Kaarma.

Estonia's Saaremaa Island a Window into Deep History & Singing Revolution

Estonia: Tartu Song Festival Museum

Tartu is Estonia's 'Culture Capital' and home to one of Northern Europe's oldest universities and the country's Song Festival Museum. Meet Uku and Kadi and let them guide you through the University of Tartu's 19th century Lock-Up, the Estonian National Awakening and insight into roots of Estonia's choral culture.

Estonia: Tartu Song Festival Museum

The Traditions of Estonia's Seto People: Handicrafts, Wedding Customs & Kingdom Days

Fascinated by the world's cultural traditions? The Seto people are an ethnic minority whose land spans the southeastern Estonia and Russian borders. The Seto have incredibly rich customs that include brightly-patterned costumes, elaborate wedding traditions, their very own 'Kingdom' and spectacular festivals. Yet being a border culture presents complex challenges. Expand your horizons and learn about the Seto!

The Traditions of Estonia's Seto People: Handicrafts, Wedding Customs & Kingdom Days

Seto Songs & the Cycle of Life in Estonia

Could your sense of play use a boost? Meet the elderly women of an Estonian Seto choir and get your groove back! Leelo singing is a tradition of the Seto people, an ethnic minority of southeastern Estonia. The members of the Leiko choir share their time-honored traditions of improvisational music, elaborate jewelry and costumes, and how to rock out on a giant swing!

Seto Songs & the Cycle of Life in Estonia

Seto Leelo Choir of Varska Estonia

Enjoy folk and ethnic music? Click video link to listen to the traditional sounds of the Seto people of southeastern Estonia! Their leelo singing is an ancient polyphonic style of music that is part of Estonian heritage and has been recognized by UNESCO as an item of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Sung largely by female choirs in a type of 'call and response' style, many of the songs involve constant improvisation.Enjoy BCD’s photo montage accompanied by music of the Seto Women’s Choir from the village of Varska.

Seto Leelo Choir of Varska Estonia

Faces of Estonia

Meet ‘Faces of Estonia’! Let BCD introduce you to Estonians who welcomed us across the country, from the capital of Tallinn, to the islands of Muhu, Saaremaa and Kihnu, to the port of Parnu, the culture capital of Tartu, the shores of Lake Peipsi, and Seto Kingdom in the southeastern corner. BCD's slide show is set to the incredibly moving song "Ta Lendab Mesipuu Poole," sung at Estonia's XXIVth Song Festival, held every five years and drawing hundreds of thousands. Estonia’s longstanding choral culture inspired their 1991 ‘Singing Revolution' and break from the Soviet Union. See the faces of the locals and understand just how much music and singing means to this group of people.

Faces of Estonia

Maria Michelson on Rich Cultural Traditions of Kihnu Estonia

Do you feel there is something special & different about island life? Then you'll connect with this powerful Q & A with Estonian anthropologist who shares the unique culture, heritage and ancient practices of remote Kihnu Island, as well as reflecting on our shared human need for balance. Kihnu's cultural traditions are inscribed on UNESCO’s list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity--read to find out why!

Maria Michelson on Rich Cultural Traditions of Kihnu Estonia

Estonia’s Onion Route & Old Believers

On the shores of Lake Peipsi in southeastern Estonia, the Old Believers live on the Onion Route; the history behind their chief crop on the Russian/Estonia border has roots in religious reforms. The Old Believer faith is in rich in traditions: clean & dirty sides of the house, sweet tea ceremony, patterns that tell life stories, symbolic grave markers & cherished Slavonic texts.

Estonia’s Onion Route & Old Believers