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Narva: The Historic meeting place

Narva is a unique city, which has for centuries been a border crossing and melting pot for different nations and states. Nowadays you will meet different cultures, both old and the new. It is the historic border where East meets West which has forged Narva’s specific character creating its’ uniqueness. The border is not really a barrier more of a happy meeting place for different nations, states and cultures.

A diverse military history has marked Narva – it has been a fortress town, ruled over by Danes, Germans, Swedes, Russians and Estonians. Narva is the only place, where two warring cultures were so close to one another – the 14th-17th century Germanic Order castle with bastions and defensive walls and 15th century Russian fortress face each other, only an arrow flight away across the river. There is a combination of unique architectural styles from Northern Europe. In 1700 the Battle of Narva started the historic Great Northern War, which changed the destiny not only of Narva but the whole of Europe.

Narva has always been a centre of international trade, outside of its military past. In Viking times the trade route named in ancient chronicles as ‘The Way from Varangians to Greeks’ started here. Later Narva was an important staging post on the road from Tallinn to Novgorod. In 1345 the trading settlement was given town status. Narva’s golden age was in the 17th century under the Swedish rule, when the downtown area with its’ unique architecture was built. Unique Baroque styles of architecture gave Narva the festive appearance of an important town. Unfortunately after World War II only a fraction of its former glory survived.

Presently Narva is the third largest city in Estonia; it is an important cultural and tourist centre on the eastern border of Estonia and the European Union.

Miraculously, in spite of many reconstructions and wars over the centuries, Narva has preserved its’ medieval appearance, providing unique sights found nowhere else.

Additional information about history of Narva is available on the Narva Museum web-site










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tourism@narva.ee Narva City Department of Development and Economy