Kihnu Island – Rootsiküla, Estonia - Atlas Obscura
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Rootsiküla, Estonia

Kihnu Island

This little gem in the Gulf of Riga has a very rich heritage and distinct culture. 

Kihnu, the largest island in the Gulf of Riga, has many attractions that make this a hidden gem of the Baltic states. A quaint Eastern European village awaits you rich with Estonian culture.

Kihnu’s traditions and culture were declared “Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity” by UNESCO. Historically, the men of Kihnu usually went to sea while the women ran the island. Therefore, women became the protectors of the island and its heritage. This heritage includes handmade objects, games, dances, and music. Music is an extremely important part of Kihnu’s culture and usually accompanies handicrafts and celebrations.

Another distinct aspect of Kihnu culture is their clothing. Traditional Kihnu clothing is decorated with symbols and vivid colors that represent legends and poems from ancient times. Kihnu’s people speak an Estonian dialect that borrows many of its components from Swedish and is sometimes even considered its own distinct language. 

Know Before You Go

From Pärnu, one can take a 15-minute plane ride of a 3-hour ferry ride to Kihnu. From Manilaid, it is a 1-hour ferry trip to the island. One can even drive to Kihnu over the ice in the winter when the sea is frozen over.

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