Viljandi is an ancient hilly city in South Estonia topped by ruins of a once-powerful Livonian Order castle. Evidence of civilization around Viljandi dates back to 500 B.C. and the first written record of a “Viljandi stronghold” was in 1154 in the commentaries to al-Idrisi’s world atlas “Geography.” Hanseatic merchants settled in Viljandi in the 14th century.
For many people Viljandi conjures up images of the Viljandi Folk Music Festival and Viljandi Culture Academy. This small city is the “capital of folk music” for most Estonians. The Viljandi Folk festival runs for 4 days on the last weekend in July. More than 100 concerts take place in Viljandi castle’s ruins, churches, and other venues throughout Viljandi County. It is the largest annual music festival in Estonia.
Viljandi hosts many events and several international festivals throughout the year. The Early Music Festival, Hanseatic Days, Young Dance Festival, Mulgi Rally, Winter Folk Dance Festival, the “Theatre in Suitcase” puppet theatre festival etc. Since 1928, a run around Lake Viljandi has taken place on the first day of May every year.
Other names: Fellin (German)
First mentioned: 1283
Location: Southern Estonia
Area: 14,32 square km
Population (2013): 17 473
Ethnicity: 94% Estonians, 3% Russians, 2.1% other
Known as: the culture capital of Estonia
View Viljandi on Google Maps.