Literary highlights of Tartu, Estonia

The lovely Estonian town of Tartu certainly has a cultural bent: my tips for Tartu sightseeing include the Crooked Art Museum and the University of Tartu. Another cultural side you’ll notice if you stroll around Tartu is that they’re big on honouring writers. My personal Estonian experience certainly fits this – the first person I spoke with about Estonia, on the bus ride in from Russia, was a half-Estonian Australia whose mother was a famous enough writer to be on the high school syllabus there.

Tartu sightseeing

Photo: Alastair Rae via Creative Commons

In any case, you might be especially surprised (as I was) to come across a statue of Irish writer Oscar Wilde. You’ll find him sitting on a bench having a talk with Estonian writer Eduard Wilde – of course, Oscar Wilde never visited Estonia but the sculptor “imagined” them having this conversation, theoeretically possible as they were both alive in the late nineteenth century. There’s space to sit between them if you want to get involved in what must have been an interesting chat.

If, like me, you’re especially interested in literary figures, keep an eye out for some of the other monuments you can find in Tartu. There are at least four more Tartu attractions that I’ve seen – for Friedrich Rober Faehlmann and Friedrich Reinhold Kreutzwald who were both involved in writing Estonian folk tales and epic fables; for Estonian poet Kristjan Jakk Peterson who studied in Tartu; and for twentieth century writer Oskar Luts.

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