SOERA FARM MUSEUM
When driving back from Suursadam harbour, turn right
at the first crossroads, in about 2.5 km. When you reach
the main road, turn right. After about 1.5 km you are in
Palade. Turn right from the bus stand, where there is also a
sign pointing to Soera Farm Museum.
Photo: Toomas Kokovkin / www.fotokogu.com
This little museum owned by the
commune of Pühalepa, introduces rural
life in the past, and was founded in 1979
as a so-called collective farm museum.
During its first years mainly volunteers
hold it alive. Many people remember
Johannes Kokla, the older man from the
neighbourhood, who managed the farm
houses, told interesting stories about
the past and played the concertina. His
work was continued by many others,
with support from the community. Now
the Pühalepa community has leased the museum as a tourist attraction.
Soera Farm's original name was Sooääre (Swamp Edge). The swamps
in Hiiumaa are so small that it is even hard to notice them. Houses and
backyards, on the contrary, are so big that it's just impossible to pass
them. Soera is very much like that. All the old farm's characteristic
features have been preserved in Soera: long barn-dwelling, large yard,
granaries, a summer kitchen, cellar and a cosy chimneyless sauna. It's
true that there is a new dining hall in place of the old barn's ruins, and
most of the old fields have lain fallow for years. The central part of
the dwelling or the kiln-house originates from the middle of the 19th
century. This barn-dwelling, quite typical of Hiiumaa, gives a perfect
overview of how country people's life has changed (the kiln-house is
still without a chimney and the family room already has a chimney
and wooden floor instead of earth floor). Besides the vintage houses,
it is also possible to learn about the old tools and commodities in the
museum. Or try to figure out, how people could sleep in those short
beds and how the women in Hiiumaa softened home-made cloth, got
their husbands back home from the tavern and raised their kids. Outside
the farmhouse borders is a roomy coach house from the more recent
past with bigger work and driving vehicles.
Tip: The delightful Sooääre forest trail is also part of the farm's
holdings and provides a wonderful opportunity to take time out, learn
about nature and amble through the meadows covered with scattered
trees that are so common in Estonia.
Legends and stories
Soera farm has welcomed many famous visitors to Hiiumaa, inspiring
countless legends and stories. During the Soviet occupation, the first
Vietnamese astronaut came to visit Soera and started looking for the
residents, not understanding that it was not a regular dwelling house,
but a museum. At the beginning of the new era of independence, the
Prime Minister of Sweden, Carl Bildt and the Estonian prime minister
Mart Laar tasted the village food of Soera and enjoyed a good sauna
here. All of Estonia's top statesmen – both presidents (Lennart Meri,
Arnold Rüütel), ambassadors and politicians, including foreign ones
– have visited the museum.
If you have enough time, you can drive down the village road and find
the Kukka stone. On your way to Kärdla you can also visit the crater
observation tower or Paluküla church.