From the parking lot, turn right and drive about 2 km, until a sign points to the centre of Kõrgessaare manor.

Photo: Meelis Lokk
Photo: Meelis Lokk / www.fotokogu.com

The Kõrgessaare industrial settlement is situated on the Ninametsa peninsula. It is also an old manor place that could be detected of the lonely older buildings, as the distillery (Viinaköök) made of field stones (latter half of the 19th century) or decaying granaries and cellars. The wooden governor’s house dates also back to the manorial era. During the past decades it has served as a kindergarten and elementary school. Most recently, it housed the community centre and library. In front of the Viinaköök and behind the cooling pond there is a monument made of two huge stones. It is dedicated to the crew of the lightship that guarded Neckmansgrund (an area of the sea) and was sunk on the first night of the War.

All of the most well-known landlord families in Hiiumaa have governed the now-crumbling Kõrgessaare manor, including the De la Gardies, Stenbocks, Ungern-Sternbergs and Stackelbergs. The estate is situated near a shallow stretch of sea, and very often the locals had to rescue marooned sailors, their efforts rewarded with silver chalices and other gifts. People remember the manorial garden being full of drying velvet cloth and other luxuries.

E. A. P. K. von Ungern-Sternberg sold most of his lands here to H. Kogan a year before he died (1909), and Kogan sold it to the Viscosa company, which was planning to build the first artificial silk factory in Estonia. The bulk of construction work lasted from 1911-1914. The first stage of the factory was completed in 1914; and the first samples were issued the same year. The raw material, cellulose water, was imported from Finland and Russia. The beginning of World War I ended the business. The new machinery, which had been in use for only a month, was evacuated. But the name stuck, even after Russian soldiers blew up the factory in 1917.

Its vast ruins waited for better days, but no one acted on the plans during Estonia’s interwar independence era. Industrial activities recommenced in Kõrgessaare only after World War II, when the buildings were adapted for fish and meat processing. Oddly, locals took to calling this work farm by the foreign name, Viskoosa. Officially still only a bus stop name, it has survived in the local vernacular. But the harbour's name is Kõrgessaare and all the locals and summer visitors associate the name with flounder, since catches of the fish are the largest in this area.

Kõrgessaare could nowadays be considered an architectural curiosity, where original excursions of the history of dwellings could be organised. The farmhands' quarters from the manorial era are extant, as are the large army dwellings characteristic of Russia, a district of dwelling houses from the late Soviet period, with some private houses in between. It is hard to find a neighbourhood on Hiiumaa that is as diverse.

The industrial nature of the area has necessitated major investments. The cleaning facilities opened here in 1990s were so important for the Estonian Republic that even the Swedish and Estonian prime ministers came here to lay down the corner stone.


You should see the Ungru boulder. Not a huge rock, it is still connected with stories of the false lighthouse.