Walking down the Main Street of my home town in the Midwest, you can find an echoing plethora of historic buildings and sights that are nestled between shops and houses. The once bustling train station, the ol’ mill down by the crick, and the local watering hole represent the town classics. While these historical sights are old, they aren’t that old. They’ve been standing there for a century, maybe a little more, and they kind of lost their historical charm. This created a bland pallet of historical interest in my mind, it was in need of a kick start.
Since traveling to Estonia, there has been a rejuvenation of historic nostalgia flowing through my veins. Upon first glance, Narva was a little rough around the edges. The angry seagulls, coupled with the graffiti and endless rows of khrushchevki lining the streets didn’t quite meet the expectations I had of an Estonian city. Nonetheless, we were in a former Soviet city. Walking around town and seeing the ancient walls of Narva Castle began to tear away at the cold complexion that my mind had painted of the city. I was intrigued, and decided to pick away further at Narva’s history to see what else it was hiding.
After doing a meager amount of research one thing became clear almost immediately, Narva’s roots run deep into history. A millennium ago this area ruled by vikings who antagonized ships sailing on the Baltic. Then later as Europe entered the medieval age, the village of Narva itself grew from a small wooden fort the Danes built to keep over watch of the road. After a few wars, Narva became a part of the Swedish Kingdom. Under Swiss rule, the great bastions around the city were constructed and the town grew. The city became legendary for its innovative fortifications and prospered greatly as a gateway for trading. The town lasted in its same baroque look until World War II, when the slate was all but whipped clean. The end of one chapter, lead to the beginning of the next. Which brings us to the current look of Narva as we have it today, which in itself has its own unique history.
At the end of the day, the lesson learned was to never judge a book by its cover. As stated, Narva’s roots run deep, and its a great shame to overlook them.