Estonia's easternmost town is separated only by the thin Narva River from Ivangorod in Russia. Narva, which has the look and feel of a Russian city, has a magnificent castle and an intriguing history that spans many centuries. Although the most outstanding architecture was destroyed in WWII, Estonia's third-largest city is an intriguing place to wander - as you'll find no other place in Estonia (or in Russia for that matter) quite like it.
People have lived here since the Stone Age, and it was a fortified trading point in 1172. It was embroiled in border disputes between the German knights and Russia; Ivan III of Muscovy built a fort at Ivangorod in 1492. In the 16th and 17th centuries Narva changed hands often from Russian to Swede, until falling to Russia in 1704.
Narva was almost completely destroyed in 1944 during its recapture by the Red Army. Afterwards it became part of the northeastern Estonian industrial zone and one of Europe's most polluted towns. Today emissions have been greatly reduced, with investment in cleaner technology well underway.