Welcome to Kuressaare
Kuressaare exists because of its castle, which was founded in the 13th century as the Haapsalu-based Bishop of Ösel-Wiek’s stronghold in the island part of his diocese. The town became Saaremaa’s main trading centre, developing quickly after passing into Swedish hands in 1645. From 1952 to 1988 Kuressaare was named Kingisseppa, after Viktor Kingissepp, an Estonian communist of the 1920s.
Apart from the castle, the best of Kuressaare’s historic buildings are grouped around the central square, Keskväljak. The tourist office is housed in the town hall (1670), a baroque building guarded by a fine pair of stone lions. Directly across the square the Vaekoja pub inhabits a former weigh-house, also from the 17th century.